“The secret sauce in any company is the people, not the product. That’s how you’re going to win,” said Zahir Ladhani, business growth expert and coach. Zahir headlined an interactive Ismaili Professionals Network (IPN) event on Saturday, September 23, 2017, titled, “Fast-Track Your Career Path: Tips from an Executive Coach on Preparing for C-suite and Leadership Roles,” for nearly 80 attendees in Dallas.
Zahir is currently Managing Director of Velocity Strategic Consulting, helping medium sized companies scale. Previously, he was Vice President at IBM Kenexa Smarter Workforce and led their worldwide Sales team, Partnerships and Science & Consulting Group. He left AstraZeneca, where he was involved with many major pharmaceutical launches, to join Kenexa in 2010, and was made President in 2011. He is also the Vice-President of the Ismaili Council for the USA.
Describing today’s world as one that is filled with volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, or “a VUCA world” as he called it, Zahir explained that the corporate ladder no longer exists. Gaining professional success, he argued, is akin to scaling a mountain; the difference between gaining experience and gaining skills. The key to scaling the mountain is learning.
“You’ve got to be a learner, a constant learner...reading, learning, understanding,” Zahir said. “It doesn’t have to be about anything specific. Pick up a book and read... Learn. Learn. Learn,” Along with learning, he stressed the importance of being a leader who is filled with humility. He asked the audience to think about how you lead your people and how important it is to love your team, enjoy your work, enjoy your life.
Following the talk, attendees networked with one another and reflected on the event. Attendee Imran Karim, a 34 year-old founder of Trophy Skin, from Plano Jamatkhana, said Zahir’s guidance on selecting the right support team changed his outlook. “I really liked his advice for an Advisory Board, having a sounding board, people who will change over time as you are in different stages of your career, people you trust.”
Nuruddin Sonawalla, event project manager and an IT professional from Plano Jamatkhana said Zahir was selected as the featured speaker because of his years spent in the private sector and as a sevadaari. “He has dual experience,” Nuruddin said, and “he has Jamati experience, and has equally great experience in the professional world. He would be able to communicate, and if you are a part of this, you can benefit.”
Zahir closed his presentation by sharing the most important trait embodied by all successful leaders he’s worked with. "Humility," he said, "leads to a happier life." Echoing the words of Hazar Imam, he added, “Enjoy and serve.”