Zahir Ahmed, the CEO of Confidence Cement, started his career in the company as an entry level junior executive officer in 1994 after completing his graduation and post-graduation in Management from Chattogram University.
He has worked at different departments including marketing and administration of the company, which has an annual production capacity of 1.2 million tonnes.
The company's yearly turnover is Tk500 crore. Around 1,000 people are working in it. The company invested in the electricity, battery and paint sectors.
In 2018, Confidence Cement appointed him as Managing director (MD) or Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
As a CEO he maintains a simple life and has no private assistant or secretary in the office.
In an interview with The Business Standard, Zahir Ahmed talked about his long journey in the company and the challenges he faced.
TBS: When did you join Confidence Cement?
I joined the company in 1994 as Junior Executive after completing my graduation and post-graduation from Management in Chattogram University.
What did you want to be in early life?
During early age, I wanted to be a lawyer. After taking admission at the university, my dream was to be a politician. Seeing the nature of politics in Bangladesh, I lost my interest in politics.
Why did you join a cement manufacturing company?
I did not have any interest in government jobs. During our time government employees were very low paid. To maintain a standard life, I decided to join a private job. At that time, the Confidence Cement was on formation level. Its board was one of the best boards in terms of academic excellence. So, I joined the company. Around 90% employees working here now joined the company at the very beginning. The company believes in long term employment.
What was your priority after being the CEO?
After being appointed as MD, I gave priority to three things- creating teams, maintaining full compliance as I do believe compliance is essential for sustainability, and motivating the employees.
What are the challenges of a CEO?
It was very challenging to come in such a position. In Bangladesh, appointing a MD or CEO from the employees is also more challenging for the owners. It was a tough decision for the board to keep their trust in me whether I would be able to take such a challenge or not. At the end, they have put their trust in me. It is also challenging for me because if I fail, there will be a negative impact. Their trust will be broken. I am trying my best to play the role of the CEO perfectly.
How do you handle any adverse situation?
As I have been working at the company for a long time, I know the ins and outs of the company. My experience helps me to tackle the situation very well. I discuss the problem with my colleagues and take any decision after talking with them. We never stop our operation whatever the adverse situation is.
Do you face any problem in decision making as you are not the owner?
This is an employee friendly company. Board members and the employees take lunch at the same table. In the meeting, I have the right to oppose the decision of the board. I am 100% independent in decision making. I feel no inertia during taking decisions. It seems to me that I love the company very much. I have observed the company very closely more than the owners.
Is your academic subject Management helping you in your job?
Yes, Management starts from home. Management is an important tool in my life. If management fails, everything fails.
What are your good sides as a CEO?
I am a liberal person. I am open for all. I have no bureaucratic mentality. I do work in time. I don't keep any file for tomorrow or keep pending any work. Anyone can directly enter into my room without any prior permission as I have no private assistant.
So, my other colleagues can come to me without any formalities and fear. They share their excellent ideas with me without any hesitation. I also encourage them for their ideas. It helps me to make the right decision. During taking decisions I take risks as well to complete the work in time.
How does your company plan on Covid-19 recovery?
From April to June, the production of the company came down almost 60%. Now we are set to turn around to recover the time hit by Covid-19. Stimulus package of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina gave us courage. We become hopeful for the stimulus package of the government. We have benefited from the package. We have followed the health guidelines very strictly, as a result, no one from our factory has been infected with Covid-19.
How do you spend your time?
If you manage your time properly, you can give time to your family and office. I do my office from 9am to 5pm. Returning from office, I try to give time to my family. I try to read articles related to economics, politics and management. I travel a lot. I love to chat with my friends on contemporary issues and literature.
Thank you for your time.
Thank you too.