Shan Saeed is a Chief Economist at IQI Global, a leading property and investment company operating and advising clients in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Hong Kong, London, Melbourne, Makati, Toronto and Dubai [www.iqiglobal.com]. He has 18 years of solid financial market experience in the areas of private banking, risk /compliance management, commodity investments, global economy, brand and business strategy.Our country has been and is going through tough times. But I consider it a step towards better, stable and progressive country. However, there are many things to be done to achieve that state. Among a plethora of other things, education remains, albeit a clichéd, but critical part of a plan to change our country. Also, the ubiquity and penetration of technology in every facet of life, we ought to mould our policies and strategies according to the growing needs of the tech world. And who else to better talk about it than Mr Shan Saeed, who is a Chief at IQI Global, a leading property and investment company operating and advising clients in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Hong Kong, London, Melbourne, Makati, Toronto and Dubai. With a diverse range of experiences ranging from private banking, risk /compliance management, commodity investments, global economy, brand and business strategy, the man has some great ideas to share! He, after much follow-up and reminders, finally gave me a chance to interview him. Below is the transcript.What is the key to Pakistan’s growth trajectory? Economic confidence is the key in order to achieve economic progression. Political stability brings economic and financial stability for the economy. Investors are keen to work with governments that are transparent and business friendly. Modern infrastructure provides connectivity and increases business confidence. All successful economies have delivered economic outcomes on the basis of economic stability which pays dividends in the shape of prosperity. Things are not smooth at the moment after the current Government of Prime Minister Imran Khan has taken over the reins of power. They face a few challenges ranging from tight cash flows, weak balance sheet, divided bureaucracy to poor corporate governance in most of SOEs.You empower people by enhancing the skill set and building their productivity in the long run. Moving forward, more and more jobs will be created in the area of intellectual capital and technology-driven industriesIn order to fix these variables, it would take some time and it can not happen overnight. People are overly excited and want the government to do a quick fix which is not possible taking into account the economic and financial impediments and structural issues which the PM is trying to get fix. It would take minimum 2 years for the economy to come out of the woods to show its growth again. What’s the your view about the PMIK governmentAnalysing the country, while I am stationed in Asia Pacific region, Pakistani people have started feeling new hope and confidence in the country under the leadership of PMIK. Imran Khan brings credibility and global standing with him. In my opinion, the government looks committed and determined to deliver results to the common man.The main question for you: what should be our focus? I mean in economic strategy?In my opinion, two pillars are important for economic progress education and technology.Education is the most important defence against economic and social turmoil. If the nation has solid education, it would never remain poor and in a bad condition. I can cite a few success stories of some of the countries. South Korea, Japan, Turkey, Poland, China, Sri Lanka, Singapore and UAE for example have incorporated successful strategies.In the modern epoch, I can cite Vietnam to be the star economy in the ASEAN region. Important economic pillars for growth that are education, manufacturing, infrastructure and economic confidence.In 1990, the poverty level in Vietnam was high and almost touched 60 percent. Today poverty levels are below 5 percent. The reason is very simple and straightforward because of the Government’s strategy to educate primary children with an emphasis on female literacy. Vietnam is booming with FDI and has seen an increase of 11 percent in 2017, amounting to $18 billion and remains on the global investors radarThis is my mother’s idea: Female education can change the economic destiny of many nations including Pakistan. Pakistan can follow the same path and economic strategy what others have done in order to become an economic giant. One of my Nobel Laureate Professors Late Prof Gary Becker from University of Chicago Booth, USA, was a strong advocate of human development and worked on many areas of human efficiency and its impact on the economic growth.Late Dr Mahboob UL Haq —Ex Finance Minister [ 1985-88] during General Zia era was the first [ Yale and Cambridge trained] economist who coined the term Human Development Index, widely used by World Bank to gauge countries efficiency and productivity levels. I really admire and respect his work for Pakistan.TechnologyTechnology plays an important part to spur economic growth for many countries. It has made a huge impact on the economy whereby transforming economies, improving living standards of people, empowering their economic destiny and most importantly enhancing trade among the nations. China is a good example of how it leads in Artificial Intelligence, 5G and EV Electric Vehicle.In one of my interviews for a Malaysian reserve newspaper dated October 6-2017, I shared that “whoever takes lead in artificial intelligence, will control the global economy”. (Modern mantra)The job market is changing at a breakneck speed that people will become irrelevant as technology is used for more tasks. As we navigate through these turbulent times, organisations are looking for people who have a skill set as per the market requirement to take the companies forward to the next level of profitability and improve market valuation strategically. The new source of power today is not money in the hands of a few, but information (market intelligence) in the hands of many. Empower people and watch the result. You empower people by enhancing the skill set and building their productivity in the long run. Moving forward, more and more jobs will be created in the area of intellectual capital and technology-driven industries.The expected disruptions provide challenges and opportunities presented by the new economic mega shifts in global markets and changing business models. With an advent of technology in an uncertain era, products and services are becoming obsolete overnight and competition from start-ups is challenging the traditional way of business with higher valuations. Capturing the mind share in order to build market share has become the new obsession for many organisations. Brand equity has taken centre stage in revenue-driven smart companies. More and more sagacious/ sophisticated investors are moving away from the traditional way of investing and going into smart beta for better returns in order to reduce volatility in unpredictable economic times. So, the question on everyone’s mind working in the financial market is how to stay relevant in these turbulent times? Building the skill set as per the market-based requirement is important for smart people in order to remain productive, relevant and efficient all the times,Last question, where do you see Pakistan in 3-5 years? Insha-Allah, an economically strong and financially powerful emerging economy in the global landscape. Hopefully, Pakistani passport will be acceptable to over a 100 countries in the years to come. I stay positive about Pakistan’s economic outlook.Pakistan Zindabad.The writer is a freelance columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.orgPublished in Daily Times, December 18th2018.