Tehmina Chaudhry: Leading from the front

Iqtidar Gilani Our Correspondent

05th Oct, 2021. 02:47 pm

Tehmina Chaudhry

Tehmina Saeed Chaudhury is a successful entrepreneur, who has introduced a number of leading international companies in Pakistan.

As the chief executive of the Data Group, she is successfully running a multi-billion-rupee enterprise without compromising on the responsibilities of a wife and a mother.

Since its inception in the 90s, the company has been providing security and surveillance equipment and crime scene products to the Federal Investigation Agency, Rangers and Police in the federal capital and all federating units.

The Data Group is the first company to design, fabricate and equip forensic and surveillance vehicles for security and law-enforcement agencies.

Her company is representing The Royal Mint, UK in Pakistan, the UAE and Oman. It provided consultancy to Kroll Security International UK, the world’s leading security and risk-assessment firm.

During 80s, her another company, AST Computers, had digitalised major air bases across Pakistan. She has conceived and implemented AGRI-2000, Pakistan’s first hydroponic vegetable greenhouse and innovative farming.

A degree holder in chemistry and a role model for the aspirant businesswomen, Tehmina Chaudhury is on the boards of Parks and Horticulture Authority and the Punjab Mineral Company. She is also the commercial representative of the Honorary Consulate Finland.

Having interest in trade politics, she has served as a member of the executive committee of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 2016/17. Presently, she is an Executive Committee member and convener of the LCCI Standing Committee on environment.

Tehmina Chaudhury is very much satisfied with the career progressions of her daughter and son. Her son Abrar Ahmed Chaudhury is an MBA from Oxford University. Presently, he is part of the Oxford faculty after doing masters in environment and climate change, and later PhD in green funding from this world-renowned institute.

Her daughter Tania Chaudhry is a corporate lawyer. She is running her own software company in Dubai.

Following are the excerpts of an informal discussion with her:

What was your first business venture?

After the Dhaka fall, the cement industry was facing a crisis due to unavailability of jute bags. I started importing paper bags for cement companies from Korea. It was really a successful venture, which I later handed over to my business partner.

What is your biggest achievement?

I am a satisfied entrepreneur, wife and mother. Besides looking after the business affairs, I have given due attention to my home, husband and kids. I have introduced a lot of world-renowned companies in Pakistan, and trained and groomed a lot of people, who are very successful entrepreneurs now.

What is your greatest fear in life?

Honestly speaking, I have no fear. I have trained, enabled and empowered children to fight their own wars. The same is the case with my employees.

How do you take part in public welfare?

We are focusing on technical education of the poor and deserving girls and women. Presently, we are training a batch of 10 girls in software development. We will also help them in getting jobs. Our target is to provide training to 200 to 250 girls every year. We also plan to provide in-house training to the NUML students. Employees are also our priority. We are always ready to give a helping hand to our employees.

What is your favourite sport? Have you ever been an athlete yourself?

Cricket, tennis and soccer are my favourite games. I love watching them on television. I took part in javelin and discus throw competitions at the school and college levels.

Your favourite athlete?

Imran Khan! Like the majority of the people of my and the next generations, he is my favourite due to his cricketing skills and leadership qualities. Martina Navratilova is also my favourite.

Your hobbies?

I am an avid book reader. Philosophy and comparative study of religions are my favourite topics.

Do you listen to music?

I am a music lover. I usually listen to ghazals, classical and semi-classical music. Iqbal Bano, Farida Khanum, Amanat Ali Khan, Habib Wali Muhammad, Abida Parveen and Pathaney Khan are my favourites.

How many hours do you work in a day?

I usually spent two to three hours in the office and field. I spend most of my time on public welfare and meeting friends and colleagues.

Which is your favourite holiday destination and why?

I have travelled a lot in the past, and visited almost all European countries. I am a nature, mountains and water lover. Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan are my favourite destinations.

iPhone or Android phones?

The iPhone as for me it is easy to handle.

Which clothing brands do you frequently wear?

I am not brand but quality conscious, and can wear any brand. Mostly, I get clothes stitched from tailors.

What inspires you to join business politics?

Social welfare and politics are in my blood. My grandmother, Baji Rasheeda Latif, a recipient of the Qasr-e-Hind medal for her services to girls’ education, was the first woman MLA in 1936. I entered business politics to make my experience and expertise productive for my community. My politics is aimed at playing the role of a bridge between the policymakers, executors and the business community.

What can make the business environment easy for the new entrants?

Minimum bureaucratic hurdles, one-window facility and proper guidance for the new entrants are important. Though a lot has been done to improve the business environment, still there is still room for further improvement. The government should consult stakeholders for bringing more ease in doing business.

What is the future outlook of the overall business environment in Pakistan?

I am optimistic about the future of business in Pakistan. The industry is growing with a gradual increase in exports. We have made considerable progress in large-scale manufacturing even during the Covid-19. Textile and IT sectors are major beneficiaries. Many textile exporters are not taking orders, despite running units to their maximum capacities. We have huge potential and there is a need to set the direction and give guidance.

What measures should be taken to attract foreign investment?

The government should activate high commissions abroad. Expatriates are potential investors, who should be encouraged and facilitated. The commercial attachés should perform better.

Tania Chaudhry, daughter of Tehmina Saeed Chaudhury, said: “My mother is my mentor and role model. She has imbibed in both me and my brother humility, generosity and love for humanity. Her vision of making every woman stand on her feet and being financially independent has been very inspiring for many. She is an ideal mother, sister, wife and above all, a good human being.”

An employee engineer Ghulam Rasool Shakir, general manager, Technical said: “My work experience with Tehmina Chaudhury has been very rewarding. Our company is like a family where the opinion of every person is counted. We have grown from a small design studio to the most preferred designer and fabricator due to the vision and work ethics of our chief executive and leader.”

Muhammad Hussain, driver, said: “I have never met a kinder person than Tehmina Chaudhury. She has always encouraged lower staff to educate their children. She has fully funded the education of my two sons, who are working after completing their education from the University of Engineering and Technology. Her children are kind and considerate and always treat me with great respect like a family member. I have been with them for 20 years and would like to be with them for the remaining years of my life.”

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