Taimur Rahman welcomed us to the Banglalink headquarters in Gulshan, Dhaka. We sat in a rooftop garden to talk about his more than two decades in the telecommunications sector.
First things first, he opened up about his unconventional schooling experience.
"My father worked in the foreign service. In 1982, I moved out to Geneva with my family," said Taimur, adding, "I attended a French medium school there along with my siblings."
Taimur soon picked up French while he was in Europe. Has French been helpful in Taimur's career? Let us dive into that story.
Taimur graduated in Electrical engineering from ABAC, Thailand. Soon after graduating, he started his career at the telecommunications equipment company Alcatel.
"When my interviewers at Alcatel found out that I speak French, I was hired instantaneously," Taimur said. His forte in French added a feather to his skillset.
Taimur worked at a number of telecommunications companies afterwards. Motorola was his employer for 11 years.
Prior to joining Banglalink, Taimur had a comfortable career at Grameenphone. When the then-CEO of Banglalink approached him, he switched over to his current company. "The opportunity to face bigger challenges prompted me to join Banglalink," Taimur said.
While talking about job satisfaction, Taimur asserted the importance of having a good relationship with one's coworkers. "People say you should not get personal in your professional life, but I happen to disagree," Taimur said. "Job satisfaction depends a lot on managers. If you treat coworkers like family, it helps."
Taimur also spoke about his role at Banglalink. As the chief regulatory and corporate affairs officer, he has to make sure Banglalink complies with all the regulations imposed by the government.
"While dealing with regulators, it is important to know what to say and when to say it," Taimur reflected.
As a manager, Taimur is more of a laissez faire (roughly translated as "let do") person. He is not a big fan of micromanagement, nor does he always intervene with his subordinates. "If my people get the job done, that is fair enough from my end," Taimur said.
Telcos are one of the most sought-after careers by young professionals. "What kind of talent does Banglalink recruit?" we asked.
"Banglalink always welcomes fresh blood to the workforce. One has to be a "go-getter," if he or she wants to work for Banglalink," Taimur said. "Young people have a better grasp on the ever- changing technology in the workplace, and we want to leverage that."
Taimur spoke about the best career advice he has ever received from his seniors. "I would say 'never give up' is my go-to advice for students. Besides, mistakes are inevitable, so always be ready to accept that."
"If you are not making mistakes, you are not learning," he reiterated.
In Bangladesh, we are hesitant to be outspoken with our elders. The cultural context does not allow us to be straightforward. "This has to change," Taimur stated. "Just be polite when you have a proposition to ask from a senior."
As the fourth industrial revolution is in motion, the fast-paced world of telecommunications is bound to take a dramatic turn this decade. Taimur compared the recent technological advancements to the futuristic gadgets of "Star Trek."
"If you watch the 'Star Trek' movies of the 80s, the gadgets you see in those films have very few similarities with the technology we currently have in our world. So it is not possible to predict the future entirely, all you can do is be ready to face new challenges," he said.
"IoT [Internet of Things] has enabled a lot of options for telcos to adopt new digital services. At Banglalink, we are looking forward to becoming a digital company, rather than just a telecom brand."
In Taimur's words, there is a possibility for a merger among the top telco companies in Bangladesh. Since there are a sizable number of subscribers and only three big players on the market, consolidation between companies might happen.
During our conversation, Taimur championed Banglalink's Strategic Assistantship Programme (SAP). The SAP is the gateway for entry-level professionals. After an arduous selection process, the best candidates are directly placed as interns at Banglalink.
Upon finishing the internship, the candidates are offered a full time job, as per vacancy requirements.
"We scout talent, not just the alumni of big universities," Taimur said candidly. "Graduates from different universities across Bangladesh are working at Banglalink."
"A degree is just one prerequisite of a resume. A student must have additional skills to stand out as an employee," Taimur said while offering advice to students.
As we wrapped up our interview, Taimur Rahman bade us farewell and returned to his desk. We could not cease to admire his hustle to improve Banglalink.