A Tenacious Trailblazer
Tahsin Aman reveals the recipe behind the success of Entrepreneur Organization and how the platform encourages to tailor solutions to tackle adversities.
What motivated you to join EO?
After I graduated as Industrial Engineer from USA and joined my family business in Dhaka, the first thing that I wanted to do was start new businesses while bringing sizeable changes to the existing ones. I completed my MBA from IBA and hoped my knowledge of business administration will help me reach my entrepreneurial goals. I was full of ambition and optimism. I tried, succeeded and even failed in a few business ventures. The whole experience of being an entrepreneur was a bit wild and rewarding, as every place that I looked showed me the need and opportunity that had businesses solution with its share of risks. It was fun and scary at the same time. I felt the need to be with like-minded people with an entrepreneurial mindset. I joined the business chambers, but realized that I needed more than an association around businesses and its policies. As I was talking to a friend of mine, he referred me to Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) in Toronto and asked me to meet a few members to understand what they do. And that was the ‘Aha’ moment for me. I was introduced to a global organization that was all about Entrepreneurs and once I got to see what they do, I was convinced that this is where I should join. EO is an organization that not just connects entrepreneurs globally but focuses on the learning and growth, and covers family and society as well, which is an integral part of entrepreneurial ecosystem. I joined immediately and felt that I have met my tribe. Even being members as entrepreneurs from different countries we acted, talked and thought alike. It was very refreshing. That is how my journey with EO started and I am happy that we are able to bring the immense value of EO to Bangladesh for our entrepreneurs.
As a president what was your first priority? How much did you manage to accomplish during your tenure?
Bangladesh is a fast developing country, with a strong growing home market and with export success as well, is causing a boom in private sector development. Hence, more and more entrepreneurial efforts are seen across all sectors. It is often seen that large to small companies conduct businesses with silo mentality and the concept of competition and secrecy hampers learning and makes the companies static and not ready for growth. Hence a lot of entrepreneurial efforts fail after struggling for many years.
My first priority in EO is to instil the value of learning for continuous growth and focus more on collaborative knowledge rather than the fear of competition.
So far we have had successful learning events with local and foreign experts. The most successful one was by Daniel Marcos who did a workshop on “Scaling 10x Business with less stress”.
At EO we also have an informal and very private discussion session called “BoardRoom Series” which takes place in the boardroom of the business leader. One of the most highly rated Board Room Session was held with the acclaimed business leader of Bangladesh, Mr. Sk. Bashir Uddin, MD of Akij Group.
My second priority is to focus on the importance of social responsibility for us business leaders and find collaborative ways. Business leaders are constantly looking to find solutions to problems and hence it is also our responsibility to find solutions and to act in the best interests of the environment and society as a whole. We have had a successful agreement with EO Switzerland to form a working committee on how the EO members from both countries can collaborate on social initiatives. Also the global award event ‘Social Impact Business Awards’ is going to be held in Dhaka, Bangladesh. This is a matter of great honor for us and EO member companies who have been nominated from around the world for their work in Social Impact Businesses will be presenting their projects in Dhaka.
Did you face any challenge being the president? How did you balance between your hectic business schedules and activities of EO?
We have a very dynamic group of leaders in our EO board and it has been a wonderful experience working with them. Each board member is exemplary in their own right and in their own sector of business. Hence leading the EO agenda has been a smooth ride. However, one of the main challenges is to manage the demand on our time. Leading a business can be tough and the role requires round-the-clock dedication, and most times we are busy troubleshooting. As entrepreneurs, we feel there is no clock-out time and you should always be working. Obviously, it is rewarding to see the business we have built to grow, evolve and flourish. But a systematic way of organizing work and life is very important and knowing what is purposeful work is important.
In EO so far we have had 6 training programs already among various groups of members in areas such as strategic planning, regular and accelerated forum training etc. and all these sessions focus on team building and how to work in a structured manner, whether it is making annual plans or even how to conduct meetings among our EO members with the latest techniques and technologies.
I, myself, have learned a lot from EO training on how to organize life and work. Work-life balance is a myth. It gives a false notion that work is bad and it is something that we need to survive and need to balance it with the goodness of life. We entrepreneurs love our work, and family is the most important thing in our lives. So we need to find harmony to enjoy what we do, whether at work, with family or in the community. Time management skills, purposeful work, delegation and building teams that work proactively gives us a lot of flexibility. Leading EO does take up a lot of time and volunteering my time, like many others in EO, have been very rewarding and have been instrumental in my personal growth.
How does EO differ from the rest of the entrepreneurs organization, say different business and bilateral chambers?
EO is the only global network exclusively for entrepreneurs. An entrepreneur is not just about work, it very much involves family, social obligations and community that we work in. Unlike the trading chambers, EO helps leading entrepreneurs learn and grow through peer-to-peer learning, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and connections to experts.
There are many attributes of EO that make it unique. This includes gaining access to important places and meeting global leaders, Networking with entrepreneurs spread all over the world, having business development breakthroughs by gaining insight from sector leaders and personal growth through learning and experience shares.
One of the unique features of EO is the forum experience. Upon joining, members are assigned into a forum, a long-term group of about 8-10 people who meet on a monthly basis to confidentially share the highlights and lowlights of their lives, learning and helping each other through shared experience. These are not mentors, but rather a set of friends with businesses in different industries, picked so that there can’t be a conflict of interest in the group. This is a unique learning experience that is initially guided and moderated by EO. This access to people with similar but different experiences is something that you simply cannot buy for any amount of money.
How are you trying to promote EO among local entrepreneurs?
EO is a great, curated, global organization of successful entrepreneurs. Since it offers a plethora of benefits, including local, regional, national and international events, and provides access to really good resources, we are focusing more on quality of service for the existing EO members and we are not promoting very aggressively about new member recruitments. We are only taking new members based on referrals from existing members and the current process takes about 1 month including vetting from the global and local board.
What is your expectation with the impact award ceremony?
Bangladesh is a land of entrepreneurs and social innovation and it was a justified choice of the global MyEO Engage team to choose Bangladesh as the destination for the award event. This event is bringing in many foreign EO members to Bangladesh and also putting Bangladesh on the map of the EO universe. The global team will be announcing four divisional winners: Division 1 – Europe/Latin America & Caribbean/MEPA, Division 2- the Asia Pacific/North Asia, Division 3 – South Asia, Division 4 – USA/Canada with one Hall of Fame winner and one Global Winner.
We are very happy to host the Summit and Awards event in Bangladesh in March. Our extensive program will include panel discussions on ‘Local Initiatives – Global Impact’ moderated by Brian Brault, past global chair of the board of EO and current chair of the EO-UN SDG working group, project presentations of the awardees, visits to exemplary local initiatives such Brac and Sajeda Foundation, tour of heritage sites of Dhaka for our foreign visitors, socials and networking events. It will be a big celebration for the social change-makers from around the world and a good recognition of their initiatives and will surely highlight the difference EO members are making locally and globally.