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Chat with Cisco Country General Manager, Dr. Aamir Matin

Chat with Dr Amir MatinA few days back I had the opportunity to sit down for an hour long talk with Dr. Aamir Matin, the Cisco Country General Manager who had flown in from Islamabad to be in Karachi for a few days. The casual meeting was arranged through the efforts of Rabia Garib of Rasala Publications and editor of NetXpress Online who just wanted us to sit and talk about anything over a cup of coffee.

There were no questions, per se, but a casual conversation where we touched a number of issues related to the IT industry, the overall economy in Pakistan and at the same time we did also touch the political nerve somewhere in between. It goes without doubt that Dr. Matin catches you a little off guard, where I expected an aloof CEO sitting across the table, but this guy was simply fun to talk to his casual style was definitely worth noting and I must admit he does carry refreshing aura of energy around him

Cisco is without doubt a core player in Pakistan’s IT arena and seems to have done well in Pakistan promoting its products in the open market while at the same time being mindful of its due role of corporate social responsibility here in Pakistan. Dr. Matin heads this unit fully aware of the difficulties facing this country and he remains adamant at exploring every opportunity available to Cisco and Pakistan, he was upbeat to point out that there has been a marked growth in infrastructure in the past few years and expects this growth to continue on into the years to come. To explain this phenomenon he had one simple sentence which aptly summarized the issue ‘if our routers are selling like hotcakes there must be something going on right in the country to show this growth’.

It was truly casual statements like these, that showed the dynamism of this corporate leader, no complicated numbers, no messy chatter, just simple logic. This statement was more of a response to a question where I specifically asked him about the present political uncertainly and a potential failing economy. He honestly believed that the present political unrest was definitely worrisome for everyone in Pakistan but was confident that the industry will continue its due course of growth and development regardless of what and who comes into power.

On further discussions it was really interesting to hear about Cisco Pakistan being fully aware of its social responsibility to the country in general, which quenched my worries to show that Cisco was not all about ‘making money’ but instead played a very important role in selected projects related to corporate social responsibility, which included integrating and managing the entire IT structure of Shaukat Khanam Memorial Hospital and up linking the Lahore based facilities for telemedicine and video conference to centers around the world. Dr. Aamir also pointed out that similar projects are being setup in other parts of the country helping Pakistan come into the cutting edge of medical technology

Diving a little further away from Cisco we had a very spirited discussion on the overall Pakistani Internet, though Cisco is not integrally linked to content production on the Internet but admits that it does carefully watch the overall growth of Internet browsing in Pakistan. Dr. Matin was ready to admit that Internet penetration was not growing in tandem with other sectors and did worry that this may have to do with the a scarce availability of good content in the Urdu language. We both mutually agreed that the present unicode Urdu font typeface used on the websites was difficult to read as compared to typeface people are accustomed to while reading the morning newspaper, we worried that unless the font typeface was not improved the Internet penetration to the Urdu speaking masses may find some serious difficulties.

Rabia did mention and share a few organizations who were previously developing the Urdu arena but we all were unsure as to the present stage of development. Dr. Matin genuinely felt that the government should be working hard in sorting this issue out but bureaucratic stubbornness will most likely lead to nowhere as the Ministry of IT might pass the buck on to the Urdu Board and vice verso the Urdu Board might defer the concept back to the Ministry of IT since its an Internet issue. Unless a concerted effort is made by the Government of Pakistan one might actually not see the Urdu content proliferating on the world wide web

At the same time we did observe that most of people who venture onto a computer and connect to the Internet can in some small way read and maybe understand English, at least enough for them to enter a URL and maybe read the text, whilst it must be remembered that English is still be taught as a main language along with Urdu that the upcoming generation will be far more English aware to make-do with surfing the web. A logical question then comes to mind, is it necessary to work on developing Urdu Internet, when the upcoming generation will predominantly use English as its main language? The answer to this question remained unanswered but Dr. Matin truly felt that more work needs to be done to promote local languages in a far more serious way.

Armed with a PhD in IT Project Management from Cranfield University in the UK, a Masters in Computer Science from the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Shiraz University in Iran, I feel Dr. Aamir Matin has done a spectacular job in raising the bar for the IT industry in Pakistan since his appointment to Cisco Pakistan in early 2006, we expect more from him and for the sake of Pakistan and I would in effect raise the bar slightly higher for him and his team at Cisco Pakistan expecting them to impress us even further.


11 Comments

  • nota |

    Sorry but isn’t it the same clueless Aamir Matin who headed PSEB? He is a bl**dy hack and k*ssing *ss is his speciality. He got his start thru Xavor and was the country head only because he is the cousin of the Xavor president’s (now ex-)wife. There he hired every general’s son he could find and spent most of those years in Islamabad k*ss*ng up to any one who would let him and that panned out into his position as head of PSEB. PSEB was clueless then as it is clueless today and anyone who says it is a “professional” enterprise is only saying so because it gains financially from it (see this example. I would argue Netsol would not be around today if not for Government of Pakistan contracts. As another example, see how Netsol get’s the benefits here) or is totally clueless. They are all bells and whistles and their aim is to make the government’s failed IT policy look successful

    I am truly disappointed with Cisco for being taken in by this guy. Doc, do you really buy this cr*p about “Cisco was not all about making money”? Since when did Cisco stop being a corporation??? I do know something about the Shaukat Khanum Memorial’s IT project — Cisco had NOTHING to do with it’s success. Aamir Mateen taking credit for something he has nothing to do with — so typical!

  • darthvader |

    Thanks TeethMaestro – Just a comment – It’s both sad and invigorating that people are so quick to pass comments without really reallizing what they are saying.

    Sad because the ONLY reason they pass the negative comment is because they aren’t the ones in the driving seat, which is why they’re sitting in a cushy chair, pointing fingers. It’s the internet, for crying out loud! It’s so sad beacuse we’re all so quick to kill what little good this country does, and then cry about how bad our international image is and how we never get work, and how we will never be able to compete with any other country.

    Invigorating because their negativity is inspiring enough for us to take a closer look at our peers.

    And boy, aren’t we all name dropping. I’m sure my comment-mate, is the brother of, who is the sister of so-and-so, who also learned how to poke fingers and talk trash.

    More than anything, here’s the point my friend, Nota, seems to have missed. Aamir Matin ran some of the most high profile organizations and is still there in the industry. You’re not. Who do you think is in a position to make a greater difference? You, by your measly post? Or him, by standing up in an international setting, no matter how big or small, and saying that he represents Cisco in Pakistan?

  • darthvader |

    Thanks TeethMaestro – Just a comment – Its both sad and invigorating that people are so quick to pass comments without really reallizing what they are saying.

    Sad because the ONLY reason they pass the negative comment is because they arent the ones in the driving seat, which is why theyre sitting in a cushy chair, pointing fingers. Its the internet, for crying out loud! Its so sad beacuse were all so quick to kill what little good this country does, and then cry about how bad our international image is and how we never get work, and how we will never be able to compete with any other country.

    Invigorating because their negativity is inspiring enough for us to take a closer look at our peers.

    And boy, arent we all name dropping. Im sure my comment-mate, is the brother of, who is the sister of so-and-so, who also learned how to poke fingers and talk trash.

    More than anything, heres the point my friend, Nota, seems to have missed. Aamir Matin ran some of the most high profile organizations and is still there in the industry. Youre not. Who do you think is in a position to make a greater difference? You, by your measly post? Or him, by standing up in an international setting, no matter how big or small, and saying that he represents Cisco in Pakistan?

  • nota |

    @darthvader
    Sorry about removing the mask of one of your illusions. Don’t feel threatened. You can continue believing “Darth is Real”!!! Anyways, do you have any “facts” to refute what I am saying? Can you deny any of them?

    By the way what name-dropping are you talking about? You say “Aamir Matin ran some of the most high profile organizations”. Name ONE (besides the ones I have already mentioned :) ). No doubt he will be a success as a router salesman and make Cisco a profit using his contacts to sell Cisco’s products to government even though they are not needed. But how does that translates into a feather in the cap of Pakistan’s IT industry? Sure well see reports claiming increased IT spending but most would be spent buying expensive hardware — money that could have been put to better use even in the IT industary.

    Cisco had to have a “local” so they picked him. Big deal! But since you believe in fantasies and swear by illusions, you can put away your light saber and go break open some champagne for you have conquered the “Federation”.

    P.S. Must be a b*tch recharging that light saber these days with all that load-sheding…maybe that and the bombings has something to do with “how bad our international image is and how we never get work, and how we will never be able to compete with any other country.”

  • nota |

    @darthvader
    And before blaming me for all ills of the country and shooting off another rant please do read an excellent piece by Amer Nazir on this blog but be warned — he really does do some name-dropping… :)

  • nota |

    @darthvader
    Here’s another one of your heroes, Dr. Qasim Mehdi at work. He too has “run some of the most high profile organizations.” But of course the fault lies with me and it is my jealousy speaking. Right? :) Here are some of the positions he has held/awards received:
    – HEC Distinguished National Professor
    – Director General Institute of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (KIBGE) University of Karachi
    – Chairman, Southwest Asian Committee Director Biomedical & Genetic Engineering
    – Director, HEJ Research Institute of Chemistry, University of Karachi
    – Director General, Biomedical and Genetic Engineering Division, Dr. A.Q Khan Research Laboratories
    – Three Internationally competitive research awards from UK (according to HEC)
    – Representative of the Ministry of Science & Technology
    – Number of Publications (International/National): 118

    For those who can not read Urdu, here is a brief. One of darthvader’s national heroes just got caught selling books worth Rs 700,000,000 ($11.29 Million) as scrap at Rs 7 per kilogram (11 cents per 2.2 pounds)

  • nota |

    @darthvader
    Where did you disappear? Still looking for answers?? While you are doing that, please also come up with your take on Mush and Shauki as they both meet your criteria for great men and have held great positions. If I blame them for anything, am I being a sour p*ss? And what about Dogar? He holds the position of “Supreme Court Chief Justice” so nothing can be wrong with him. You must love people like Arif Habib, Tariq Aziz, Durrani, et. al. How about your ideal HEC Chairman Dr. Atta-Ur-Rehman? Suppose you would blame Dr. Hoodbhoy’s “negativity inspiring” as well for what does he know about education sitting on his “cushy chair” and how dare he speak against Rehman? Well, I certainly find Hoodbhoy’s negativity very inspiring.

    It is interesting that you chose “darthvader” as your sig, by the way. You must find him so inspiring :)

  • Main Man |

    I knew Amar Mateen somewhat personally in that he was my professor at QAU. He is certainly a capable man and able to see the bigger picture. As for a** kissing we know how it is in Pakistan and you can’t even survive (let alone prosper) without certain amount of a** kissing. That alone does not make a bad person. As I said he is able to see bigger picture and is proven by his heading of various organisations over years. Many may not know that he at one time headed ND (norsk data) which for the first time tried to computerise railway reservation system back in the 80’s. I said tried as their Karachi computer system mysteriously burnt down and the project died with it. Give the man some credit for trying to improve the IT situation and for being a pioneer in the industry.

  • hafiz muhammad waqar sohail |

    your acheivements are really great,sir i want to join Cisco,how can i do this?waiting for your reply

  • ikhtiar ahmed |

    hi this is ikhtiar ahmed i have done ccna and ccnp but i i did found any job
    i m worry abt that plz help me