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.
“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.