Ikhtiyar Baig: Building an empire brick by brick
Starting his career as a banker at the United Bank Limited (UBL), Dr Mirza Ikhtiyar Baig launched his first business with a capital of half a million dirhams in Dubai. Photo Magic is now a multi-billion-rupee enterprise, and one of the businesses of Baig Group, which Mirza Ikhityar Baig established along with his brother Mirza Ishtiaq Baig.
Dr Baig takes pride in recalling how the two brothers set up the automatic photo development business with their savings in 1982. Dr Baig was with the Middle East Bank in Dubai. Baig Spinning was the debut in textile sector, as the Baig brothers acquired two closed units, i.e., Bawany Textile and Waheed Spinning in Karachi and merged them into Baig Spinning in 1992.
Dr Baig is a great fan of art and architecture and his 6,000 square yards is ‘Classical Victorian’, and was designed by renowned designer Sabeen Sheeraz. Dr Baig’s son is a Harvard Graduate, while his two daughters got their MBAs from the University of Cleveland and the University of Montreal.
President of Pakistan has conferred on Dr Baig prestigious Civil Award “Tamgha-e-Imtiaz” in recognition of his contribution to the national economy. The president of Yemen has also awarded him with the prestigious Civil Award “Order of Merit” in recognition of his contribution to enhance trade and investment between Yemen and Pakistan.
Dr Baig is also the recipient of numerous other awards, including a gold medal from the president of Pakistan in recognition of his meritorious services in the field of banking and finance. His company Pak Denim is the recipient of the FPCCI Special Export Merit Award from the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan consecutively for the last 15 years on export of denim fabric.
Dr Baig is the former adviser to the prime minister on textiles and former senior vice president of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
What was your first business venture?
A: I am profound to be self-made, started my career as a banker and then established my business in Dubai, which is diversified into industries dealing into textile, denim, IT and software development, digital imaging, lab and diagnostic centre, construction and real estate sectors.
What is your biggest achievement?
A: God has blessed me with a good name and reputation in the society, strong credibility in the business circles and considered reliable business partners in Pakistan and abroad. My denim company is the proud recipient of the FPCCI Special Merit Award consistently for the last 16 years from presidents and prime ministers of Pakistan. My biggest achievement is the opportunity provided by the Allah Almighty to attend Gusl-e-Kaaba with the Saudi King and other dignitaries around the world, which cannot be any other bigger achievement.
What is your greatest fear in life?
A: I wish this legacy and good name continue with the generations to come, adhering to their moral values.
What is your favourite sport? Have you been a player/athlete yourself?
A: Table tennis, I was the captain of a club and DJ Science College table tennis team.
Something about music?
A: I love ghazals, instrumental and jazz. In student life, I used to love pop music but not anymore.
How many hours do you work in a day?
A: Around 12 to 14 hours daily
How do you relax after a busy day’s work?
A: Reading autobiographies of successful businessmen and renowned personalities of the world.
Which is your favourite holiday destination and why?
A: Morocco. A country with rich Islamic history, culture and heritage. Tariq Bin Ziyad was from Morocco.
Iphone or Android phones?
A: Android, S21 Ultra
Which clothing brands do you frequently wear?
A: Gorgo Armani, Lanvin
What prompted you to join business politics?
A: In trade politics, you are dealing with the economic issues with the policymakers sharing your practical experience to contribute better economic performance, increase in exports, new job creation, which our country in dire need of.
What can make the business environment easy and encouraging for the new entrants?
A: Minimum bureaucratic hurdles and less regulated policies to be provided to the new entrants to plan their roadmap for the growth. Corruption is one of the main hurdles to the new entrants.
What is the future outlook of the overall business environment in Pakistan?
A: We need consistent long-term business-friendly policies for the economic revival.
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