- Marhaba: nurturing health, embracing tradition and defying challenges
Interview with Hakeem Muhammad Usman — CEO, Marhaba Laboratories (Pvt) Limited
PAGE: Share a concise overview of your professional journey, corporate background, and key successes and challenges.
Hakeem Muhammad Usman: As far as my background is concerned, by profession I’m an expert of herbal medicines and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Pakistan’s most prominent herbs and food organisation Marhaba Laboratories (Private) Limited for more than 45 years. After my graduation, I have established this business along with my four younger brothers on July 1, 1975. The aim was to produce oriental medicines and natural dietary supplements in a modern and scientific manner so that the age-old prescriptions and remedies, reach the customer in a ready to use form and our products are being exported all over the world and I believe in the use of natural products like herbs, seeds, and honey to cure and prevent ailments. I believe that one can never contract an infection, let alone be overrun by one if one maintains his ties with nature and natural products.
The vision of Marhaba is to provide and maintain the winning combination of quality, efficacy, affordability, and continuous innovation in every aspect by implementing a total quality management system at all levels. Our aim is to make Marhaba a leading global brand of health and natural products by providing what is promised and staying firmly committed to principles of the honorable herbal tradition.
I am very optimistic about our company and strongly believe that it will be the best herbal/food products company in the country. We will be impacting the consumer in Pakistan and I believe we should be impacting 50 million people in Pakistan in the next five years. Our high demand products are Ispaghol Husk, Honey, Joshanda, Rose Water, Gulbahar Sharbat, Fruit Preserves, Herbal Medicines, Spices and Oils.
There have been many challenges and day in day out they vary. A major challenge is a difficulty in doing business especially when setting up an entity; you are prone to taxes from day one and maintain the products price so everybody can afford it.
PAGE: As a CEO, what do you consider the pivotal factor in decision-making?
Hakeem Muhammad Usman: RecogniSing opportunities and capitaliSing them on time is the most important aspect of decision making for a CEO. I believe in team work because team work makes the dream work.
PAGE: How has Marhaba’s HR strategy evolved during the challenging times of Covid-19, and what precautionary measures have been implemented?
Hakeem Muhammad Usman: During the pandemic my people strategy is very simple pandemic or no pandemic – effort and reward are one of the key driving factors of a successful team, long as the team is engaged and has faith in the senior management that their efforts will be recogniSed and rewarded. As far as layoffs are concerned it is my leadership style that I will not give up on my colleagues and to date, I am grateful to Almighty Allah for the support in this matter and till now on daily basis. Marhaba is providing free sanitizers, masks, hygienic food, neat and clean environment to their colleagues and workers to fight against coronavirus. Under the CSR of Marhaba, we are distributing food and medicines for the deserving families who are affected by the pandemic and these food packets we are distributing without any difference of color cast and religion.
PAGE: Emphasising women empowerment, what proactive steps would you recommend for fostering inclusivity in the workplace?
Hakeem Muhammad Usman: I believe females are an important part of society and I am a very big proponent of women empowerment. I firmly believe that females have certain distinct qualities and in places far more effective than men. Marhaba has an equal opportunity employment policy and our females have done a wonderful job for us.
PAGE: Could you highlight someone you consider a mentor in your life and the impact they’ve had on your journey?
Hakeem Muhammad Usman: Life gives you so many sweet and sour experiences that even sometimes you can’t decide whether to smile or get angry so this time when I faced such a situation my mother was the only one who prayers, rewards of my hard work and skills.
I was nothing but today where I stand, the entire struggle and success credit goes to my mother. I was in class 9th when my father died in a road accident, and we were very young. Our father’s death left us all alone in this world, but my mother was a great woman, she never let me lose hope. She saved us from ruining our lives and a very optimistic, patient, and enduring mother.
Due to critical circumstances, I had decided to drop out of school, but she said: ‘No! I am alive right now you will study because she felt that education was the only key to push us to the next level. My mentor, judge, lawyer, and everything was only my mother and I always thank Allah Almighty for this blessing.
PAGE: What words of encouragement do you have for the younger generation, entrepreneurs, and fellow business leaders?
Hakeem Muhammad Usman: I want to tell the youth that have faith in what you believe in and pursue your passion. There will always be challenges, life will through knockout blows, and we will make mistakes. It’s okay to fall and it’s okay to make a mistake but it’s not okay to give up – not on yourself, not in the good on people, and above all never lose hope and hope for the helping hand of Allah the Almighty.