Working diligently across a number of fields including a phenomenal career as a renowned marketer and a celebrated lyricist while making the time to write short pieces as well, Aftab Mahmud gives us a glimpse of what it is like to be an all-rounder but more importantly his focus on striking a balance, where most of us go wrong.
Aftab Mahmud Khurshid started his career in ACI back in 1994 as the first product officer of the ACI consumer brands looking after a wide range of brands. He was a fresh graduate of Dhaka University from finance and baking department and had little idea about marketing and even less about the fact that marketing would become such an integral part of his career. After three years of working with brand management he made up his mind to make a career out of it, hence he pursued his masters involving the subject he had fallen in love with. “I feel like business and marketing are intricately and intimately related. It is important to understand how small things can have a large impact and then you would have to know how to use it to your advantage,” says Aftab Mahmud.
He learned a lot from his first job and then went on to use his knowledge combined with a continuous curiosity of learning to leave a mark in some of the most prominent local and multinational companies. His multi-faceted portfolio includes having played a significant role in marketing in the entertainment sector, FMCG sector, health sector, financial sector and even the electronic sector.
Currently working in Apollo Hospital Bangladesh looking after the area of Business Marketing, Aftab Mahmud Khurshid was the Chief Marketing Strategist for branding Radio Today and he also worked with ACI aerosol which is now a super brand awarded brand. He worked for Johnson and Johnson baby care range and was in Siemens which is a German Electronics Giant. He also worked with Standard Chartered Bank and instrumental in the rebranding process of City Bank later actively involved in the planning phase as brand champion of launching American Express in Bangladesh. He did the full revamp of the local company called Superstar group and as a result SSG came into being. Besides, he dealt with many more local brands and international brands.
“Each brand taught me a unique lesson which combined together with my already acquired knowledge and immensely helps me in my business decisions till date,” Aftab says. He believes that “the definition of success is different among people. For some the parameter is money, while some seek respect and others are happy simply by learning new things every day. I find happiness in a striking balance between all.”
Our man of marketing advocates that the huge amount of experience that he has gathered can only be of full use when it is passed down to others and to do his part he enjoys teaching through videos and has appeared as guest faculty at numerous well known private universities. Aftab Mahmud pegs his hope on a simple tenet: “Every brand has a story of its own, how you internalize it and tell it to others is what really makes the difference!
Aftab Mahmud began writing from as early as 1989, and has continued since to the delight of his growing number of admirers. Writing lyric to touch the hearts of millions is his vocation. Take for example his ever-popular piece ‘Firiye Dao’ by Miles. If there are people who might admit to have never heard of this song, their numbers would be negligible.
“I think just yesterday one of my friends called me up to say that his mother is listening to my song. It is incredible that this song is popular even today and its appeal cuts across generations.” The first song Aftab wrote was for Octave, but they didn’t take it. Later it was sung later by Miles and is recognized as “Shapno bhango.” He also wrote many other songs for Octave including ‘Tumi chole gechho’. Meanwhile, he has also written songs such as ‘Asha’ and ‘Dhupchaya’ for the modern music band Warfaze. His pen name is Mahmud Khurshid.
He admits that he only writes songs when someone requests him to do so. With so much to do, he only puts in effort when he sees that it is going somewhere, adding with a smile that he wishes that he knew this when he was younger.
“I probably wouldn’t have had the guts to say this before when I was young but now I can confidently say that multitasking can be effective if carried out in the right way. You have to strike the balance between the right degree of effort, passion and persistence,” believes Aftab Mahmud.
Having massively and passionately contributed to a divergent fields, the marketing expert-song writer explains, “It is not easy, you don’t only need to constantly think creatively but also find the right people to communicate your creative outputs with.”
He champions the idea of looking at any problem at hand from multiple perspectives. He says that that if someone has the will to relentlessly pursue what he or she wants to do and is prepared to block out the need to please everyone, it becomes doable.
“It is very tough, but it is possible. You may come off as weird or crazy to many people but many brilliant people were regarded as weird during their times,” he adds and further elaborates, “Do not waste your time by bothering with what other people are thinking about you.” Aftab Mahmud’s advice to young people is as follows: Keep doing your work to add dimensions to your passion and focus on being empathetic – because at the end of the day being humane is what really counts. He concludes by saying that as short as life is, it is not too short to do everything that you love. All you need is the will – will to persist during hard times and will to make peace with the setbacks. ‘Have patience, Get up, Set up, Stand up and Keep going’, such is life as he said.