Last month, we conversed with Taimur Rahman, Chief Corporate & Regulatory Affairs Officer at Banglalink about his journey from being an engineer to becoming the corporate affairs chief of one of the largest telcos of Bangladesh. Here's the gist of the conversation we had:
Starting with, what's corporate & regulatory affairs?
Well, any business operating in any country needs to abide by the rules and regulations of that country. So basically, our job is to make sure that our business is in compliance with those regulations. That's our primary job. On top of that, we try to foresee what new regulations are coming in and find out what policies needs to be revised. Sometimes we assist & coordinate with regulatory bodies if any new policies/ regulations need to be added. We also deal with all our stakeholders and external media on behalf of the organisation.
You started your career as an engineer. How did you move from engineering to the world of corporate affairs?
Yes, I was an engineer. Later I got my business degree from IBA. After graduating as an engineer, I started my career in sales. From there, I moved to sales strategy and then to strategy. Then I finally landed in corporate affairs. Actually, during working in strategy, a good part of my work involved working with the government. From there, I got the taste of corporate affairs and slowly I shifted there altogether. Corporate affairs involve a diverse set of tasks and it was really challenging; you need to know a bit of everything starting from regulations to technology to market and sales. It tough but then again it's very rewarding.
Who should pursue a career in corporate affairs?
There's a common misconception that you need to be a lawyer or a specialist in compliance. While that isn't necessarily true, you do need to have a good understanding of a bunch of things. I have colleagues who are lawyers and takes care of the legal portion for us. Similarly, you don't even need an engineering degree either. Instead of degrees, what we look for people here are the soft skills. You need to be patient but pushy, polite but firm, smart but humble. Those that are good at managing and maintaining relationships, those who are good at negotiating, those who have the technical skill sets can certainly do good in corporate affairs. In a way, you would be acting like diplomats.
What are the scopes of working for corporate affairs professionals in Banglalink?
The Corporate and Regulatory Affairs division in Banglalink is actually split into various departments. They are the Regulatory Affairs Department, Stakeholder Relations Department, Public Policy Department, Regulatory Compliance Department, Corporate Communications Department and Corporate Responsibility Department.
Our job is to ensure that the company runs smoothly, abiding by all the regulations prevailing in the country and advocating for implementation of policies by the government which will ensure predictability in regards to regulations.
What are the perks of working here?
The perks are sky high. You get to build a relationship with the external stakeholders, the government, the internal stakeholders. The most important people involved in your life or business will know you and you will get to know them. That will enrich your network. Inside the organisation, you will know all the figureheads and most people in almost all the departments will know you. That's a valuable asset. If you are working in corporate affairs of a highly regulated industry like telecom or pharmacy or bank, you get to work on a policy level and you can be part of something really big. The compensation packages are very generous too. Since it's a niche market and people with quality skill sets are few in number, there is always some demand in the corporate affairs job market.
What are the risks?
Every job comes with an inherent risk and corporate affairs is no different. There isn't any added pressure or risk or anything. We have to be very consistent all the time. All our stakeholders need to be aligned at all times, which requires us to be alert and proactive. Hence we hold frequent meetings to avoid any mishaps. But if you are consistent with your message and make sure you have all your bases covered, then you are good.
What the three most valuable lessons you have learned in your entire career?
I think the most valuable lessons that I learned is being transparent. No matter what mistake you made, make sure you come clean with your supervisor or team. There's no shame in admitting a mistake. Instead, that's actually appreciated by managers. Secondly, you need to keep on learning. In our industry, everything changes very fast. In order to cope you need to constantly gain knowledge. Lastly, always maintain the highest ethical standard. Even it impacts your business. Never compromise with this.