Md Tariqul Haque

CEO of Enroute Int. Ltd

An avid gardener on Fridays and an entrepreneur on weekdays, Md Tariqul Haque is a familiar name in the growing corporate world of Bangladesh. In spite of being the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Enroute International Limited with 3,543 people on his payroll, Haque is extremely modest about his achievements. “I never dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur. Dealing with people has always been my passion,” he says.

An ex-cadet, Haque claimed he was never among the top students but was more into sports and other extra-curricular activities. Haque then went off to Symbiosis University in Pune, India, where he was awarded Most Outstanding International Student in 1997 and 2000. He was the first student to be elected twice as the president of its International Student's Association.

Before embarking on the journey of entrepreneurship, Haque had an eight-year stint at British American Tobacco (BAT). “I enjoyed my time there thoroughly and consider it as my best learning period,” he says.

His first turning point, however, came in 2006, when the company's managing director, expressed his own aspirations during a meeting. “All I want is a house with a backyard where I can grow my own vegetables and play basketball with my children,” the BAT chief said, much to the astonishment of everyone.

“That response was the wake-up call for me. I knew I had to get my priorities right and decided to quit my job,” Haque reminisces. He resigned the following year and created the memorable campaign of Cox's Bazaar, which drew a lot of praise. Enroute was born in March 2008, and since then there has been no looking back.

Haque owns not only one of the leading management consulting firms of the country but also a rapidly growing Human Resources (HR) outsourcing company, which takes care of HR needs of Quebee, Tetrapak, Unilever and Grameenphone, to name a few. Enroute also distributes Pureit Water Purifier and Coca Cola. His company has also sent trained managers to Bahrain, Kenya and Nigeria.

To those who wish to start their own business, Haque advises, “Always do a little bit of research before entering into any business as gap analysis is essential. You must also be prepared to take some calculated risk.”

He finally adds, “Lastly, the business you are entering must align with your passion and talent to achieve personal fulfillment.”

by Afsana Tazreen

Rajeeb Samdani

Managing Director of Golden Harvest

Rajeeb Samdani is the managing director of Golden Harvest Group and the founder and trustee of Samdani Art Foundation. His various business ventures include Information Technology, commodities, logistics, food processing, agriculture, aviation, banking and real estate. He is also the secretary general of Bangladesh Human Rights Foundation, and founder and trustee of Alvina Samdani Trust and Taher Ahmed Choudhury Charitable Hospital in Sylhet. He is also the director of The City Bank Limited.

Samdani started his career at the age of 23, as a commodity broker with one of the world's largest British steel companies, Stemcor, and over the years, Golden Harvest has expanded into many sectors. The company now has over 2,500 employees. In 2011, Golden Harvest expanded its business into the logistics industry with its Japanese partner Nippon Express, the largest logistics company in Asia and the 7th largest logistics company in the world.

Golden Harvest Agro Industries Ltd. is the country's largest frozen ready-to-cook food processing company. The frozen food division of the group is also going for a massive expansion; the group is in the process of setting up an ice-cream plant and the first ever Cold Chain network all over the country.

Samdani is also well known for his passion about art. The Samdani Art Foundation is working towards the development of Art Infrastructure in Bangladesh. The foundation is also organising the first ever Art Summit this coming April, in collaboration with Shilpakala Academy & Bangladesh National Museum.

Compiled by Star Correspondent

Anika Azam

Co-founder and Managing Partner of Kri Events

Women across the world spend months, if not years, planning their perfect wedding. Ever since she can remember, Anika Azam, an Economics graduate of North South University, has dreamt of planning not just her own wedding, but those of young couples across Bangladesh.

“I knew what I wanted to do but I did not really know how to go about it,” says the 27-year-old co-founder and managing partner of events management firm, Kri Events. “There were a few big names in decorating and planning weddings, but a career in wedding planning still wasn't considered serious or possible.”

After graduating from university, Anika worked for Chevron for one year but hated it. “When I quit my job, everyone was shocked and I had friends telling me it was stupid of me,” recalls Anika. “But I'd rather earn less and do something I really love.”

“My parents were very supportive and my father just advised me to get a male partner on board as in Bangladesh it could be difficult for me as a young girl,” explains Anika, who is passionate about her job.

Three friends joined Anika as partners in 2008 and together they planned, decorated and executed a friend's sister's wedding. “The concept of taking care of everything was relatively new,” says Anika. “We like to think of ourselves as the one-stop solution for everything, we never say we won't try, and we're not exclusive to the rich. Whatever the budget our clients may have, we try to make the most out of their money and sometimes even save them money.”

Having had a personal hand in more than 350 weddings in the last three years, including one with 5,000 guests, Anika has made her childhood ambition not only a career but a successful business. She employs a team of 4 full-time and up to 20 part-time staff that organise not just weddings but concerts, private parties and corporate events. Anika even counts her former employers, Chevron, as a client. “They were surprised by my career change but it's very humbling and gratifying that they trust me with their business.”

Despite the expanding business, Anika says she would like to continue working on weddings. “I like the fact I'm dealing with families. They have creative and personal ideas I can help with,” explains Anika, who is not yet married herself.

When asked about her own nuptials, she says, “Friends joke about it. I'm going to plan my wedding but I don't know who will execute it, so that will be interesting!”

by Soraya Auer