An Edifice built on Trust

imageRecently a senior CEO remarked to me about how out of control Engro Foods seemed in its early days and outsiders had no idea what was cooking. This was a general perception, outside of EFL, and was borne out of a lack of knowledge about the philosophy.

Hence, I write this piece.

Management is a fine balance between giving passion and initiative enough freedom and at the same time exercising some control, so that things do not go off the rail. It is a fine art and not a science. You have to know your team well and the game well also…that is a starting point. And it takes courage to stay hands off or on the opposite end, interfere to put things right. There is a time for either end and during the course of a project, you will end up doing both. But predominantly, you tilt towards staying hands off and allowing trust and ownership to inculcate.

In the meantime managing is..

Ensuring flow of knowledge up and down the system
Ensuring flow of authority down the system
Ensuring flow of communication up and down the system
Ensuring flow of finances/resources down the system.

If you do the above properly, then the project should work successfully. When it does not, then it means that sincerity was missing somewhere in the system. Outside the above four dynamics, it is all humans who rule and drive the show. This is the biggest controller at the back. If your employees are driven and have ownership, then they will be sincere and work for the project goal. When all else is excluded and the project goal is owned, then team dynamics happen and when team dynamics happen, we just propel ourselves towards the goal.

It is absolutely fascinating, how fate almost conspires to cause success to happen, when teams work selflessly. I suspect that there is a lot of spirituality which is playing at the back. But unfortunately, there is no way to prove this, except to simply say “it happens”. I have seen this time and again during my own life and heard it from others. Think back simply to the World Cup 1992 and you will understand.

So, EFL was all about this. One created a home with a vision, and got a bunch of people to believe in it. Soon EFL mattered to them more than anything else. Hence they formed a very large family, and fought tooth and nail to achieve success. To enable them to achieve this success, they were given some freedom, and told that they were trusted. This edifice built on trust and ownership, ballooned into a massive company. Such a simple philosophy, but calling for a lot of belief.

* picture taken from


About sarfarazar
I have been lucky! A long career with large scale organisations and some acclaim. Also, took time off to write, mentor and do some education and social development projects. I continue to mentor and help younger people in life. Inshallah, hope to write on various subjects in my blog.

4 Responses to An Edifice built on Trust

  1. Mir m Ali says:

    This is an inspirational story no doubt and great leadership by you which was key to success. And we saw later on what happened.

    Can you throw light on the role ESOP is making of Engro Foods and its impact on the challenges seen later on as it went through mini crisis and then you had to be brought back. Thanks

    • sarfarazar says:

      The ESOP program was instituted in 2008 and ran till 2011. People could sell their shares 2012-14. So it had little to do with early crucial years of EFl, when the base of the company was set through Olpers and Tarang. By the time it came, EFL was well on the way to being a success. But the ESOP might well have sustained it through the middle years. I know the attrition was extremely low in the period 2006-11…something like 4%. Thereafter in the next 18 months it shot up to 40% plus.
      Very difficult for me to say which caused what. Was the downturn a cause of attrition or vice versa, or was it a change in culture or was it simply people encashing ESOP and moving on by monetizing the Resume value. Maybe it was a mix of all three. All I know is it was a different company with some very different people when I arrived back. I have written a blog about it somewhere. My only learning in this: stuff happens and never take anything for granted.

  2. Hamesh khan says:

    There are building blocks to achieving any goal, which foremost is premised upon faith followed by perseverance and focus with commitment to succeed at anything. Faith precedes all and is a combination of spirtuality, sincerity and belief in one’s ability to scale any odds. Sarfraz sahib, am I on mark in synthesising your philosophy of management. Rgds hamesh

    • sarfarazar says:

      Salaam Hamesh, you have very nicely put my blog in a few words. But then if i was to do that, it wont be a blog anymore. Verbosity comes with the territory. Ramadan kareem.

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