Rubana Huq's determination to stick with her vision has made her a prominent figure among the community of corporate women who have established themselves as renowned entrepreneurs in the country. She is simultaneously Managing Director of Mohammadi Group, Head of MG Properties Limited, founder of the firm Vive Construction and Interiors and founder-editor of the literary magazine Monsoon Letters.
It is hard to believe that a single individual can carry out all these responsibilities simultaneously. But Rubana Huq has been doing all that adroitly, and with passion.
Besides her corporate identity, Rubana Huq is also a philanthropist and writer. She won the SAARC literary award in 2006 and was chosen as one of BBC's '100 women' in 2013. She is currently a PhD candidate at Jadavpur University, India, part of her ambition of being involved with academia.
The tale of her life will surely be of interest for people in every walk of life and not just for women. The Daily Observer's Farhana Naznin caught up with her at her Uttara office, where Rubana Huq candidly spoke of her vision, desire, experience and dream.
Daily Observer: Why did you choose business as your profession when women want to keep themselves away from difficult jobs?
Rubana Huq: I have never considered myself to be "just" a woman. Therefore challenges are not new to me and I have always gravitated towards situations which require me to perform with competition.
Daily Observer: You came to the garments sector, which is quite in a volatile situation in the perspective of Bangladesh. How do you handle an adverse situation when it arises?
Rubana Huq: RMG is not a volatile sector. It is a sector that promises the most rewards. Most of all, what is best about RMG is that no problem lasts for too long a time. We have to solve critical issues within a fixed period of time. Shipments are always time bound. So we cannot linger situations beyond a certain period of time.
Daily Observer: What's your vision as a renowned entrepreneur for Bangladesh?
Rubana Huq: I envision Bangladesh to be the most sustainable manufacturing hub for all industrial production. I dream of a Bangladesh which will produce garments which will carry "happy workers'" tag and "Made in Bangladesh with Pride" labels. I hope that every consumer who chooses, buys and wears our product will have the feeling of ethical satisfaction.
Daily Observer: In your opinion, how can women be self-dependent?
Rubana Huq: Women can be self-dependent even if they are at home. There are so many economic activities that are initiated by home makers. Domesticity and economics are interlinked. And women have so many opportunities to see beyond home. Starting from sewing at home, growing vegetables on rooftops, down to being engaged in a fully corporate environment are all women's world.
So basically a woman can always find activities to do which will free her from depending on others, only if she wants to.
Daily Observer: You have already achieved a lot. What's your next goal and how do you wish to contribute more for society and the country?
Rubana Huq: Achievement is a relative term and should always be weighed carefully. I have only done my job so far and have worked. What I plan to do, five years from now, is a vision that interests me.
I would like to set new standards of owner-worker engagement and take it to a wholly new level where Bangladeshi workers will be looked upon with respect. My goal is to recover from the severe image deficit that the country has suffered.
Daily Observer: Can you tell us about your childhood, please? Did you dream of being an entrepreneur in your childhood?
Rubana Huq: I come from a middle-class background. For me, life has been pretty simple. Childhood was filled with love. My parents doted on me. And I thrived on affection. I was luckily always drawn to academics and was a fairly decent student. I had stood 3rd in SSC, 1st in HSC in order of merit and almost never had to pay for my tuition as I had always won scholarships.
I dreamt of being a journalist when I was young and I also wanted to be an academic. I am extremely lucky that besides RMG and Real Estate business, I will now have a chance to be involved in a television channel which is being launched in March and if I am able to finish my PhD then I will certainly turn to academia.
So, in brief, whatever I aspired for when I was young, are all turning into reality now.
Daily Observer: Tell us about your school and college life. What did you like most in those days?
Rubana Huq: School was Viqarunnisa and college was Holy Cross. School days were happily filled with extra-curricular activities and sports while I dreaded art and sewing classes. I don't mind confessing that till date, I cannot sew and I have also never drawn a straight line. College was lovely as I was the College President and I did get to organize a lot of activities and I also had a chance to learn a lot of administrative skills. College was rewarding with many debating events. What I cherish mostly about my school and college days is that the friends that I made during that time have remained the same, till date,
Daily Observer: How is your life today? Is it very complicated? Or are you happy with the way things are?
Rubana Huq: My life is blissful, Alhamdulillah. I have everything that I could ask for. My children are wonderful. They are the best kids one could ever have. My colleagues at work are super cooperative and they keep me going. My husband Annis is a huge support and inspiration to my life, Whatever I achieve and want to attain always have to have his endorsement, without which I feel incomplete.
Daily Observer: How do you spend your leisure time?
Rubana Huq: I spend my leisure reading. Being with my youngest daughter, Tanisha. My interest in reading lies in philosophy and nonfiction mostly.
Daily Observer: Any suggestions for women?
Rubana Huq: 'They are not educated enough.' Then when I asked how much education they need, I heard: 'They are not motivated enough.' I find that very hard to believe, because women are the most loyal workforce. Within our own little worlds, we have so many hurdles to cross, and men are just so stubborn. There's a male stubbornness that refuses to let women pass through. We're always working against the current. And you just have to cross it. You can take your life where you want to take it, don't set any limits, never look back. You have to rise from the ashes. There's nothing that should stop you. As long as you're looking, opportunities will be there.