Boast Magazine had the privilege to interview Mr. Sadruddin Hashwani.
Where were you born?
I was born in Karachi, Pakistan, in 1940; my ancestors had migrated from Iran to Lasbela, Baluchistan, in 1840. I have spent a major part of my life, including childhood, in an area called Lassi at Lea Market, Karachi. My parents wanted me to be a doctor, but studies never interested me. I was a keen sportsman in college days; I used to play cricket seven days a week, hence failed to do well in academics and was expelled from the college.
Tell us about your overall business career journey, and how you got to this point?
I was very ambitious and a dream viewer since my childhood. I have read no book about Business; it was in my DNA. A college dropout, in 1958, I started my career as a tiny businessman, a transportation contractor, and travelled the entirety of Baluchistan on the back of a truck, often in temperatures below zero.
In 1965, I shifted to cotton trading and established a trading company “Hassan Ali and Company” alongside my older brother. We started with a small order of 2900 bales. The cotton giants used to joke about us and reacted to newcomers like us with disgust. But in three years, business flourished, and we were the number one exporter in cotton. In the same decade, we were acknowledged as the “Cotton Kings” and our company, besides being the leading exporters of rice, barley, wheat, pulses, and other commodities, had become the largest cotton trading company in Pakistan.
In the aftermath of Bhutto’s nationalization drive in 1973, I diverted my resources towards other business like the hotel industry, real estate, trading, property development and industrial ventures. In 1973, I ventured into the five-star hotel business and launched Holiday Inn Hotel in Islamabad in 1978, Holiday Inn Karachi followed in 1981. I converted both hotels into the Marriott brand in the 1990s.
In 1985, I bought the majority shares in Pakistan Services Limited, which then owned four five-star Inter-Continental Hotels and was the largest five-star hotel chain across Pakistan, I rebranded them as Pearl-Continental Hotels.
It has been a rocky road to the top. I used to work 18 hours a day and 362 days a year; I have worked vigorously hard all my life. I was extremely consistent in my routine, work never bored me. From rags to riches, I have fought petty bureaucrats, megalomaniacal presidents, suffered near-death experiences, and lived for six years in exile. I was put on the ECL (Exit Control List) 11 times by different governments. To borrow the words of that famed Frank Sinatra song, “I did it my way”.
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