Citibank Philippines is the Philippine branch of Citibank. In July 1902, International Banking Corp., a predecessor to Citibank, opened its first branch in Manila. Currently, it is the largest commercial bank in the Philippines. Its country officer, Mr. Aftab Ahmed, was our guest speaker for our CEO Series class.
A man of integrity, values, honor, wisdom and respect
That night, the class was expecting a high profile character from the corporate world. We all had our nameplates out, and were ready for questions and discussion during and after the talk. There was a little bit of excitement for a while until a tall, serious and sharp-looking person came in the classroom door. Along with his team, Aftab Ahmed went inside the case room.
Based on his appearance and demeanor, for me, Aftab looked like a true leader: a man of integrity, values, honor, wisdom and respect. As he came in wearing his suit, well dressed for the occasion, he greeted everyone with his low-toned but big voice. He sounded as if he belonged to the military, a high ranking officer.
My initial impressions were confirmed as he started sharing his life story, experiences, and insights on leadership.
Speaking with conviction and confidence
As Aftab was introduced to the class by my colleagues, they enumerated his career accomplishments up to the time when Aftab became Country Officer for Citibank Philippines. It turned out the introduction was almost complete, missing only some items which Aftab filled in when he started talking.
The case room became so quiet as if all lips were sealed and all ears were submitted to Aftab’s lecture. Backed with extensive experience in all facets of business, he spoke with conviction and confidence. These two traits are a sign of what a leader is and how he takes on responsibilities in running the entire company and its employees.
Exhibiting faith in your leader
One thing that most of us easily remember was his story when there was a military uprising and they and their families were provided with flights to exit the country to safety. Aftab opted to stay but ensured his staff and family left to seek safety. By doing so, a number of Aftab’s loyal employees stayed as well to support operations.
This for me is another indication of a true leader. When a person decides or submits to a pure cause without any deceit or personal interest, and other follow without force or even an invite, then these people see a leader of which they can have faith in. They must have faith, otherwise, they would not be risking their very lives just to follow Aftab back to the office.
Being branded as a true leader
It suddenly hit my mind, that leadership comes from the people, one does not appoint oneself to be a leader. A leader must have the following qualities before he is branded as a true leader. These traits for me are integrity, respect, trust, values, knowledge and human relations.
Someday, we will be applying these traits as we go through the process of being the CEO of our own companies.
The author is an MBA student at the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business. This essay is part of a journal he keeps in fulfillment of the requirements of the course, Trends and issues in Business and Management: CEO Series. Visit his blog at https://learnceo.wordpress.com/.
The views expressed here are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administrators.