About Me – A Complete Interview

“Companies that fail in technological innovation and do not invest in workforce development will lag behind, hence disappear in this competition driven world “
(Omar Farooq).

Interwood, going on with its evolution is making continuous efforts to stay on top of technological advancement, thus, leaving a great impact on the Pakistani furniture industry. Founded in 1974 by Mr. Farooq Malik, INTERWOOD MOBEL is Pakistan’s leading manufacturer and retailer with a wide range of product categories, namely: Office Furniture, Home Furniture, Kids Furniture, Kitchens, Doors, Wardrobes, Flooring and Lifewares. It caters to the need of corporate clients as well as domestic clients and provides value for money. Ever since its inception, Interwood has concentrated its efforts in giving best value to the customers by providing them with functional and well-designed furniture. The following is an exclusive interview with CEO Mr. Omar Farooq, who with his simple and innovative approach wants to take the business global.

About My Academic And Professional Background

After graduating from Government College Lahore in 1991 with Mathematics, Statistics and Economics as my main subjects, I proceeded to the UK and got B.Sc. degree from Brunel University, London, in furniture Production. Upon my return to Pakistan in 1995, I joined my family business as production director, I was promoted by the board as Chief Executive Officer in January 2012.

Omar Farooq – Photo from Hunza Tour 2020

Initiatives I have undertaken to give a more modern and professional outlook to Interwood?

Omar-Farooq-CEO-Interwood
Omar-Farooq-CEO-Interwood

When I joined the organization, it was just a basic shop using basic tools of carpentry. In this highly competitive business environment of today, there can be no survival and growth without innovation technology and system. With this basic fact in mind, we undertook a vigorous modernization plan, the cornerstone of which was hiring thoroughly professional people. The company is more highly qualified by professionals heading various departments of the business contributing to the company’s rapid growth. During the last decade, the company has grown by 30% annually and established 13 showrooms in 3 regions to penetrate the market, all the while maintaining two of its core values; Innovation, and continuous growth. In fact, the whole corporate culture in the company has witnessed significant changes in the past few years. We are now planning to reach out to other cities and capture more customers through the use of digital technology.

Our principal clients, and which major projects have we so far executed?

In corporate sector our clients are Emaar, Avari Hotels, Pearl Continental Hotels, Agha Khan University, Namal Education, IBA, Allied Bank, Sindh Bank, PTCL, Atlas Honda, Civil Aviation and many more.
In Retail sector we are having 13 showrooms in Lahore, Sialkot, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar and Karachi. Also, we are having our dealers in Multan and Hyderabad.

In this highly competitive world, what distinguishes Interwood from other players in the market?

Interwood, going on with its evolution is making continuous efforts to stay on top of technological advancements, thus, leaving a great impact on the Pakistani furniture industry. Focusing solely on providing its customers with the best quality products, Interwood stays ahead of its game by making the best out of its Research and Development department.
Acquiring new technology along with reducing costs is helping the organization greatly in executing critical, time consuming and innovative production processes with ease. Therefore, we are able to successfully meet all challenges in production, and bring them at par with international standards. In the last two years the company plant area has grown by 30%, thus enhancing production capacity by 3 times. The plant area of the company is around 600,000 SFT and is equipped with more than 300 machines that perform various woodworking activities in different sections of different production stages.

Vision and mission of Interwood and the core values that define its business philosophy

Our vision is to achieve excellence (کسب کمال کن که عزیز جهان شوی). Our mission is to become a world-class manufacturer of furniture, kitchens, doors, wardrobes, Office and Home Furniture. We are committed to a constant improvement and innovation in designs, system and quality of our products and services. We strive to give the customer best value for money. Our earnest endeavor is to upgrade the skills, knowledge and the standard of living of all employees to international standards. We have a genuine concern for the environment and safety of the communities we operate in. We believe in 6 core values: righteousness, commitment, quality, equal opportunities, innovation and continuous growth.

What Is leadership?

Leadership is all about taking the right decisions at the right time without delay. It also means facing challenges, addressing issues and tackling problems in a systematic and professional manner, so that the routine operations of the business remain undisturbed and uninterrupted. I believe that leadership is not something that can be taught. It involves self-evaluation, positive attitude and sense of responsibility and honesty.

How do I groom myself as a better and more efficient leader?

I am member of YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization) founded by Ray Hickok in America, in 1950. It is a global network of young chief executives with approximately 24,000 members in more than 130 countries of the world. YPO is the global platform for chief executives to engage and learn through exchange of ideas. I am representing Pakistan on the regional board of YPO as Finance Officer.

What core competencies do I like to see in the upcoming CEOs?

To me, important attribute of a successful CEO is his humility, along with a strong eagerness to learn. One should never believe that he knows everything. Instead, he should always be an ardent learner and an attentive listener. If there is something that he doesn’t know, he should be bold enough to ask someone to help him out. Besides this, he should be an embodiment of honesty, commitment, passion and hardwork.

What mechanism have I evolved for the constant grooming, training and mentoring of your staff?

After developing a professional HR team, Interwood is focusing to bring in skilled, qualified and experienced professionals to manage various segments of our business. We are, therefore, rapidly moving towards this direction.
We have divided our training mechanism into two major categories, Skill development program for our workers, and for that we have collaborated with external partners such as PSDF (Punjab Skills Development Fund) and DTI (Descon Training Institute) and secondly Management Training Program (MDP) for our management employees which enhances their professional and core managerial skills. By using this mechanism, we are moving in the right direction to train our human capital more effectively.

How many women are working in Interwood and their performance

Having women in the workforce bring a lot of positive changes in the organization. Interwood is taking several initiatives to diversify its workforce across board.
Currently our gender diversity is around 5%. Induction of women in Interwood is encouraged for all departments, from production to sales (80% employees of R&D are women). We believe that women bring in unique perspective of taking responsibility in achieving targets and goals. We intend to increase our gender diversity numbers in coming years as we are an equal opportunity employer.

What steps have we taken so far to fulfill our corporate social responsibility?

There are several ways through which Interwood is making contribution to the society however we believe that if we educate in skills development, they become better members of the society. Hence, Interwood sponsored DTI to build complete lab for carpenters’ training. We also keep supporting others education sectors to contribute our role in making our country a better place.

Definition of Success and Happiness To Me

Success is the outcome of hardwork, passion, commitment and honesty. Happiness is when dreams are achieved and some extra ordinary thing is achieved by living simply.