The Brilliant 25-Year-Old HND Graduate of Edwardes College Becomes the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of School of Leadership

“You need to show up for work. Every day.…” Credits: Almas Baig & Shutter Life

This is a story of a young man who became the COO of Pakistan’s leading learning organisation. And he is just turned 25.

The young man is Hammad Saeed, an HND (Higher National Diploma) graduate of Edwardes College. He is Chief Operating Officer (COO) at School of Leadership (SoL).

“ I like making sense out of a mess and I’m not just talking about untangling earphones. I like the idea of figuring out patterns and connecting the dots. Challenges drive me. If I could have any superpower, I’d choose super speed (no more traffic jams!).”
“I feel free” at Taj Mahal, Agra, India

Here is how he did it.

It is 2007.

A 16-year-old walks on the campus to study humanities.

Starts playing hockey with senior guys and impresses with his acting abilities in Doctor Faustus.

Aces inter exams. Intrigued by sheer energy of HND folks in Centenary Building, finds more about the course and finds himself taking the Business Studies course in 2009.

Now he is 18. A young man who is hungry to learn.

On his first day of orientation week, sits in the first row of HND classroom. There is something different about him. He Asks questions. Lots of them. Loves the energy and passion of tutors.

On his way back to home that day, tells himself, “You are in the right place. Finally!”

It is a Monday. And he is in a bank on University Road in Peshawar. No, he is not there to deposit money. He is there to talk to the Branch Manager about their marketing strategy. This is part of his assignment for the marketing course in HND.

But you say, he is only 18. How the heck can he identify and report on the strategies of a corporate organisation? Well, that is precisely what HND makes you learn. It makes you learn theory but focuses more on teaching practical skills for career. From day one!

Istanbul, Turkey

HND at Edwardes College is a preparatory program at undergraduate level for future entrepreneurs. It also prepares you for university education in Pakistan and United Kingdom.

HND is an international qualification of Pearson UK and Edwardes College is the pioneering international centre for HNDs in Pakistan. Edwardes started offering HNDs in 2003. HND at Edwardes is offered in Business Studies and Computer Science.

Are you 18? Have you completed your intermediate or A-Levels? And are you thinking if HND is right for you? So let’s ask yourself where do you want to go from here.

At 18, students have different aspirations. Some dream of going abroad for higher studies. The entrepreneurial ones want to create business startups. And then there are those who aspire to work at multinational organisations.

When you get into HND, think of yourself as being employed by a cool and not-so-boring band of faculty members. Young people need inspiring role-models at this age. HND provides it. Your tutors are also your mentors, friends, and sometimes shoulders-to-cry-on. Some cry with joy here. Promise!

“I don’t need a measuring tape.” Qutub Minar, India

We feel energy when he is around. He has a Work-Like-Hell attitude. There are times when we kick him out of the Computer Lab in the basement. But how do you make him stop. You don’t. He loves work!

You realise that he is prepared for HND. Serious about academics. Committed. Passionate. Has tons of energy! Always willing to learn. His secret superpower is his love for challenges. And it is tested many times. In the classroom, campus and out in the world.

In his words…

“I knew about HND when I was an inter student. You guys were always doing interesting projects which I found fascinating. Think about this. Most kids are ill-prepared when they start their university education. HND feels like an extended bootcamp for learning career and life skills. Our tutors simulate situations for us. Some days we feel like participants of Dragons’ Den. And on other, planning our assignments and projects make us feel like kings in Game of Thrones. We arrange events. Research problems in the market by talking to real customers. Work in teams. Raise funds. Basically we learn all the skills required in job market. Who teaches that when you are under 20 in Pakistan? HND does.”
“Screw it, Let’s Do it”

It is here in HND block in Edwardes that he perfects his chops of marketing, managing events, and leading and inspiring teams.

His passion for learning is so contagious that you learn when he is around. His favourite questions start with ‘why’.

It is Semester 1. He is a freshman who is taking courses of Marketing, Organizational Behaviour, Managing Financial Resources and Business Environment.

One afternoon, after his classes, he gets in a conversation with a faculty member, let’s call him Mr. X, about LUMS Olympiad, country’s biggest youth olympiad. He asks if Edwardes can compete at that level. Mr. X says, “Why Not?”.

So in the mildly chilled March of 2010, Edwardes prepares itself for its first ever entry in the national event. Hammad hustles. Inspires. Manages. And then leads Team Edwardes at LUMS in Lahore. This is valuable and hands-on experience for the young man. After an eventful week of ups and downs, team clinches the Best-Gamer Award. And Hammad befriends Mr.X.

Back home, he is a already a celebrity. Principal adores him. What a great ambassador of Edwardian community!

On his return from Lahore, he starts to find his own voice. Comes up with a brilliant idea of founding a student club. Names it Leaders - the voice of young millennials (Facebook Generation).

He is strategic with picking meeting spots for meetings of Leaders. Edwardians know all of them. For Haleem and Shami Kebab, it is Haleem Ghar in Saddar. RA Bazzar in Cantt for karahi or samosas if it is raining. And Chief Burger if he wants to chat with people who live on other side of city.

Leaders stages a variety of events. Here’s how it does it in the coming years. Events in 2010: E-Gaming Competition, Living Life — a workshop for teachers, and a Futsal Tournament.

All this preparation makes him ready for something big.

He leads and inspires Leaders and stages the biggest (at that time) youth conference of KP, Screw It, Let’s Do it. Yes! That’s a name of a conference in Peshawar. The name is inspired from Richard Branson’s autobiography of the same name. The beautiful campus is full of buzz for 2 days when 180 youngsters go through experiential sessions focused on personal leadership and self-awareness.

This is the start of something new.

Hammad is elated with the response from campuses of KP. He says…

“It is amazing to see a diverse crowd. Everyone is here. Beaconhouse, IMSciences, KMC, City, University, CECOS, and Comsats. All of them! Participants are loving all the activities. My favourite bit is outdoor activities on Tennis Lawns”.

The lead trainer is Umair Jaliawala, CEO SoL. After the conference, he takes Hammad under his wing and recruits him as a Learning Consultant in SoL. That is 8 months before his HND graduation. And he is still 20.

In 2011, Leaders arranges Art Fest, Campus to Corporate- a career skills workshop, and second edition of Futsal.

He tops his batch and is awarded a gold medal for his academic achievements in HND. This surprises everyone. Not us.

We have known the maverick from day one. He is no ordinary student. He is special. Not because he has more talent than other people but he puts in more hours. He shows up for work every day.

Credits: Educators Development Union

Gets accepted to a BBA course of an Australian university in Islamabad. Works in the morning and studies in the evening. In no time, establishes the north office of SoL and gets promoted to a managerial position.

In 2011, his amazing SoL team brings Dastan-e-Ishq (Tales of Passion) to a packed Canterbury Hall in Edwardes. Umair Jaliawala, CEO SoL speaks to over 1000 students. Umair mesmerises with tales and lessons of sufis, change-makers and innovators like Edhi, Bulleh Shah, Muhammad Ali and Steve Jobs.

In 3 years, he is promoted to Head Education. During this time, he works with corporate organisations, universities and non-profits.

“Holding two mics, in case one stops working. Yes, you need to be ready. All the time!!” Credits: Haseeb

Then comes a big one.

It is 2016.

A few months ago, he becomes the Chief Operating Officer (COO). That’s before his 25th birthday.

This hardworking maverick makes everyone in the Edwardian and HND community proud.

Well done, Hammad!

This is written by a A-Not-So-Secret Admirer of him.

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