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KSBL – Will It Be All That It Promises To Be?

Move over, LUMS. And IBA, you are so retro. And CBM, you are hardly competition. The newest kid on the block has arrived with huge promises. KSBL – Karachi School for Business & Leadership.

The above words, in bold and italics, are not my words. Neither are they a quote. They are a careful paraphrasing of the impression you get from KSBL supporters who are raving about this new business school to watch out for. The more you read into it, the more you realize that KSBL DOES have potential to be all this.

KSBL stands for Karachi School of Business and Leadership. Established by corporate and business leaders in Pakistan, this school is being set up in the country’s commercial hub Karachi, where business schools do exist but not at the level needed. “LUMS and IBA are good schools but lack the cutting edge expertise that KSBL promises to have” said Humayun Javed Khan, Head of Marketing & Communications at KSBL, at a recent bloggers’ meet organized by the management.

Besides, the more the merrier. With the booming population, especially in Karachi, “there is a need and place for a hundred LUMS in Pakistan” said Rizwan Amin Sheikh, Associate Dean, MBA Program, KSBL. Sheikh is ex-LUMS faculty, as are others, including KSBL’s Acting Dean Dawood N. Ghaznavi. The drain and migration from LUMS to KSBL is an interesting trend.

The list of visionaries behind KSBL is impressive, including Hussain Dawood (Chairman, Dawood Hercules Corporation Limited), Asad Umar (ex CEO Engro) and Sarfaraz Rehman (ex-CEO of Engro Foods and the current CEO at Dawood Foundation) – impressive luminaries of the corporate and business world. These are leaders that make the claims of KSBL very credible to a non-partisan blogger like myself.

In addition, the catch lies here: KSBL has a Strategic Collaboration Agreement with the University of Cambridge Judge Business School. Not a cut and paste job. The curriculum would be tailored to suit the Pakistani environment.

The school promises to have the works and has all the catch-phrases one needs to hear like:

  • A need-blind policy for students ( an admission policy in which the admitting institution does not consider an applicant’s financial situation when deciding admission)
  •  A city campus and a main campus. They promise to have a “green campus” good for the environment.
  • Not just a mass production of ruthless business graduates, but ethical values being instilled in them as well. This is encouraging. As Sarfaraz Rehman said: “Young people today from business schools are smart, are worried about money, and love gadgets. But they are not strong in ethics” as he shared his experiences of mentoring exercises with students of LUMS and IBA.
  • The last two semesters will be based on “experiential learning”. This, again is promising, for many business graduates are seen living in corporate bubbles, brilliant but not street smart and equipped to handle the Pakistani business realm.
  • An “entrepreneurship program, unlike LUMS which is a general management program”, as said by the KSBL team.
  • A focus on research.
  • Most importantly, KSBL promises to help and train it’s students fill the gaps in the social and government sectors, by producing technocrats and individuals who want to give back to society and be contributing members, not just money-making machines.
However, while it seems too good to be true, we have to realize that when compared to LUMS (and I cannot help that comparison, considering that most of the conversation in the bloggers’ meet seemed focused on these comparisons), a few things are lacking in KSBL. The scope is limited, for starters, as it does not have an under-grad program.
Secondly, with promises to instill in students ethical values, research skills and simultaneously broaden their horizons to make them well-rounded individuals, I have a problem understanding how that can be done in the absence of programs of Sciences and in particular without any program of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Sheikh did say that “I pray that before I die, KSBL has programs  of engineering, humanities and social sciences, and is more than just a business school.” He said that KSBL will start as a business school but will develop as a school for other sectors like humanities in the course of time.
When compared to IBA, IBA will always retain it’s place as the trail blazer of Pakistani business schools. IBA and other business schools have already proven their mettle. KSBL is yet to do that.
No doubt, KSBL has a promising start. But will it supersede the giants? Only time will tell.

About FarahnazZahidi

Journalist, writer, blogger & activist. Currently working for The Express Tribune. Focus on human rights, health, gender, peace & Islam. Idealist. Wannabe photographer. Chaai, traveling, reading, friends and motherhood.

2 responses »

  1. Really nice job 🙂
    A great article.

  2. Sounds interesting. Times will tell the tale though. Good luck!


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