The top national and multinational companies in Bangladesh once hired foreign nationals on their boards of directors and in high positions. However, the scenario has changed a lot in the last few years. Bangladeshis are being hired in various high positions, including the management and board of directors of multinational companies as well as domestic companies. And under their leadership, the companies are running successfully. In today’s video, we will talk about the CEOs of 5 companies that are successfully operating in various industries in Bangladesh.
1. Ali Reza Iftekhar- CEO of Eastern BANk Ltd (EBL)
Eastern Bank Limited or EBL is the 4th largest private commercial bank in the banking industry of Bangladesh in terms of market capitalization. In the past 4-5 years, when the banking industry of Bangladesh was suffering from a liquidity crisis, EBL was the only bank that managed to maintain its outstanding deposit growth of 19%. Ali Reza Iftekhar is the current CEO and MD of this bank which is in the leading position in the banking industry in Bangladesh. During his career of 37 years, he held important positions in various national, private, and international banks like Standard Chartered Bank and AB Bank.
Ali Reza Iftekhar has been working as the CEO of Eastern Bank for 15 years since 2007. Under his prudence and visionary leadership, Eastern Bank was able to receive the “International Finance Banking” award in 2021 as the Fastest Growing Digital Bank of Bangladesh. EBL has also been recognized as “Bank of the Year” by Banker magazine, 2 years in a row. Besides, EBL won the ICSB National Award for Corporate Governance Excellence. Under his leadership, Eastern Bank has been able to establish itself as one of the valuable financial brands among private commercial banks. Besides, he has led the Association of Bankers, Bangladesh, and Scheduled Bank Managing Directors Forum for two terms in 2014-15 and 2020-21.
2. Yasir Azman- CEO of GrameenPhone
GrameenPhone is the leading mobile network operator in the telecommunication industry, holding the highest market share of 46%, with 8.34 million subscribers. The current CEO of Grameenphone “Yasir Azman” is the first Bangladeshi CEO since the inception of the company. Before that, Michael Foley was appointed CEO of Grameenphone Bangladesh. Yasir Azman served as the company’s Chief Marketing Officer since 2015 and was promoted to CEO in 2021 after serving as Deputy Chief Executive Officer in 2017. Before starting his career at GrameenPhone, he headed the “Distribution & eBusiness” division of Grameenphone’s parent company, Telenor Group.
In addition, from 2010 to 12, he worked for Telenor India operations as EVP, and Circle Business Head for Odisha and Karnataka territories in India. He was also a major contributor in setting up Grameenphone’s sales and distribution wing and making changes to the existing distribution infrastructure. While serving as CMO at Grameenphone, Mr. Azman played a leading role in the company’s growth and transformation into a digital-centric organization. In his education career, he completed his MBA from the Institute of Business Administration, Dhaka University, and participated in various executive education programs at London Business School and INSEAD, France.
3. Zaved Akhtar- CEO of Unilever
Unilever is one of the largest FMCGs in Bangladesh. Unilever offers more than 400 brand products in more than 190 countries of the world, including Bangladesh. According to a source from The Financial Express, nine out of ten households in Bangladesh are using one or more Unilever products. “Javed Akhtar” is currently working as the CEO and MD of this multinational company that has been operating in Bangladesh for a long time. He completed his graduation from the IBA Department of Dhaka University. In 1997, he started his career as the Territory and Assistant Brand Manager of British American Tobacco Bangladesh.
Later, in 2000, he joined the Oral Care segment of Unilever Bangladesh as Senior Brand Manager. In 2004, he was promoted to the position of Regional Brand Innovation Manager of the company and later served as Brand Director of Rexona Asia, Unilever’s Rexon brand, from 2009 to October 2013. Later, he served as Vice President of Unilever’s South Asian Digital Transformation & Growth in India from September 2019 to June 2021. Javed Akhtar, who has been working with responsibility for more than two decades, took over the post of CEO and MD of Unilever Bangladesh Limited on 1st July 2021.
4. Ahsan Khan Chowdhury- CEO of Pran
Pran is one of the largest food and beverage manufacturing companies in Bangladesh. Pran has more than 200 brands under its food and beverage wing, which are exported to around 145 countries around the world, including Asia, Africa, and Europe, along with Bangladesh. Ahsan Khan Chowdhury is currently serving as the CEO of Pran, one of the FMCG manufacturers in Bangladesh. The company started its journey in 1981 under the leadership of Major General Amjad Khan Chowdhury. After his death in 2015, his son Ahsan Khan Chowdhury has been serving as CEO of the pre-RFL Group since 2016. Ahsan Khan Chowdhury returned to Bangladesh in 1992 with a degree in Business Administration from America’s Wartburg College and started his career as Deputy Managing Director of Pran RFL Group in 1993.
Under his leadership, Pran Group has been conducting business activities in the food and beverage, plastic, furniture, light engineering, and real estate sectors as well. According to a source from The Financial Express, the pran-RFL Group exported goods worth a total of $341 million in the fiscal year 2020-21. He has already been awarded Commercially Important Person or CIP by the Government of Bangladesh for his outstanding contribution to Bangladesh’s industrial growth and exports. Also, he is a member of the Executive Committee and Sponsor Director of Midland Bank Limited.
5. Syed Gousul Alam Shaon- CEO of Grey Bangladesh
Gray Bangladesh, one of the most renowned creative agencies in Bangladesh, has created all the popular advertisements for companies like Coca-Cola, PRAN, Apex, ACI, and Grameen Phone. Syed Gousul Alam Shaon is currently employed as Managing Partner & Country Head of the company. He completed BA in Economics from Delhi University in 1997 and Post Graduation from the Indian Institution of Mass Communication, Jawaharlal Nehru University in 1999. He started his career at Rediffusion-DY&R advertising agency in Delhi. Later he joined McCann Erickson affiliate Unitrend Ltd.in Dhaka in 2001 as Head of Strategic Planning. Served as Creative Director at Asiatic from 2004 to 2006.
In 2007, Shaon joined GRAY Bangladesh as General Manager of the strategic planning and creative department. Currently, he is working as Creative Chief, Managing Partner, and Country Head of the agency. Under his leadership, GRAY became the only Bangladeshi creative agency to win the prestigious Cannes Lions and Spikes Asia and APAC Effie, as well as winning the “Agency of the Year” award 9 times. Also, he is a popular writer, actor, and producer in Bangladesh, Who was associated with popular movies and TV series like Ayanabaaji, Feluda, and Rickshaw Girl.