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South Asia

Pakistan: Bank of Punjab makes a national splash

Zafar Masud survived a plane crash a month after he took over as Bank of Punjab’s chief executive. The experience pushed him to double down on his beliefs – and take this regional Pakistani bank to the next level.

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Zafar Masud, chief executive of Bank of Punjab

Zafar Masud is a survivor: one of just two people who survived when a Pakistan International Airlines flight from Lahore to Karachi crashed in May 2020. The other 97 people on board were killed. Masud’s seat fell outside the aircraft on impact and he was rescued by locals. He fractured his hip and collar bones and had to have multiple operations.

Just one month earlier, Masud had started a new job as chief executive of Bank of Punjab, a Pakistani commercial bank in which the government of the province of Punjab has a majority stake. His near-death experience strengthened his belief in the importance of people and empathy.

“In anything and everything, it’s all about people,” he says. “My entire philosophy of management has been around people. It's for people, for the welfare of people and their benefit – whether those are our communities, or customers or employees. This is always about people.”

Empathy, he says, is what makes the difference “between boys and men”.

“Empathy