Strong-willed and ambitious, Naheed Memon is currently the chairperson for Sindh Board of Investment where her primary responsibility is to facilitate and attract investment into the province. She is also a director at Kings Group and whenever she can find the time, she teaches economics, political economy and strategy at the Institute of Business Administration . As multifaceted as she is, she claims to find happiness easily. She finds it challenging to be in the public sector but teaching is also something that is very close to her heart. “In the public space I exist in right now, I find it very challenging and a part of me is really drawn to making things happen there. But when I step into my class I love that. Whether it’s Saturday or a Sunday, and I’m tired, when I get there, I feel it’s just so worth it. With all this on her plate, Naheed is also a wife and mother and excels as much in her personal life as in her professional life.
For Naheed, it has always been a few things going on in parallel. The challenge is to keep at it and not withdraw when some days become beyond hectic. Every working person faces work challenges, “it’s a game of patience and not of thrones,” she reaffirms, and has developed her own strategies to manage so many things together. Her family textile business has diversified and is well established now, hence, does not entail her direct involvement anymore. Focusing on the government responsibility is extracting but she decided to not give up other parts of her life for it, for example teaching. “I don’t do as much justice as I’d like to, but because my heart is in it, I find it hard to let go.” If you’re fair-minded, it’s possible to do a number of different things and strike a balance between them. Some days you focus more on one thing, the next day, some other. In Naheed’s rule book, as long as you’re doing justice to both, it’s completely okay. She believes anything can be conquered and it is only in times of physical weakness when she finds it hard to cope. “Even a simple flu can pull me down and make it difficult for me!” she says.
“More often than not, things don’t work out but you keep at it because eventually they do. That is what my experience has been like.” Every person living in Karachi knows how life can change in a minute here but overall conditions have improved. “We have less security concerns now and have managed to control occurrences of that nature,” she claims. She hopes that Karachi-ites are now seeing the end of that violent period. So, from an investor’s point of view the issue stems from inconsistency of policies rather than from security concerns as of now. “The domestic tussle going on between federation and provinces is a problem. There are reports filled with findings and stats, but they are often very generalized. You have to take them with a pinch of salt because surveys at best are limited and even biased.” In terms of policy making and institutional quality, Naheed believes we still have some way to go but is hopeful that in a few years, a lot of these issues will be resolved.
Naheed has inherited her strength from her mother and has tried to pass every bit of it to her children as well. She has brought them up as very independent individuals and prepared them for the real world from the very first day. “Even when they were young, their homework was their problem and I would not spoon-feed them,” she says. Today, she maintains a good relationship with them. She enjoys seeing them when they visit but has deliberately kept no expectations from them. Naheed is happy to live her own life and her children know she’s just a phone call away. Obviously it wasn’t always like this and things were especially tough when they were young. “The first few years are crucial and if you can give up yourself then, your children are forever yours.” She spent her initial time nurturing them, reading to them, making sure there was no dilution in her devotion in any way. Now, when she sees her children doing so well, she hates taking credit since she believes it has nothing to do with her. But at times Naheed gives in to that weakness. “I feel really happy that they’ve done really well and I’m proud of what they’ve achieved. Though I keep reminding myself it’s them, not me!” She never made her professional work their problem and believes children should not bear the burden of their parents’ sacrifices. “I’m not compelled to sacrifice, we do justice to the role we are given. A lot of multi-tasking and juggling was required to make sure I did the best of my abilities to look after them. I always worked but part time. They were a priority but my own development continued.”
Naheed does not have one major Miracle Moment and she does not believe in being consumed by pride for it weakens her. Instead she has had a series of small joyous moments. Doing well in university or learning something new from a book gives her happiness. Recently she started a new project where her team started e- trading on the commodity exchange. It’s the first time something like this is happening in Pakistan so that, too, is one of her many small miracles. Naheed Memon is someone who believes in her individuality and during her journey, in trying to be fair to the requirements of her family and children, she did not for once forget her own goals. And this is precisely why she is a Pond’s Miracle Woman for 2016.