A challenge awaits us in the near future, when finding a professional manager will prove more difficult than one can expect. The reason behind this is that the first generation of entrepreneurs who envisioned today's Bangladesh after the country's liberation, did not invest in creating professional managers who can the lead organisations. In most cases, they themselves or their family members occupied the important positions in their organisations. They took all the business decisions by themselves. While they conducted business here, their children were sent abroad for higher education.
When the time came, the second generation returned and took control of these organisations. But instead of creating new leadership and professional managers, they began to hire managers and experts from neighbouring countries. These imported managers, with their expertise in gimmicky presentations of business projection have nothing better to offer.
Sadly, the persistent unwillingness of top management bodies of Bangladeshi organisations to create leaders and professional managers has had lasting effects. Most of the third generation of entrepreneurs are content with their foreign passports. They have no intention of returning to this country. As a result, soon the country will face a dearth in entrepreneurs and professional managers.
Lack of initiatives from the government, coupled with declining standards in education has created a vacuum of professional managers that continues to grow. According to a recent study, by 2023-2025, Bangladesh will need more than 100,000 professional managers. In reality, there will be no more than 20,000, with most of them lacking professional managerial degrees.
The truth is that the country is yet to have institutions like Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA). Also, the number of basic short/long courses to train budding managers is low. As a result, entrepreneurs and industrialists in Bangladesh are bound to repeat their earlier mistake of hiring foreign mangers or inexperienced family members. Certainly, the Bangladesh government is not unaware of the situation. It is taking steps to counter these problems.
At the moment, the country's organisations are suffering due to two reasons:
The local organisations are also oblivious to the quality of foreign professional managers that they are recruiting. The largest group of managers in Bangladeshi organisations is usually from India, followed by Sri Lanka.
During an interaction with a manager from India, it was learnt that among the four types of managers in India, the first category (the best) goes to America and Western Europe. The second category stays in India. Professional managers from the third and fourth categories aim for organisations in Middle-East, South-East Asia and Africa. Those who do not belong to any of these four categories are eventually destined for countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri-Lanka.
In this way, local business organisations are leading themselves on to a difficult future. The time is now to change the course, take actions that will help create and nurture more professional managers. The government should set up more institutions that will provide degrees and training to managers already serving in some organisations.
Tanveer Islam is General Manager (Export) at PRAN-RFL Group.
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