Dr Qurat-ul-Ain: A satisfied professional
Dr Qurat-ul-Ain Irfan is a successful entrepreneur and a role model not only for her two daughters and one son, but also for the aspiring businesswomen. A Graduate of the Fatima Jinnah Medical College (now university), she is the vice president of the Pacific Pharmaceuticals, a multi-billion rupee enterprise with a reasonable local market share, besides exporting medicines to more than 20 countries in Europe, North America, Asia and Africa.
She is proud of successfully maintaining a balance, while taking care of a big business empire and raising children. She is pretty satisfied with career progressions of her two daughters and one son, who are now assisting parents in handling their business.
Her daughter Afifa Irfan is a pharmacist and an MBA degree holder from the King’s College London. Aniqa Irfan has got a degree in pharmacy from the University of Reading, England. Her son Ramish Omer has obtained a degree in computer sciences from Coventry University London.
Having interest in trade politics, she competed with male counterparts to enter the executive committee of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 2017. At that time there were no reserve seats for women entrepreneurs.
The following are the excerpts of a rendezvous with her:
How did you venture into business?
A: With the expansion in the family business, I started assisting my husband Irfan Omer. Now I am a key player in overseeing procurement of raw materials, manufacturing and marketing of our products, both within the country and abroad.
What is your biggest achievement?
A: I am a satisfied entrepreneur, wife and a mother. Besides looking after business affairs, I have given due attention to my home, husband and kids. I believe in giving quality time to the family. Saturdays and Sundays are only for the family. I spend holidays, while cooking meals and taking care of my family.
What is your greatest fear in life?
A: I wish this legacy and good name continue. Despite having strong belief in our training, we (me and my husband) have devised a mechanism to minimise the chances of conflict among the siblings. My two daughters are looking after manufacturing, while the son is taking care of the marketing side.
How do you take part in public welfare?
A: Our employees are the top priority. We are always ready to give a helping hand to our employees. We are also donors of the Shaukat Khanum Hospital.
What is your favourite sport? Have you ever been an athlete yourself?
A: Cricket. I love watching games in the stadium and on television. I have played badminton and handball at school level.
Your Favourite sportsman?
A: Imran Khan! Like the majority of the people of my and my kids’ generations, he is my favourite due to his cricketing skills and leadership qualities.
A: I am an avid book reader. Autobiographies of world celebrities are my favourite choices. I have recently read autobiographies of Mishal Obama and Queen Noor.
Do you listen to music?
A: I am a music lover. I usually listen to classical and semi-classical music. Noor Jahan, Iqbal Bano and Ahmed Rushdi are my favourites.
How many hours do you work in a day?
A: I usually spent six to eight hours on desk and field. I am fitness conscious and spend around one-and-a-half hour in the gym, and the rest of the time is for the family.
Which is your favourite holiday destination and why?
A: I have travelled a lot in the past, and visited almost all European countries. Due to the love for the Alps and nature, my favourite holiday destination is Munich, Germany. Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are also rich in scenic beauty, but going there is a difficult decision due to patchy road infrastructure and the lack of tourism facilities. The government should provide necessary facilities and improve infrastructure to encourage nature and mountain lovers to spend holidays there.
iPhone or Android phones?
A: Android! I prefer Samsung, as for me it is easy to handle. But I change phones only when the existing one starts causing problems.
Which clothing brands do you frequently wear?
A: I am not brand but quality conscious, and can wear any brand and even get clothes stitched from tailors.
What inspired you to join business politics?
A: I desired to make my experience and expertise productive for my community. My politics is aimed at playing the role of a bridge between policymakers, executors and the business community.
What can make the business environment easy and encouraging for the new entrants and existing players?
A: Minimum bureaucratic hurdles and one-window facility for the new entrants, who need to run from one department to the other for getting a go-ahead to start business. Though a lot has been done to improve the business environment, there is still room for further improvements. The government should minimise the role of departments and take measures for controlling corruption.
What is the future outlook of the overall business environment in Pakistan?
A: I am optimistic about the future of the business environment. The industry is growing with gradual increase in exports. We have made progress by leaps and bounds in large-scale manufacturing even during the pandemic. Hopefully, the trend will continue in the coming years.
What should the government do to ensure provision of quality medicines to public?
A: The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) had already taken a number of measures such as strict regulations, inspection and renewal procedures. There is a need to implement good manufacturing practices and proper monitoring of plants and warehouses for ensuring provision of quality medicines to the public.
What should the government do to increase exports of medicines?
A: Most of the companies are getting access to only Asia and Africa. We are the first who have access to the European market due to certification from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), United Kingdom. The Export Promotion Bureau should help the pharmaceutical companies in getting MHRA and FDA approval for their products to get access to the EU and US markets.
Who is your inspiration?
A: Husband Irfan Omer is my inspirational role model. He encouraged, facilitated and enabled me to become a successful entrepreneur.
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