Mr. Sheikh Altaf belongs to one of the vintage batches of IIPM during the early 80’s and like most of the people from that era, his career is an apt example of sheer hard work and utmost dedication to whatever cause he is attached to. He has wide experience in various fields and holds an LLB degree as well. Mr. Altaf over the years has seen the whole evolution of the BFSI sector and thus holds indepth knowledge and information about the same. A humble and caring individual, Mr. Altaf was inspired towards taking up social services during his IIPM tenure through ACM GIDF initiatives of Dr. MK Chaudhuri. His career span is closing in on about three decades now, and during this, he has served some of the most prominent Financial institutes like the UTI amongst a host opf others. Coming from a virtuous and noble background, he has not forgotten the simple values and is continually serving the underprivileged sections of the society. His belief system and ideologies can be defined through the words of acclaimed Irish writer - CS Lewis, who once said, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”
Q. Starting from schooling please take us through you educational and professional journey ?
A. I was born and brought up in the state of Odisha. I completed middle school from a school in a village nearby in 1968, high school certificate in 1972, Bachelor of Arts in Economics Honours with distinction in 1976 and Bachelor of Law in 1981 from steel town Rourkela. At the age of 23 I started my profession as a practicing Advocate in civil and taxation laws. I was always interested in studying management but those days no Institution or University in Odisha offered a study in management. I considered a lot of colleges including IIPM for admission and appeared in many written tests, group discussions and interviews. During my admission test at IIPM, I observed that it was only here that the Head of Institute, Dr. MK Chaudhri was personally interacting and conducting the test activities. This impressed me a lot and inspite of admission offers from many other colleges, I took admission at IIPM.
Q.Please tell us something about your times at IIPM.
A. I took an admission in two year full time post graduate programme in management at IIPM. I was in the batch 1983- 1985. It was two years of learning not just management but management values. Those days the campus was at Gurgaon – Khandsa Village. I was a huge and lush campus. I recollect our professors who were best in class teachers besides being authors of repute. I remember Prof. MC Shukla who taught us company laws, Prof. Ghosh – business organisation, Prof. PK Jain – financial management, Prof. Bagga – computer and QT, Prof. JK Mitra – organisational behaviour, Prof. Adhikari – business economics and many more. I remember the dedicated services of Prof. P Sengupta, assistant dean of administration to the institute and his teaching of the subject linear programming and decision making.
I vividly remember the fun we had at college canteen. It was run by a local person from Haryana and I remember the foods were of North Indian taste. Reaching campus was absolute fun and we would get institute buses from New Delhi, which were very punctual in transporting us for classes. We would have fests and functions at institute regularly. They were very cheering and colourful and we would always enjoy a lot.
Q. How did education at IIPM transform you?
A. Frankly speaking, after my basic educational degrees in Economics and Law, I have learned from IIPM the values of implementing my learning and managing risk in my challenging profession. I have completed 27 years of professional career by providing financial services to clients on various investment areas in postal savings, Unit Trust of India, mutual funds, life andgeneral insurance and stock market. Initially for two years I served in a merchant banker organisation in New Delhi and for nest 18 years I was self-employed as an investment advisor and stock exchange broker in Bhubaneswar. During broking in stock exchange I have observed stock scams, birth of SEBI, dematerialisation of physical share certificates, shouting trading changing to computerised on line screen trading. I have faced a lot of challenges during my broking career in stock exchange. Learning from IIPM has always encouraged me and I was always able to face the challenges. In month end I am visiting my village (85 km from Bhubaneswar) and will be trying to help economically unfortunate villagers financially by money donated by friends, relatives, business persons etc. It is a value we picked up at IIPM.
FRANKLY SPEAKING, AFTER MY BASIC EDUCATIONAL DEGREES IN ECONOMICS AND LAW, I HAVE LEARNED FROM IIPM THE VALUES OF IMPLEMENTING MY LEARNING AND MANAGING RISK IN MY CHALLENGING PROFESSION
I BELIEVE IN GOOD EDUCATION. EDUCATION, ESPECIALLY IN MANAGEMENT SHOULD BREAK THE AGE OLD TRADITION OF GENERAL COLLEGE TEACHING. TO LEAD IN ANY FIELD OF ACTIVITY, PRACTICAL VALUES WEIGH MAXIMUM.
Q. Tell us something about your current role at System Securities and Consultancy Pvt. Ltd.
A. I joined System Securities & Consultancy Pvt. Ltd (now name changed to Yazdani Financial Corporation Pvt. Ltd) in 2005 as Chief Operating Officer. I manage day to day share market trading operations of my clients through National Stock Exchange of India.
Q. How would you define the institution of Finance in Indian context?
A. In any country including India almost everyone has to deal with one or more financial institution like banks, trust and insurance companies , investment dealers etc. on a regular basis. People do financial transactions ranging from depositing money in banks , getting loans, exchanging currencies to investing in shares, insurance policies etc. Research reveals that inspite of a vast financial institution network only 30% Indians have a savings account in banks, 10% are investing in shares through stock exchange trading and only 15% buy insurance policy. People are interested to have financial services but it seems that institution of finance have not yet completely reached common Indians particularly potential investors in rural areas.
Q. Please enlighten us with your views on common equity and debentures in India.
A. Very soon India will celebrating 66 years of its independence but the fact remains that still not more than 10% Indians know about equity shares, stock market, etc. and a lot of people view shares buying as gamble play. Spread of awareness in this regard is must. Our company act also needs amendment very urgently for protecting general investors. General investors are showing very less interest in investing in debentures than equity as they want to avoid inviting any unnecessary risk.
Q. What are your views on leadership and what advice would you give to young Indians to be effective leaders?
A. I believe in good education. Education, especially in management should break the age old tradition of general college teaching. To lead in any field of activity, practical values weigh maximum. To me a business leader needs 20% theoritical and 80% practical knowledge. Management colleges should teach young students, our potential business leaders by providing more on field practical training on each and every subject. It is only then that our young Indians will be honoured as effective leaders.
Q. Tell us about your family. How do you balance your personal and professional life?
A. I have happily completed 29 years of married life. I have four children, two sons and two daughters. My elder daughter and two sons are in jobs after having completed their respective masters degree and my younger daughter is doing graduation. Frankly speaking my profession is very challenging. It is my family’s co-operation and continuous support that has kept me encouraging and helps me to maintain a proper balance in work and personal life.
DTTB Team wishes that Mr. Altaf realises all of his dreams in life and about the society because men like him a rarity in these days of unscrupulous consumption patterns and lifestyle. We hope that his story serves as an inspiration for the new generation.