We talked to Zouhair Khaliq about how he has been able to do multiple things at the same time and the quick progression of his career. Here is what he had to say:
You wear many hats, with the wide scope of work that you do. What’s the secret?
It comes from this early impulse of restlessness. When I was younger, I used to read a lot. Typically, there used to be not one, but three or four books that I was reading at one time because my mind would not be able to handle the monotony of doing just one thing. This was the only way my mind felt at rest. I learned to adapt early on. I am on various boards, which are very diverse. The secret to wearing different hats is to have the discipline to compartmentalise. I use a lot of technology – I have different parts dedicated to different businesses in my iPad. I make sure that I’m able to walk away from one aspect to another with a clear mind. It might seem a little confusing to say that the mind is restless and at the same time being disciplined to be able to compartmentalise, but it comes naturally to me – I’ve never had to practice this. You need to be able to shut down if you can’t do something about a particular thing instantly instead of festering. Come back and tackle it later!
Your career progression has been very quick throughout the years of your incredible career. What was your mindset during the process?
I was born into a family of engineers – my grandfather was an engineer. My father and five uncles are also engineers. Since the beginning, while I was pre-ordained to become an engineer, at the same time, mathematics and physics seemed like Greek to me. I realized that I had to adapt my mindset to something else. Ultimately, once I had adapted my mindset, it set me free. What it meant was that I was free to do what I wished to do. I went into accounting – I call myself a ‘reluctant accountant’. I always wanted to be more. I would say the mindset should be to always look ahead, see where the world is going and adapt yourself. That mindset actually reflects a lot of career moves that I made over the years – from being a reluctant accountant to going into management. Suddenly, there was this new, very appealing, growing industry called mobile cellular and I jumped into it, not knowing what it was really about, but it was very exciting to me. Frankly, I’ve never regretted a single day of making that decision. Mobile has evolved immensely – from being about a single phone call to data and so much more. So, in my opinion, the key about the mindset is how you anticipate the next move and align yourself in a way that you can benefit from it. Basically what you need from such a mindset is that you need to take a lot of risks. For me, being risk-averse in a way that you stay in the same kind of job for decades is like death. When you take that first leap of faith, you have no idea where you’re going and then you do it for the second and third and fourth time. Even last year, my move back to Pakistan was a leap of faith and so was creating the National Incubation Center. When you’re taking a leap of faith, it should be like a calculated risk where you weigh the pros and cons. My life has been about taking so many leaps of faith and it has never been a regret.