A true patriot
Latifur Rahman, or "Shamim bhai" as we knew him, is no longer with us today. In his absence, the business community in Bangladesh will never be the same again. His guidance and cool temperament will be greatly missed.
It is obvious that such a personality would leave a legacy – a legacy of establishing a world class business, of endurance, and of doing the right thing. Besides being a successful businessperson, he was a man whom I grew to admire for the remarkable human being that he was – strong in his leadership, unwavering in his values, and above all, gracious, respectful, and inclusive of everyone.
Despite his vast contribution to the business community in Bangladesh, he was always an internationalist to the core. He started his business selling tea to European traders, became the sole importer and distributor of a Global FMCG, and drove the first Bangladeshi acquisition of a multinational company when he established Eskayef. He was deeply focused on establishing corporate governance, maintaining financial control, and empowering people to take decisions. His thought process was always ahead of his time.
I was fortunate to be present at the Taj Lands End in Mumbai when he became the first non-Indian to receive the "SAARC Outstanding Leader" award.
He had a profound sense of patriotism and a strong commitment to the country. He always believed in the growth story of Bangladesh and its immense economic potential. He was a realist in many sense, but an optimist when it came to Bangladesh. His exemplary business conduct has been a recipe for success for many successful business houses in Bangladesh.
The last time I spoke to him over the phone was on the day of the announcement of my appointment as the chief executive officer (CEO) of HSBC Bangladesh. He was genuinely delighted and wished me the very best for the future. To this day, I am grateful for the affection he showered me with over the years.
His nickname, Shamim, means "fragrance." And just like fragrance, he left a pleasant trail wherever he went.
Mahbub ur Rahman is CEO of HSBC Bangladesh.