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The Biography of a Successful Manager

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Fazle Hasan Abed was born in 1936 in Hobigonj. His father used to work as theDistrict Sub-registrar in Hobigonj. In his childhood when he was studying inHobigonj Government High School, his father got paralysis. At that point of time hewas sent to his uncle who was the district judge in Comilla. He got admitted inComilla Jilla School. After two years, his uncle was transferred to Pabna. Abedmoved with his uncle to Pabna and got himself admitted in Pabna Jilla School. Hepassed his matriculation from that school in 1952.

After that he went to Dhaka andin 1954 he passed his intermediate examination from the famous Dhaka College.

Then he got admitted to University of Dhaka for the Bachelor Degree in Physics. Hedid not complete his degree in this university rather he went to his uncle who wasworking in England. There he again got admitted in Glasgow University to studyNaval Architecture. He had a dream at that time that he will be the first navalarchitect in his country. But after visiting several shipyards in Glasgow, he couldunderstand that he shall not be able to apply his knowledge of naval architecture inhis home country. So, after studying this subject for two years, he left the universityand went to London. There he completed professional accounting course. During hisstudy of professional accounting, his mother died. As a result, he lost interest of coming back to the home country. So he stayed in London and worked there.

Afterthat he went to Canada for another service. Then he went to New York and workedthere. After that he went to several countries with his jobs. In 1968, he came back to his home country and started working as the Head of Finance in Shell Oil Company.In 1971, when the liberation war started, he left the job and joined the war. Afternine months, Bangladesh got independence. At that time Abed started BRAC.

The war dramatically changed the direction of his life. In the face of the brutality andagony of war, the comforts and perks of a Corporate Executive’s life ceased to haveany attraction for him. As the then East Pakistan was under virtual occupation, FazleHasan Abed left his job and went to London to devote himself to Bangladesh’s War of Independence. There, Abed helped initiate a campaign called Help Bangladesh toorganize funds for the war effort and raise awareness in the world about the genocidein Bangladesh.

The war over, Abed returned to the newly independent Bangladesh tofind the economy of his country in ruins. Millions of refugees, who had sought shelterin India during the war, started trekking back into the country. Their relief andrehabilitation called for urgent efforts. Abed decided to initiate his own, by setting upBRAC to rehabilitate returning refugees in a remote area in a northeastern district of Bangladesh. This work led him and his organization BRAC into dealing with thelong-term task of improving the living conditions of the rural poor. Within three decades BRAC became the largest Non-Governmental DevelopmentOrganization (NGO) in the world in terms of the scale and diversity of itsinterventions. Abed ensured that the service of BRAC should go to the landlesspoor, especially the women living in rural Bangladesh. As a large percentage of these women live below the poverty line, they did not have any access to almost anykind of resources.

The fact that Abed has turned his large organization, with an annual budget of US $436 million, 78% self-financing, speaks of his financial acumen and superbmanagement skills.

For his huge contribution to the society, Mr. Abed was honored with so manynational and international awards. Some of the prominent awards of him include:The Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership (1980), Unesco NomaPrize for Literacy (1985), Alan Shawn Feinstein World Hunger Award (1990),Unicef’s Maurice Pate Award (1992), Honorary Doctorate of Education, Universityof Manchester, UK (2003) and some others.

Why Fazle Hasan Abed Is a Succesful Manager

Mr. Abed’sfather used to be a government employee. So he was notfrom a business-familybackground. It may be inferred from the fact that as he had this need (for achievement) and didnot have enough qualifications to go for a highly paid job, he moved towards self-employment and got success. But was highly educated and studied in some of the besteducational institutions both inside and outside the home country.

All those qualities what defines a successful manager, were presented in Fazle Hasan Abed. He is a professional accountant.So it can be said that Abed had these characteristics in him, especially he was self-confident, future oriented, good leaders, risk taker and innovative.But undoubtedly, Mr. Abed started hisorganization BRAC in a war-destroyed feeble economy. Without being self-confident, initiatives like these cannot be taken by anybody.There is no doubt that he was highly future oriented.He wanted to perform a mission with a vision to solve social problems. He had socialmission and their activities had positive social impacts.

Fazle Hasan Abed’s BRAC has become the largest NGOs in the world. He was awarded by some of the best authorities in the world. He hadgood leadershipcapability. He was a visionary leader and his efficient management styles are definitely praiseworthy.

Mortoza(2006) in his book on BRAC has expressed himself as follows: In order to work for this book I have visited BRAC office so many times in the last two or threeyears. I have visited several district offices of BRAC also. I found BRAC’s management verytransparent and efficient. It cannot be compared with the government offices at all. Among theprivate organizations also, only a very few can work as efficiently as BRAC. Fazle Hasan Abedputs high emphasis on the transparency and efficiency of management. This is the main reasonwhy BRAC could establish itself as the biggest NGO in the world.

He was risk taker. He started his social entrepreneurship venture in acountry which had a shabby war-destroyed economy. As they had a social missionand passion for their work, they went for establishing the organizations. Innovationcan be treated as the key entrepreneurial trait for him, which made him unique and successful as a manager.

Fazle Hasan Abed is hard worker, opportunity seeker, innovator, good organizer, future oriented and risk takers, and all of these qualities are must to be a successful manager.


The assignment was prepared with the help of a biographical book About Mr. Fazle Hasan Abed (Mortoza, 2006) and theofficial web site of BRAC (www.brac.net).

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