It was an evening of new beginnings for the Jazz and LUMS communities on Tuesday, April 30, 2019, when the collaborative national initiative, ‘DisruptEd: Ideas that matter’ was launched at the LUMS campus.
As an initiative that aims to prioritise innovation and digitisation in the landscape of Pakistan, ‘DisruptEd: Ideas that matter’ is a speaker series that will serve as a platform for stimulating discourse and disruptive ideas that connect the different facets of the contemporary ecosystem and create pathways for unlearning and reimagining.
The inaugural event of the series was a talk on ‘Leadership in the Age of Rapid Digitalisation' by Aamir Ibrahim, CEO Jazz. The evening kicked off with an address by the LUMS Vice Chancellor, Dr. Arshad Ahmad, who offered a nuanced perspective on what the objectives of this national partnership are and also what the platform will serve as in the months to come. Dr. Ahmad very warmly welcomed Mr. Ibrahim to LUMS and thanked him for his support in getting this aspiring endeavour off the ground.
As Mr. Ibrahim took the floor, he first introduced himself as the CEO of Jazz, Pakistan’s largest telecom and Internet company, with over 55 million subscribers and one of the country’s largest businesses. In explaining what his vision in leading a digital giant like Jazz is, Mr. Ibrahim said, “The main thing for Jazz is not to be the biggest but to be the best in terms of how we analyse the landscape and how we move forward.”
Addressing Pakistan’s current climate, he shared that in terms of digital readiness, we are far behind, and analogised Pakistan’s digital landscape with cricket. “We are doing better than before, but we are nowhere close to our required run rate,” he said. Elaborating on this, Mr. Ibrahim explained that if we were scoring two runs an over before, we are now perhaps scoring three runs an over. This may seem like a huge feat in that it is a 50 per cent improvement, but for Pakistan to be considered seriously relevant anywhere in the world, we need to be scoring 10 runs an over. “So the gap that I see is far more than the progress that we’ve made,” he said.
Mr. Ibrahim addressed many of the challenges that arise in the digital ecosystem in Pakistan, and cited that currently, only one in every five Pakistani is somewhat digitally literate, reinforcing the idea that we are far behind, but also displaying all that we can do. “What I see is opportunity,” he said.
Shedding light on the purpose of the DisruptEd platform, Mr. Ibrahim expressed that both Jazz and LUMS wanted to create a forum where likeminded people can challenge one another in terms of what needs to be done collectively to take the country forward.
The audience too enjoyed the interactive talk as they got the chance to ask Mr. Ibrahim questions and partake in active discourse about Pakistan’s digital future.
In an effort to highlight all that is still to come, and conclude the evening on a note of hope, Mr. Ibrahim emphasised that Pakistan has a positive future and that we need to work together to achieve it.
“You have very strong voices in every single sphere that you operate in,” he said. “Please use your voice towards asking all the stakeholders, companies, educational institutes, and the government that you deserve a better technological infrastructure because without that infrastructure this country isn’t moving forward.”