You know those stories that you hear about a young corporate executive quit a dream 6-figure job to pursue his vision…well, this one’s no different. At just 30 years old, Aitezaz decided to walk away from an amazing gig and a dream lifestyle to pursue a much bigger challenge. His motivation? To apply his knowledge, create greater value and achieve excellence.
“I could not be more thankful for what I’ve been able to achieve especially when you put it into context. My journey took me from being a Market Analyst to leading the re-launch of Alfa Romeo in Australia whilst overseeing the entire Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Abarth and Fiat Professional product portfolio. Throughout this amazing journey, I’d built considerable personal and professional equity, bought a V8 sports car, life was good! But then something happened, I realized that I had a lot more to offer. So I decided to walk away from corporate life and use my knowledge and experience to help other businesses and entrepreneurs who often don’t have access to business strategy knowledge as is practiced in the corporate world.”
Business Strategy Coach
Aitezaz has a Masters of Commerce degree with a specialization in Marketing from the University of Melbourne and significant business strategy experience in the automotive industry. At Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Australia, Aitezaz oversaw product portfolios of iconic Italian marques, Fiat, Abarth, Fiat Professional and Alfa Romeo. He was instrumental in resurrecting the brands in Australia and reintroduced a revamped product range to the Australian market. Also, as part of a global skunkworks team, he was responsible for leading Alfa Romeo’s renaissance in Australia and oversaw all aspects of brand development.
This amazing experience has allowed Aitezaz to amass significant business strategy knowledge across all core business functions. In addition, Aitezaz has developed a proprietary brand development framework, The Atomic Model of Brand Management, which has been developed by modelling industry-leading brand management practices by some of the biggest brands in the world. He now provides business strategy coaching to businesses and helps implement this framework. For a full list of services, visit the Hire Me page.
“I have had the privilege of gaining significant business strategy experience and exposure with some of the most iconic Italian brands in the world. My proprietary brand development framework, The Atomic Model of Brand Management, has been developed by modelling industry-leading practices by some of the biggest brands in the world across multiple industries. The aim is to help businesses apply this model and maximize brand value.”
Aitezaz is a creative at heart. Design comes naturally to him and he possesses an innate ability to visualize, construct and deconstruct concepts. He actively studies design and believes that the ability to create is the purest form of self-expression.
“I was always very observant and I enjoyed being creative from an early age. But it was my love for cars that drew me towards studying design and that just blew my mind wide open. I actively started observing light and shadow, radii, surfaces, materials and proportion. Whether it was architecture, cars, watches or product design in general, I fell in love with this ability to fuse engineering with aesthetics and present a vision to the world. That to me was and still is the best form of value creation.”
The royal white falcon
Aitezaz chose the Shaheen as his symbol. This is his explanation of the philosophy behind this choice.
“If you traced the definition of the word “genius” all the way back to its origin, (and you don’t need access to the papal library for it, just google it!) you’ll realize that it meant: innate ability.
My belief is that all of us are born as geniuses. However, due to whatever divine design, some are dormant geniuses whereas others are active geniuses. Everyone has at least, one, exceptional innate ability. But the difference is that whereas active geniuses discover it very early on in their lives, dormant geniuses discover it when they come into contact with active geniuses.
So according to my theory, examples of active geniuses would be Aristotle, Muhammad Ali, Steve Jobs, Mozart etc. One such active genius who I’ve looked to for inspiration, amongst others, was the great philosopher, Allama Iqbal. In his works, he likens the ideal way of being, of thinking and of achieving excellence to the Shaheen, Persian for royal white falcon. It’s a philosophy that resonated strongly with me so I found it befitting to adopt a Shaheen (albeit, quite a stylized one) as my logo. This is how I have understood his reference and how I believe great leaders of our time reflect the same philosophy of excellence. It has helped me constantly enhance my potential and I hope it will resonate with you too.
Iqbal proposed that in order to achieve excellence you must aspire to sky-high ambition and not be deterred by the struggles along the way. They only serve to elevate us. Only sky-high ambition will give you the freedom to persevere, maximize your potential and achieve excellence. He likened this to the ability of the Shaheen to soar in high atmospheric winds, unperturbed by turbulence along the way. He urged the youth specifically, to access these high winds and exercise sharp vision, like a Shaheen, because once you see the world from an elevated vantage point, you realize a much greater purpose in life that focuses on creativity, not consumption.
Iqbal noted that a Shaheen is a maverick by nature because it enjoys living in isolation. He listed three qualities of effective leadership: High ambition, articulate speech and a passionate soul and urged the youth to be mavericks and embrace solitude as a necessary pre-requisite for excellence and free thinking.
Iqbal said that like the Shaheen, which is a nomadic bird, the youth should be global citizens who transcend boundaries on the basis of talent and contribute towards a global society over and above their personal goals.
Finally, he talked about the Shaheen’s perseverance. A Shaheen is known for carefully observing and focusing on its prey without distraction. In other words, Iqbal wanted to instill the idea that there was much greater benefit in creating value through adversity and perseverance than simply the easy pursuit of wealth.
His hypothesis concluded that the aforementioned traits made you realize that you weren’t made for this world but rather it was made for you to explore, to advance and to add value to.
My father is and always has been an evangelist for Iqbal’s teachings. Up to the point where I was still living with my parents, he would constantly urge me to study Iqbal. But let’s be fair, if you were to give a uni student living off his parents’ money, choice between studying philosophy and planning the following weekend’s all-night on-campus party, what do you expect?
It wasn’t until I’d moved to Melbourne in hot pursuit of my goal (against significant odds) that I turned to spirituality and philosophy for guidance. It was during this time that I studied Iqbal and understood what I believe is the fundamental meaning of existence, regardless of your aptitude or background. So, allow me to explain why I believe excellence is our sole purpose in life.
First of all, if you haven’t noticed it already, Iqbal’s narrative is very similar to the active geniuses of our time and you see them exhibit and preach these qualities again and again.
Steve Jobs’ Stanford 2005 Commencement Address is arguably one of the most watched speeches in recent years with in excess of 25 million views on Youtube. In it he famously concluded “Stay hungry, Stay foolish”. I believe that these four words encapsulate the same idea that Iqbal advocated. Steve Jobs had unbelievable ambition and immense foresight. If anyone deserves credit for democratizing free thinking, it’s Steve. Just have a look at the 1984 Apple Macintosh commercial. Also, he wasn’t in it for the money but instead wanted to empower people through personal computing. Finally, there’s been endless commentary on his struggles, both personal and professional. He achieved excellence in the face of adversity.
Ayrton Senna, the legendary Brazilian F1 driver was known for his obsession with excellence and achieving the limit. This one quote from him pretty much mirrors Iqbal’s rhetoric: “On a given day, a given circumstance, you think you have a limit. And you then go for this limit and you touch this limit, and you think, ‘Okay, this is the limit’. And so you touch this limit, something happens and you suddenly can go a little bit further. With your mind power, your determination, your instinct, and the experience as well, you can fly very high.”
Secondly, let’s approach this from a spiritual perspective. Now I am not religious by any stretch of the imagination (just ask my wife!) but I do believe in God and I find it intriguing that if you pare back God’s message to its very essence, it basically urges pursuit of excellence. And this I believe is true in most religions or belief systems. Allow me to explain.
First, we’re told that you will only get what you work hard for. Fair enough.
THEN, we’re told that you will only be burdened with what your capabilities allow. Wait a tick, so You want me to work hard because the harder I work, the greater the reward. But then the harder I work, the greater my capability, and hence, the greater my struggle?!
And finally, just to make things a bit more interesting, we’re told that we don’t know when our time’s up. Hang on! So You’re telling me that if I keep working hard, I will keep reaping rewards but it will be a constant up-hill climb and I don’t know if I’ll ever reach the summit or not!?
When I first realized this, I just looked to the heavens and said, well played my friend.
The message of course, is that only relentless pursuit of excellence will enable you to discover your summit.
So, this thinking is at the core of who I am as a person. I believe that we are all meant to maximize our potential at everything. Professional work, personal lives, fitness, health, you name it. It’s not easy and it requires immense discipline, perseverance, focus and self-belief. But so long as we do, we will achieve excellence and the more people that do, the more value we will create and the world will be better for it.
This is why I chose the Shaheen as my symbol. Also, royal white falcons are cool.”