Ms. Sobia Maqbool's Profile

Having recently completed her MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School, Sobia has returned to Pakistan to pursue her passion to work towards enhanced financial inclusion in the country, particularly for women. Sobia is also a CFA charter holder and has previously done her MBA from IBA. She has over 11 years of experience in the financial services sector, in Pakistan and the Middle East, having worked with an affiliate of Japan Credit Rating Agency and one of the infrastructure arms of Islamic Development Bank (IIRA). Sobia’s ability to apply herself in various analytical situations and work effectively with people, allowed her to rapidly accelerate in her career, as she managed the pan-Pakistan operations of JCR-VIS while also implementing strategy for international expansion for IIRA, including its transition to financial stability and expansion of operations in more than 10 countries. Her public representations include talks delivered at various high-profile gatherings of finance professionals internationally in addition to authoring various risk assessment methodologies. She has also been actively engaged in volunteer work in the field of education, working with the local arm of Lions Club International to increase opportunities for greater access to learning resources for under-privileged children.

Abstract

Harvard Pakistan Trek (Building Narrative – Beyond the Headlines)

In summer 2015, I was admitted to Harvard Kennedy School; excited to become part of an emancipated culture, ready to immerse myself for two years in this new world – break new grounds – learn and engage. While I was orienting myself to this new environment, I was devastated by the deeply embedded negative perception of Pakistan, that was based on media rhetoric’s which negated the facts and realities on-ground. This pained me, and I set about to changing this narrative by inviting Harvard students on a trek to Pakistan.

In March 2016, I had hardly managed to convince eight students. We travelled from Lahore to Islamabad to Skardu. We not only did the usual site seeing but also met policy makers - Shahbaz Sharif, Imran Khan and Gen Wynne; interacted with students at LUMS and NCA; had the privilege to observe the works of Edhi, Citizens Foundation and Damen. A host family opened their home for them to peep into our family lifestyle and they roamed a typical village; randomly being invited by people and offered chai.

Little did I realize back then, that I would be doing this again! As plans for spring break 2017 were rolled out, no less than 100 students applied this time! The perceptions had begun to change! People wanted to learn beyond the headlines.

Since then, my friend, Iggi announced that he would be coming to Pakistan for his honey moon, while Nelson said that he had read in many brochures about a country’s hospitality but felt the warmth for the first time in Pakistan. Christoph observed the pride of the locals on the street who proudly adorned their own clothes rather than hand me down old clothes from the west.

The narrative did change. Today students from 4 of the world’s top schools are eager to go on this journey with me!


Ms. Sobia Maqbool
Head of Research
Pakistan Microfinance Company Ltd.

Fulbright Master’s
2015-2017
Harvard University

 

 

 

 
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