Engineer ASM Quasem, Chairman of Newage Group, shares his philosophy about life, golf and business.
Q: When did you get involved with golf?
A: It would be like 20 years ago that I came to golfing. I used to do yoga and walking more or less throughout my life. I even played some tennis in my younger days. I was a health freak all through and always did some workout to maintain my physical fitness. The same desire prompted me to start golfing.
Q: Who encouraged you in this regard?
A: I had friends who used to play golf. My friend Ashrafuddin Ahmed induced me to start golfing. I fondly remember my late friend, AB Bank’s former Managing Director, Rahim Chowdhury who fixed me up with my first trainer Ataur Rahman. In my turn, I also induced my two sons, Asif Ibrahim and Arif Ibrahim to play golf.
Q: Golf is called a life game. Do you see it like that too?
A: I am not a very serious golfer. I play mainly for fitness and socializing. But occasionally when I play well, it leaves a very good memory. I remember with awe the first time my ball landed within a foot of the hole in my second shot and I birdied. Whenever I am in vacant or in pensive mood, memories of such occasional good shots including the two hole-in-ones that I did in my golfing life flash before my inward eye, an enormous bliss in my solitude.
The youths must develop the capability to identify the right business idea suiting their education, training and background, develop a business plan and commence their own business. It could start in a very small scale. Financing has become a lot easier these days. So our youths need to change their thinking radically and try to become entrepreneurs themselves.
Q: You follow golf. What is your observation about Bangladesh golf?
A: When I started, Bangladesh golf was not in global picture at all. It was unthinkable in those days that someday, a player like Siddikur would emerge to put Bangladesh in the global golfing map. Given proper training and sponsorship, many of our golfers, especially amongst our boys in the golf course, can become professional players. Fortunately many sponsors are coming forward to encourage these boys. Competitions are also arranged by the club to develop their competitive mind and honing their skills. We, form our Newage Group, have sponsored such professional golfers’ annual competitions.
Q: There may be people who don’t come to golf because of age. What would be your suggestion to them?
A: This is an individual choice. There are people of my age who may have abandoned playing golf. Then again, there are many golfers older than me still playing regularly. I would think most people would like to continue if circumstances would permit them.
Q: What is your golfing routine?
A: We try to play five days a week and tee off before sunrise. At our age we only play nine holes. These days in summer we are teeing off around 5:15AM. During the game, we take a break of about five to ten minutes at Hole No. 6 for a cup of tea/coffee and use the time sharing jokes or debating on contemporary topics before resuming the game to finish the remaining four holes.
Q: Golf is a great platform for networking and business deals. Don’t you think so too?
A: I never saw golf as a platform to promote my business. I play golf for the pleasure of it and to keep myself fit and to cultivate my friendship.
Q: When did you start your business?
A: We started our garment manufacturing and export business in 1984. We export clothing to many countries of the world and do business with a couple of globally reputed brands. We started very small with an annual turnover of 200,000 dollars in 1984 that grew to a 100 million last year. In 33 years, our employment swelled from 150 employees to around 10,000. It was a long and sometimes arduous journey and we travelled a long way to reach our present level of maturity where we now enjoy the confidence of our customers with reputation and goodwill.
Q: What is your advice to young entrepreneurs?
A: Bangladesh is a country of great opportunities. We enjoy great demographic dividend with a large pool of young people willing to contribute to the national development. Our youths should train themselves to become entrepreneurs rather than looking for jobs. They should be the creator of employment rather than becoming employees themselves. We need a great number of entrepreneurs to build our nation economically. There are ample opportunities for starting small business in agriculture, fisheries, livestock breeding, small manufacturing and in service sectors. The youths must develop the capability to identify the right business idea suiting their education, training and background, develop a business plan and commence their own business. It could start in a very small scale. Financing has become a lot easier these days. So our youths need to change their thinking radically and try to become entrepreneurs themselves.
Q: What would be your suggestion to those who are doing business?
A: Whether it is golf or business or life in general, there is no alternative to pursuing ethical practices. That is the benchmark of civilization. If you don’t have ethics and honesty, you are not a human being. You have to share, have consideration for others. You have to make sure you are not progressing alone, you are pulling others along with you. Unfortunately there is a great dearth of these values in our society at the moment. We need to inculcate these values and ensure that these values are nurtured within our families and in our societies. Our families and our schools can play great roles in building these values in the children of our future generation.
Q: Golf is said to teach discipline and ethics.
A: Absolutely. The rules of the game teach us the value ethics. It allows us practicing discipline. It also teaches us to achieve a high level of concentration. When a good golfer takes a shot, he forgets everything around him.
Q: TheGolfHouse is stepping onto the third year. What is your advice for the publication?
A: Congratulations on stepping into third year of your publication.The first time I saw it, I think it was a year ago, I was very happy realizing that such a specialized publication of this high standard is coming out in Bangladesh. We need this kind of publication to promote golf and to project our local talents. Even those who don’t play golf or come to the club can learn a lot from this magazine.