Tauqir Ahmed

CEO, DuPont

By Wali Zahid 12.03.2011

Your one-sentence description of yourself?

Flexible. Open. Team player. A facilitator

Your first leadership opportunity? When? What was it?

When I was appointed a team leader for the whole platform at 3M in 2004.

Were you ready for it? (H, M, L, no)

Yes. High.

What was your readiness factor? (luck, will, skill, network)

Ambition with past track record of successes

How did you perform then? On a 1-5 scale?

5

Your all-time most significant leadership opportunity so far (if different from this)?

DuPont. Joined in 2006 as Business Development Leader for Food. In January 2008, became the CEO.

Your ideal, future leadership opportunity?

A regional role, leading multiple businesses or group of companies

Is it likely to happen in your remaining work years?

InshaAllah. A usual CEO tenure a DuPont is four years. And I am looking forward to year 2012!

Today in your current role: Where are you on Wali’s Will-Skill Matrix (high, medium, low)?

High will. Moderate skill. Because experience cannot come overnight. I am a young CEO and would want to develop a better level of skillset.

What drives you? (one-word driver)

Team ambition. (Wali’s surprise at the use of word ‘team’ as leaders are usually driven by their personal ambition. So, asked: why team? Tauqir’s reply: perhaps that has to do with my age; I am only 35!)

Candidly speaking, have you been happy about growth numbers in the past decade?

Yes. In spite of the fact that the country climate was not supportive.

In an uncertain and ambiguous world, how can you make sure that your plans are achievable?

By using a practical approach. Overcoming hurdles as we go along. Not pushing the team too much if the obstacles are really beyond their control.

How easy or difficult is it to manage the Gen Y/Millennials (people born after 1982)?

Easy. We have a variety of management trainees onboard. You can be empathetic with them. They can be taught and trained by being a friend and mentor.

Your legacy? How do you want to be remembered? In your industry? In your organisation?

A man of commitment. A great supporter of business partners and companies doing business with DuPont.

What would you want to see in your leader (i.e. your leader to do)?

Trust. Empowerment. Allow me independent decision making.

Your learning: where do you turn to for learning – both daily routine, and time-off for courses?

It’s mostly self-learning. HBR. My more experienced cousins and friends are a source of guidance for me. I also attend courses like 6 Sigma.

Are there sufficient opportunities for C-level learning here in Pakistan or in the region?

None. Some tools are available at global level and at DuPont, but nothing in-country.

Learning and development of your team – what opportunities are available here? Your rating of these programmes? (1-5 scale)

Our people go to places like PIM and LUMS or other training providers.

What would you want different about these programmes?

That these are innovative programmes, not just off-the-shelf and include tools which allow hands-on practice and application.

What are three core competencies or skill areas you would want your team to develop for this year? Next three years?

Decision making. Business acumen. Drive for results.

What is your biggest time eater at work?

I have an open-door office and am accessible. Although this helps, listening to people takes up most of my time!

Information overload: What is your coping mechanism?

I keep a balance in what I read and what I skip. Most of the time when I read, I skim. I also delegate aggressively.

Do you have a stop-to-do list?

My boredom threshold: things have to be of interest to me to be somewhere in my my schedule.

How can we give up control (and do more empowering)?

By not micromanaging. By believing in the team and their capability.

What kind of personal or social networks do you use to enhance your presence and the chances for success?

I am member of several networks like American Business Council, OICCI. Because we are in lots of CSR activities, this allows me to network with charities like LRBT, HOPE, etc.

Faith? Is faith an inspiration for you?

Yes. I pray. I read Quran (Wali can see a pocket-sized copy of Quran). This is my third reading of the English translation of Quran.

Ever thought that how could the Prophet (saw)’s personality be a guiding factor for you in doing business, making decisions, empowering others? If yes, in what ways?

During a phase of difficulties at 3M, I learnt how to manage temperament, be patient and practice equality among team members.

CEO derailment? Have you seen colleagues derailing/going down? What was the cause?

Personal insecurity.

Any other cause of CEO derailment in our part of the world?

Too much focus on themselves. Overconfidence.

Your messages to new generation of leaders: What leads to success?

Nothing is impossible. Believe in yourself.

Your messages to new generation of leaders: Can you create your own luck? How?

We have a philosophy at DuPont which says: Your career is in your own hands. I believe in that. If you work hard, you will work your ways out.