An Interview of Mr. Majid Maqbool, a faculty of NUST
“I’m indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well.” Alexander the great might have ruled the world thousands of years ago but what he said about teachers still holds true. Words cannot do justice to the impact teachers have on a nation, they are the true artists and naturists of a realm.
One such inspirational instructor is Majid Maqbool. More popularly known as Sir Majid. Majid Maqbool is part of School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, NUST’s solicitously assembled faculty. He holds degrees in Computer Science and Business Administration, two interdisciplinary fields from University of Windsor, Canada.
It’s a no brainer that given his interdisciplinary educational background he has expertise in diverse fields ranging from computer programming to alternative sources of energy to sustainable business systems. He has transpired creativity, innovation and resourcefulness in each and every student he has taught in SEECS.
But he is most famous for what he described himself as the “Entrepreneurship Lab”. More commonly known as “Sir Majid ka Café”. It’s a place where hopeful entrepreneurs can meet up and discuss their world changing ideas. In the true spirit of entrepreneurship, Sir Majid hands over the management of café to the graduating batch of SEECS each year with a challenge to introduce something new.
Under his mentorship, SEECS-NUST has produced quite a few successful startups in the short span of 8 years he has been here. Aloo Clan, Magision,Cricflex and Codistan are perhaps more well known to start up enthusiasts in Pakistan, but in SEECS a whole wall has been set up to celebrate the achievements of students acutely named as “SEECS Entrepreneurship Wall”.
“I take immense pride in my students” he exclaimed with warmth as he humbly walks past the entrepreneurship wall
Sir Majid’s inspiration was his own father who refused to let his humble background stand in the way of success and starting from a school under the local village tree, acquired Gold medals in both of his masters’ programs.
“Place and circumstances don’t matter. Always be prepared to face any kind of situation in life. Setting priorities for your (usage of) time can get you past every challenge in life”, he humbly explains his ideology of life while pointing to a device made by his students which can charge cellphones while riding a motorbike. “I firmly believe in learning by doing. I encourage students to invest their time and efforts and learn to work together because I firmly believe that students have the potential to create future.”
Sir Majid may attribute his students’ success to their dedication and hard work but his young crop of successful innovators are full of praise for him. Aloo Clan is a household name in Islamabad for everything related to digital marketing. It started from Sir Majid’s entrepreneurship lab as a semester project of two students. Usama Tauqeer still fondly remembers his mentor’s exact words.
“I had serious doubts over the profitability aspect of our project but Sir Majid said if we can cover the basic expenses of our kitchen, we should go for it. And that’s what we did. He taught us how to set a realistic and market oriented approach and this really gave us an idea what starting a business is all about.”
Not surprisingly, Aloo Clan’s biggest competitors are also former students of Sir Majid. Codistan is another go to company for web development in Islamabad and its founder Afnan Sharief had similar inspiring words he remembered from his mentor. “I was afraid that I would fail but he (Sir Majid) said never let that thought stop you from doing what you have always wanted to do.”
Sir Majid’s expertise has not gone unnoticed in NUST and he is frequently asked to teach entrepreneurship by other schools, such as NUST Business School which has dedicated business faculty of its own. It might be burdensome for most professionals to cater to additional assignments but Sir Majid loves teaching. “Anyone who passes by my office door becomes my student.” He said.
It wasn’t surprising to hear about his hobby: gardening and nurturing plants in the rare free time he gets. And just like the rest of his passions, he has passed this on to his students as well. He loves gardening and his father’s desire for planting fragrant roses before his death became his inspiration. Recently, he has launched another project named as “Horticulture.” It is a small activity in which he and his students plant seeds in vacant fields of NUST every Wednesday for an hour in mid-noon.
I parted company with him with an inspiring phrase which I will always remember: “I teach my students to replace “I” with “We”.” With mentors like him in our ranks, I am sure we will finally find our place in this ever emerging universe of technology.