Lessons in Leadership from Ahmad Ghulamhussain, CEO, APAG

APAG was setup in the 1950s, by the Ghulamhussain family who migrated to Pakistan and setup an edible oil business, their flagship product, Soya Supreme is renowned nationally and heralded for its superior quality and low cholesterol.

VCAST sat down with the CEO of APAG to discuss his company’s new marketing campaign (01:23); thoughts on handling recession (03:25); the responsibility of the private sector in helping clean up Pakistan (04:50); and how he views competition (06:59).

When asked about what really set Soya Supreme apart from its competitors, Ahmed noted that the biggest difference ultimately comes down to processing and packaging. They gained market share by producing a product which was a complete package, according to the CEO Ahmed Ghulamhussain, from the distribution to the research and development of the product, APAG utilized every resource they had to ensure that they didn’t just keep a product on the shelf hoping for it to sell, but they actually informed the consumer as to create awareness about their product.

Being the former head of the marketing department, Ahmed Ghulamhussain takes marketing and ad campaigns very seriously. So much so, that Soya Supreme just recently launched a new ad campaign called: ‘Thora Aur Khao’.

Amazingly, APAG were the first Pakistani company who were in Qatar (in edible oil) and they’re still there. According to Ahmed, their aim to be a proper multinational company and carry the flag of Pakistan throughout the world. When Ahmed went to see personally, he felt immense pride to see a Pakistani company’s product on international shelves, and seeing people of all nationalities buying their product, was a great feeling according to Ahmed.

When heading a major corporation like APAG, one sees many great times, along with some bad times. However, these tougher times have only made them more efficient as Ahmed Ghulamhussain, the CEO of APAG elaborates, that the only way to get out of recession, is by taking a step back and thinking what could we do better? How can we improve ourselves? And most importantly, how can we become more efficient? As Ahmed puts it, recession can be tough on people as sales are affected which in turn affects the departmental budgets and may even lead to people being laid off, but it gives an opportunity to really assess how to take the company forward, and ultimately the company comes out of it only stronger.

Soya Supreme is known very well for their CSR work across Pakistan, which as Ahmed puts it, is their responsibility. APAG has worked with many non-profits and NGOs as part of their CSR Community Cares program, such as the Aga Khan University Hospital, Panah and SAARC Women’s Association. According to Ahmed, we cannot just wait and hope for the government to step in, we ourselves have to step in and be the change. While some may see CSR for just pure public marketing purposes, Ahmed views it as a something which will benefit the country and the private sector as a whole, as when one company will take the lead with CSR, other companies will start to follow which will ultimately benefit Pakistan.

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