10 candid career questions with PPP professionals – Aijaz Ahmad

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Editor's Note: 
Welcome to the “10 Candid Career Questions” series, introducing you to the PPP professionals who do the deals, analyze the data, and strategize on the next big thing. Each of them followed a different path into PPP practice, and this series offers an inside look at their backgrounds, motivations, and choices. Each blogger receives the same 15 questions and answers 10 or more that tell their PPP career story candidly and without jargon. We believe you’ll be as surprised and inspired as we were.  

1.    What was your first job? 
My first job was working as a journalist in Pakistan for a liberal “left leaning” newspaper at a time when Pakistan was being ruled by a religious conservative dictator.

2.     What was your best job?
My best job was being part of a management team that launched Pakistan’s first private sector airline to compete with the national flag carrier.

3.     What do your family members think you do all day at work?
My family members think I spend all day at work playing Words with Friends on my cell phone.

4.     What do you really do all day at work?
I really spend all day at work playing Words with Friends AND assisting internal and external clients in moving their PPP agenda forward using various lending and non-lending World Bank products, while leading and participating in task teams.

5.     What do you wish you did all day at work?
I wish I spent all day at work providing hands-on technical assistance to clients and helping them find solutions that are customized to their needs.

6.     If some days at the office you feel like Sisyphus, and other days you feel like Midas, what character from literature or history do you identify with the rest of the time?
Most of the time I feel like Midas working like Sisyphus.

7.     Before you entered this field, what did you think “PPP” stood for?
I thought "PPP" stood for Pakistan People’s Party.

8.     What is your go-to industry website?
My go-to industry website is Project Finance International (pfie.com)

9.     What did the book that made the biggest impact on you professionally teach you?
The book that has made the biggest impact on me professionally taught me that successful people do things that unsuccessful people don’t (sounds simplistic, until you think about it a bit); also that technical skills are not sufficient to move up the corporate ladder – you also need strong communication and managerial skills; and that developing your EQ is as important as your IQ.

10. When you give advice to young professionals, what are you shocked to hear yourself say?
When I give advice to young professionals, I’m shocked to hear myself say that in real life sometimes perceptions are more important than reality – manage them properly.

11. What is the most rewarding thing you’ve experienced in the course of PPP practice?
The most rewarding thing I’ve ever experienced in the course of PPP practice is witnessing the Albert Luthuli Hospital and the Gautrain projects in South Africa become operational and directly benefitting the lives of hundreds of people – and knowing that you had the honor of playing a very tiny role in making it happen.

12. What is the most surprising thing you’ve experienced in the course of PPP practice?
The most surprising thing I’ve ever experienced in the course of PPP practice is that most of the issues that client countries think are unique to them, are in fact very common across the board.

13. In what areas do you refuse to compromise professionally?
I’ve learned never to compromise professionally on doing what is best for the client country and its people and standing up for what is right – even when it is not popular.

14. In what ways do you think the PPP area will look different in 10 years?
I think the PPP area I work in will look different in 10 years because most processes, documents, tools etc. will be standardized across the globe.

Read  posts by Aijaz at the PPP blog.
Read previous posts of “10 Candid Career Questions”.
To contribute your PPP career story, email 


Aijaz Ahmad

Lead Specialist & Acting Practice Manager, Public-Private Partnerships Group, World Bank

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