M AnisUdDowla, the Chairman of ACI Limited, is one of the most successful personalities in Bangladesh business circle. He has maintained a high profile, and has provided leadership to business community in different capacities. Mr. Dowla has considerable contribution in the field of Industrial Relations of the country.He is the Chairman of Pioneer Insurance Company Limited and Director of Credit Rating Agency of Bangladesh. He is the member of Trustee Board IIUB, President of Bangladesh Seed Association, Chairman of Apex Leathercraft Ltd and Chairman of Advanced Chemical Industries Limited. He is the brother of legendary singer Firoza Begum. Her daughter AnisUdDowla is the renowned Nazrul Sangeet singer. Recently The Pages Magazine had a conversation with this legendary persona of Bangladesh business industry.
As a child what kind of vision did you had about success?
In Bangladesh People have more attraction towards being doctor or engineer a rather than being businessman. Even, I wanted to be aengineer in my childhood and studied in science faculty and completed my graduation from science faculty too. But in our country, that time scope of choosing a career from science was limited, so I thought to do something different. So, I moved to Karachi and
Studied on Public Administration there and started looking for job. Thus I sit for the CSP exam and continued looking for job alongside that and got appointed as a sales manager in British Oxygen Group of UK in Pakistan, with good salary too. The CSP result was out by that time, and I did quite well but still was in a dilemma regarding my decision. Then I decided that I would rather have a nice life and something challenging that I can do by myself.
How did you start your career for which you have reached your position today?
ICI advertised that they need a group manager and I applied for that. They call me and I got selected. That time the company was not in a good position. However after 4 years of hard work, it started doing well in the market. After getting profitable, ICI decided that, they will diverse their project on the branches they have worldwide and Bangladesh was one of the country amongst that. So, they asked me whether I would like to take the risk to start it newly or not. So, I confessed about not having the capital to manage a company where around 350 employee works. They assured me that, money is not the main issue rather to moving ahead with the employees and continue the development of the company in the market is the main issue as they cared for their employees. So, I took the risk of managing the company alone in a new way and thus my entrepreneurship began. There would no longer be any central control of London office or nothing so my responsibility was huge. In a situation like that, my first concern was to let’s make a guardian. So we applied for the ISO certificate and ISO itself was very new then, so we became the very first company to get ISO certificate in Bangladesh. Thus the journey of ACI started. So, from the very beginning we maintained the quality of the product and the satisfaction of our employee and still now we are very dedicated towards both of this sector.
What are the difficulties that you felt / overcome in your life?
There is always completion in business world. Competition of price war is a major issue. We pay tax tax and are completely compliant on that issue. After paying the taxation if I am competing with someone, who is not paying his/ her tax properly, automatically having 15- 20 % profit than mine and there are many like that. So, they have the chance to reduce or price cut the maximum price which I will not be able to provide. So, if we make the same price in comparison to them, then we will not have any profit. And as we know, no business can run without profit. So, instead of going for price war we give priorities to the quality of our products. We exercise on the features and exceptionality and uniqueness of the products. We may not be the cheapest but we are the best of the value, value for money is our concept. So, when its about the difficulties, unfair competition is a factor and it is present in every market actually and is normal. We are an ethical company and we have gained respect of the consumers for our products and have maintained it from almost last 15 – 20 years. And throughout this long journey, now when customers sees the logo of our brand on any products, they don’t hesitate to buy that even if there is a bit different in the price tag and their reliance is the highest achievement of ours.
Would you like to mention any particular spirit/ Philosophy which has encouraged you to reach this position?
The process through which we have seen that with the development of the business employees increased too. With every new projects we needed to employ six/seven hundred which is a matter of pride and satisfaction itself. To create scope for a huge amount of people is also a great matter and thus we are contributing to the GDP growth of country’s economy. We know that the more efficiently we will be able to contribute more to the financial growth of our country. To compete with the foreign products are not tough for us because we know that we maintain the status. As a businessman I know about the local requirement better than other foreign companies. The main challenge is to maintain the quality. If I can source the same raw material and maintain the same quality control that any other foreign companies are providing then I know that my products are not less from any other products. When the category, the purity, the efficacy all are equal to their products then consumer will easily have that. Because there is nothing better than that. Moreover our products are ISO certified, so there shouldn’t be any question about the quality. I have seen people sharing their experiences while they are having quality products from us. Whether it is ACI agro products, ACI foods, Shwapno lifestyle products, to satisfy people has always been the main inspiration behind our hard work. Profit is needed generally because without that business or growth in business is impossible. Still the main inspiration comes from the customer satisfaction.
How you are expanding your networking relationship in business
Throughout my working career I have experienced that you must be dedicated and you cannot do everything alone. So, it’s better to get others to do that for you. To supplement that, you need to teach them, inspire themand delegate authority to them so that they can perform. It will create more unit to do that work and result will be surprising too. If I try to hold the control power too tightly then others will not become capable properly that how to learn new things, how to take decisions, how to handle situation, how to attain achievement and how to accomplish/ perform the work in unity. Delegating is a art in itself. Yes, there is risk that some will misuse that power. Still the major will appreciate that and provide their best performance. And it is obvious that it will bring create much accomplishment. Overall you are not better than the 20 executive running the show. Yes, one can say that I am the best in decision making for having much experience but still group work is always better than single performance. New knowledge, new process are entering in the business world and we should give space for them. Moreover delegation increases people’s enthusiasm and make them work sincerely which brings better result.
What are the prominent factors of building an effective workplace relationship? Please share your own secret?
In workplace relationship, you must have to be sincere and must pay the workers their due. We should keep it in mind that, the workers are producing it for us. When I took the responsibility from ICI, I remember that their rules and regulations were totally different from us. Their working hours were around 36 hours whereas legal time are 48 hours. So, I offered the workers for 48 hours and I also played them for that. I increase their percentage of payment according to their increasing of duties. So, thus the new employees also ge habituated with the usual working time and they are okay with it. One thing I always felt that depriving or deceiving workers actually cause own deprival. And there should be no partiality. When someone worth something we always try to provide them the appreciation. Money is not everything. The environment of work where you are getting encouragement and inspiration for your good work will ultimately help you to keep the good relationship with others.
What are the most influential leadership characteristics that you have applied in your life?
To me, a good leadership characteristics is to do what you say and to practice what you believe. In words you are ethical but in works you are unethical cant lead you last long. Another thing is, sincerity, your own personal interaction should not have duplicity to have trust. In hard leadership different people thrive for different reason and there is nothing fully defined that how to control those reasons. Actually one who is suffering should find in other that what was the reason of others success or what are the special qualities that caused him/ her being success and implementation of those characteristics can made a good leader as it differs man to man.