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Nauman Sikander- CEO FoodPanda Pakistan

Nauman Sikander- CEO FoodPanda Pakistan

His dream is to build great companies that provide an amazing experience to their customers, business partners and team. He has been a rebel ever since he can remember, challenging the status quo, wanting to change how things were done in organizations. Nauman wanted to build something in Pakistan, for Pakistan, to help his country get international recognition and portray a better image of the country.

His entrepreneurial journey started on 7th July, 2011 with an online food review platform called Food Connection Pakistan – from his father’s living room. In a year’s time it listed 3,000 vendors on that platform and reached 200,000 visitors per month. FC Pakistan was rebranded to EatOye, an online food delivery platform.

In 2015, EatOye merged with foodpanda. Since then, Nauman has been heading Foodpanda’s business in Pakistan, thereby becoming the head of one of the largest global e-commerce companies in the country.

Describe yourself in three words

– Resilient
– Visionary
– Passionate

What do you think has been the consistent factor which positioned you differently and led you to be where you are now?

Persisting against all odds and continuously adding value to everything I do, has motivated me to grow and learn in life.

Before Foodpanda, I founded the ventures Eatoye and Food Connection. Coming from a family of corporate professionals, my decision to become an entrepreneur came as a very surprising choice for the people around me.  

In 2011, at only 28, I had decided to venture into e-commerce – a fairly new concept in Pakistan. After my first business model failed, I decided to take another risk and launched Eatoye and raised capital to grow and sustain. It was a hard task to keep trying to make a mark in this fairly new industry, and against a big competitor. However, I didn’t lose hope.

I strongly believe that the key to surviving and flourishing is to keep hustling. I don’t look at  running a business as a part-time side gig. When I am in, I am all in.

Which person has influenced you most in life

I have taken inspiration from the lives of many influential and spiritual leaders. Firstly, the Prophet (PBUH) and his companions, Sadhguru Mystic, along with Imran Khan, Rumi and Shams Tabrizi. 

Reading about the way these people have led their lives and the way they have taken risks has helped me become the person I am today. 

How do you wind down when you’re not working

Being part of the tech industry, there is hardly any downtime and I am still trying to learn how to disconnect from work, when home. But here are a few things that help me wind down; spending quality time with my family and children is a great relaxer. I also like to engage in some sort of exercise, for which I have recently started yoga and meditation. It has greatly helped me with sorting out my thoughts and calming my nerves after a tiring day at work.  

Driving and listening to my choice of music also helps me rejuvenate when required.

What does being an effective boss means to you

Foodpanda is an organization that supports an open door culture, giving phenomenal power to every individual that is part of our team. I try to create avenues for my team where they perceive their work as not just a 9-5 job but like their own start-up where they can learn from their mistakes and grow as individuals and as professionals.  

However, even with all that empowerment, achieving the desired results hasn’t been easy all along. To ensure that the productivity levels were maintained, we have curated a more effective plan which involved giving the head of departments exact targets that I wished them to achieve – including weekly KPIs. Since then we’ve witnessed a huge shift in productivity levels, with each team meeting the goals set for them, within the given time frame.

To answer your question, an effective boss gives freedom to make decisions and also sets difficult yet achievable goals. Humility, compassion and empathy towards your team and organization makes employees productive and target oriented.  

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We have been witnessing some really unfortunate times since last year, what would be your advice on how to deal with a situation where people have lost jobs or suffered unforeseen issues suddenly

Change is the only constant. Our company was fortunate enough to not be affected by these times and instead grew when most businesses were in a difficult situation. Even if that wasn’t the case, we would have been ready to mould ourselves to the new normal. Inflexibility and not willing to adapt to the given circumstances can only lead to one’s failure, while accepting and trying to move forward can open up new doors and lead to more growth, as a person and as an organization. 

My advice for everyone is to use this time to work on new skill sets that are more relevant to the changing times. It is a great time to start your own venture and be open to accepting new roles and exploring new avenues. 

If you compare the times when you started to today, do you think things have changed for women considerably in the corporate sector

A simple answer would be, yes. Especially at Foodpanda we do not discriminate between genders and create opportunities for both. It’s wonderful to see the Pakistani corporate sector evolve and become more accepting of female leaders. It is the inclusion of females in the workforce which will help the economy and country develop further.  

Can you elaborate on the role Foodpanda has been playing in empowering Pakistani women

We believe in diversity. I learned the concept of diversity through our world, humans, animals, bacteria and everything combine to form an ecosystem with perfect harmony – take even one thing away and it will negatively affect the rest of the cycle of life. Using the same logic, having diverse stakeholders give birth to a more dynamic and creative culture. Hence, to form a harmonic ecosystem, we need everyone with talent and passion to play their role. 

With that being said, I’d like to give out some stats – 90% of our HR team, about 20-30% of our entire workforce and 50% of our home chefs are women, along with multiple female riders. We provide equal opportunities to everyone, without discriminating on gender.  

We believe in diversity and inclusivity. A diverse workforce always expands the horizon of the organization in terms of culture, ideas and perceptions. This enables the organization to expand their avenues, and its workforce to learn how to coexist in a space. To build a harmonic ecosystem, it is imperative that people from all walks of life and all genders work together, and Foodpanda provides that platform. 

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