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Dr. Abdul Salam Babar, our old colleague and friend passed away on Friday 10 September. Inna Lillahe wa Inna Ilaihe Rajeoon. He was diagnosed with cancer couple of years ago, which finally became the cause.
I heard about someone called Dr. Abdul Salam Babar in 1995-96 when our sales teams reported that this guy was effectively taking share of our original research product ofloxacin with his generic product. Several people talked about his skirmishes and successes. We heard with concern and talked about keeping a close eye on him. Then the information stopped.
Fast forward ten years, I was working with a Lahore based Pharma, when I finally met him. He was Head of Sales Training then. After about two years, he was reassigned to HR & Admin, a position where he worked for several years, and rose to the position of Director HR & Admin.
I wanted to write this piece not to trace his employment history, but about the person who was so affectionately known to so many people inside and outside the company. We worked on several important projects together. We differed respectably and collaborated wholeheartedly. When I look at the long years spent together, three things stand out.
Dedication – Dr. Babar was a fiercely dedicated person. He owned what he did and gave his best to it. You will find few people with such strength of dedication. Rarely though, but sometimes, he had his share of frustration over some action of senior management, but it never affected his dedication. He worked with the same spirit all the same, always watched over corporate interest, and made sure no harm came to it.
Dedication calls for hard work and he did plenty of it. He spent long hours at office and was willing to put even more. We disagreed about late sitting and that disagreement lasted, but I respected his spirit of hard work.
The most prominent feature of his dedication was that he never questioned when asked to do something. If there was a discussion, he would forward his point of view, but once decided, he would do it in the best possible manner, even when he personally disagreed.
Accessibility – Dr. Babar made sure he was accessible to all staff, and that they should feel free to approach him and talk to him without fear of reprisal. This was in the true spirit of being a ‘Human Resource Head’. For some years, he did not have a senior subordinate and had to handle all matters himself. Even during that time, he made time to remain accessible, which came from his personal time, but he was gracious.
Accessibility also calls for patience and courage to listen whatever may be said. An HR Head is the ultimate place for employees to register grievances, and he aced on this count. God knows how many grievances he listened to, kept in his breast, and resolved. The lower staff particularly gave a lot of respect to him on this count.
He did have his strong opinions which he shared during executive committee meetings. That forum was meant for handling matters at the highest level and candidness and forthrightness were highly desired.
Humaneness – Human Resource Managers are supposed to be humane in approach, if not in nature. Dr. Babar lived that quality every day. He went out of the way, he pleaded with the management, if he had to, but got the fairest deals for employees. Many a times, small matters such as inadequate quality or quantity of food can be a big irritant. Dr. Babar worked at this level without being asked. He kept on improving facilities for staff in so many areas.
It is good to do everything by the book, but it is nice to do favors which can be done without breaking the rules. Dr. Babar was a specialist in that. He developed his staff continuously and worked for continuous upgradation of staff on an overall basis.
As they say in Army, ‘He was an Officer and a Gentleman’. I would say the same about Dr. Babar. May Allah accept his deeds and elevate him in the hereafter. Aameen.
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