Asad Umar's journey from corporate titan to finance minister

Published: August 20, 2018


The only candidate whose victory was announced by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on their Twitter page with the caption “Name the next finance minister of Pakistan please!” was corporate titan Asad Umar.

Umar graduated from the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi in 1984 and did a short stint at HSBC Pakistan before moving to what was then Exxon Chemical Pakistan as a business analyst. When Umar resigned from Engro Corporation after 27 years of an incredibly successful business career, many knew it was to pursue what would become a highly successful political career. Umar had shown an inclination towards Imran Khan-led PTI and rumours spread that he would join the party.

In 2012, Umar announced that he was joining PTI. When he was awarded the party ticket for the 2018 elections, many already guessed that he would be the party’s candidate for finance chief.

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“Umar represents the growing class of executives trained by the country’s business schools who made it big by working their way up the corporate ladder rather than being born into privilege,” The Express Tribune wrote after Umar’s retirement from Engro.

His tenure at Engro has certainly been a remarkably successful one. When Umar took over as president and CEO of the company in January 2004, Engro was largely just a fertiliser manufacturer with a small petrochemical subsidiary. Under his leadership, however, the company turned into a diversified industrial conglomerate, with interests ranging from fertilizers, foods, petrochemicals, chemical storage, energy and commodity trading.

Even within the core fertiliser business, Umar took Engro from being a local player to a globally competitive one, leading the firm into the $1.1 billion project that set up the world’s largest single-train urea manufacturing plant in Pakistan.

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Reader Comments (4)

  • salman
    Aug 20, 2018 - 2:25PM

    Future PM after IK.Recommend

  • Aftab Alam Khan
    Aug 20, 2018 - 7:10PM

    This is a one sided hagiography. Asad was asked to leave Engro when the billion dollar investment in the Urea plant based on borrowing went sideways. The food business suffered continuous losses and was eventually sold after he left. The LNG terminal business is the one that PTI complains about being paid 272000$ a day . The same urea business that fed him for 27 years was labeled a farmer exploiting Cartel by him and PTI. He still owns shares. So there is a strong element of phoniness about him. Be careful everybody: look at the facts.Recommend

  • Ahmad
    Aug 20, 2018 - 10:43PM

    @Aftab Alam Khan:

    Yes the $1.1bn investment went sideways, when the gas for that plant was not provided by the govt against the investment of $1.1bn, the gas was to be provided under ‘sovereign’ guarantee of Pakistan, but Zardari essentially told them ‘no’.

    The corrupt mafia wrecked the $1.1bn investment, these are the looters, corrupt Nawaz and Zardari mafia. ‘Recommend

  • Raja
    Aug 22, 2018 - 4:10PM

    Regardless of what he did or didnt do well in his past life, he is our Finance Minister, we need to get behind him, one thing is for sure, he cant be worse then anyone appointed by Zardari and NS. Recommend

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