Rising Leaders Networking
Event with Zia Chishti
By Taimour Chaudhri
Mohammad Sadiq addresses the gathering
Chishti addresses Rising Leaders
question from the audience
Washington, DC: On Saturday
July 23, 2005 Rising Leaders hosted a networking event with
a presentation from Zia Chishti at the Embassy of Pakistan.
The event was attended by a group of young Americans interning
in DC this summer. Mr. Chishti, a successful businessman,
gave a speech about his experience as a Pakistani American
in the business world; he also discussed the important tips
and tricks of networking.
Rising Leaders, a group aimed at empowering young Pakistani
Americans to be active in fields that are non-traditional
for the Pakistan community, hosted the event. The event was
focused on bringing young interns in DC together to network.
A mixer/reception gave interns the opportunity to mingle and
network with each other. Rising Leaders Fauzia Tariq, Talha
Fasih Khan, Taimour Chaudhri and Saad Bhatti greeted visitors
while Raina Khan, Unaza Khan, Shaheen Chaudhry and Sarah Syed
worked on the membership table.
The guest speaker, Zia Chishti, is an accomplished Pakistani-American
businessman. Although Zia Chishti was born in Bar Harbour,
Maine, he spent most of his young life in Pakistan and returned
to US for higher educaion. He graduated from Columbia University
in 1992 and then received his MBA from Stanford. In 1997,
he co-founded Align Technology, a company that produced clear
plastic removable orthodontic “aligners.” Soon
after he left Align Technology and became the CEO and chairman
of The Resource Group (TRG).
When Mr. Chishti was director of Align Technology around 700
Pakistanis were employed and stationed in Lahore, Pakistan.
They were responsible for the 3D computer graphics responsible
for the design of the orthodontic aligners, as well as providing
valuable customer service to US clientele. Align technologies
was Pakistan’s largest Business Processing Outsourcing
After leaving Align Technology, Mr. Chishti created The Resource
Group (TRG), which is now Pakistan’s largest BPO, employing
around 1700 Pakistanis. Globally TRP employs over 5,000 people.
Mr. Chishti believes that there are many skilled people in
Pakistan, who, because of labor market abuse, have not been
given the chance to work to their potential. His companies
have helped to motivate many Pakistanis to increase activity
in Pakistan’s labor markets.
Sarah Syed, emceed the event by welcoming the audience, thanking
Rising Leaders Directors and introducing DCM Sadiq. DCM Sadiq,
in turn introduced Mr. Chishti and welcomed everyone to the
Mr. Chishti began his presentation by explaining certain attitudes
one should have when one wants a job. Since the majority of
the attendants were Pakistani Americans, Mr. Chishti focused
on using a Pakistani background to one’s advantage.
He stated that if an employer has certain misconceptions about
Pakistan, one should explain the facts about Pakistan, and
use positive points about Pakistan to change his perception.
For instance, there are less murders in Pakistani every year
than there are just in the city of Baltimore. There are many
statistics that can help remove the stigma surrounding Pakistan
as a dangerous and inhospitable country.
Mr. Chishti also stated that sincerity and candidness go a
long way in an interview. A key point Mr. Chishti stressed
is that in order for one to be successful, one must have “something
to bring to the table.” Importantly, it is a give and
take relationship between the prospective employee and the
After Mr. Chishti finished his presentation, he answered several
questions from the audience. There were interesting questions
asked by the audience, starting with a staffer on Capitol
Hill who was curious about how to work with Pakistani Americans
that did not want to acknowledge their heritage. Mr. Chishti
recognized that there are many stigmas that Pakistanis living
in America face. He recalled one of his personal experiences:
“When I worked at Morgan Stanley it took them a year
before they would believe that I was good at anything besides
math”. On a more serious note, he did say that this
was one of the least difficult stereotypes to encounter when
living in the US. Many people, because of the various pressures
they encounter, take the easy path and disengage from their
Another questioner asked Mr. Chishti about the reasons behind
his investment in Pakistan and if nationalism was the main
driving force. Mr. Chishti, remarked, “Of course there
are personal reasons for me to base my industry in Pakistan,
which includes nationalism, being close to my family and helping
the people I grew up with — but most significantly it
is the economic potential of Pakistan that has always attracted
Someone asked Mr. Chishti about the difference between investment
banking and management consulting along with his advice on
how to obtain a job in these fields. There was a question
on work ethics and Pakistanis, to which Mr. Chishti responded
with a much heard comment in Urdu, translated to, “They
don’t work at all!” Despite this general attitude,
Mr. Chishti believes that because people in Pakistan do not
get paid what they are worth they do not want to work. Instead,
at TRG, Mr. Chishti pays his employees three times as much
as in other companies and his employees work hard, long hours
because they are driven by their salary, which allows them
and their family a reasonably good lifestyle.
It was the genuine charismatic nature and candidness of Mr.
Chishti that made his presentation a huge success with both
the Pakistani Americans in the audience as well as the non-Pakistanis.
He emphasized that building relationships with people in life
requires to adhere to a few simple tenets: honesty, sincerity,
and the ability to bring something to the table.
Overall, the event was a huge success, and the audience got
a rare glimpse into the life of an enigmatic and inspiring
role model for Pakistanis living all around the world.