Meet the Leader: Iqbal Habib

On 18th October, 2018, Global Shapers of Dhaka hub sat down for a roundtable “Meet the Leader” chat with Iqbal Habib, one of the most known environmental activists and architects of Bangladesh.

He is the Managing Director and one of the principal architects of the award-winning architectural firm VITTI Sthapati Brindo Ltd. that designed Hatirjheel–Begunbari Integrated Development Project, Dhanmondi Lake Development Project, Asian University for Women (Local consultant), HQ of the Institute of Architects Bangladesh etc.

The discussion was mostly unmoderated and free-flowing. Some highlights were:

  • Mr.Habib briefly got to know the 13 shapers present in the room. He was quick to catch each person’s names and areas of work
  • Mr.Habib shared some of his principles, and life experiences which helped shape these principles. One of the over-arching themes were along the lines of “not to think of others as less than you” — which is important if we want to create an inclusive society
  • He then recollected some backstories of some of his most acclaimed work including the Dhanmondi Lake Development Project, Gulshan Park, Hatirjheel–Begunbari Integrated Development Project, among many others.
  • Through his captivating storytelling, Mr.Habib relayed to us, the importance of thinking for all stakeholders in a project, getting buy-in and instilling a feeling of ownership in people
  • His stories about activism and fighting for what’s right even when it almost gets you in jail, was both thrilling and inspiring
  • Throughout the 3 hours long session, Mr.Habib had everyone’s attention glued to his stories and had an amazing delivery

Iqbal Habib’s call to action, for the Shapers was to

  • Think Local: Bangladesh has it’s own set of challenges and cultural nuances which makes it necessary to feed in the local context when solving problems of any scale here
  • Change can be made, in every role: We talked about the role of Politics and Policymakers in bringing change in our society — the takeaway was that being a lawmaker or Member of Parliament is not the only way to bring change. We need more subject matter experts, voicing their thoughts, protesting and advocating for it
  • Activism: You gotta fight for what you believe in. Period. Mr.Habib has done this in many cases over his career. Some battles he has won, some he’s lost. But we don’t believe in our cause and fight for it, we lose by default. Mr.Habib urged us to believe and fight.

Meet the Leader sessions serve as a forum to connect Global Shapers with key influencers from all sectors. It aims to promote learning, in addition to an exchange of ideas and collaboration.

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Ahmed Fahad

Ahmed Fahad

Founding team / VP of Product @ Pathao (pathao.com); Global Shaper @ World Economic Forum. (ahmedfahad.com)