Muhammad Anwar Ul Haq is being recognized both locally and internationally for his contribution to Pakistan’s energy sector. Most recently, he received the inaugural Young Development Leader Award from the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms for his performance in the field of energy, which is critical to the realization of the Vision 2025 goals – a road map detailing Pakistan’s socio-economic development strategy. Earlier this year, he was also selected to the World Energy Council’s prestigious Future Energy Leaders program. Anwar graduated with a Master’s in Engineering Management from Duke University on a Fulbright scholarship. He is a partner and head of renewables practice at Aequitas, a financial advisory and energy project development firm in Pakistan. With this kind of success, it’s no wonder we want to learn more about his Fulbright journey. Here’s what he had to say.
How would you describe your experience in the U.S.?
My experience in the U.S. was nothing short of phenomenal. Prior to landing, I had always been fascinated by the amazingly diverse nature of this country but being in the middle of it all was overwhelming to say the least. My experience in the U.S. showed me why despite all its flaws, the US continues to lead the world because it allows open and unhindered discourse internally and the people employ a can-do attitude towards any problem they confront. On completing my studies at Duke, one of my professors asked me what I would miss the most about the US. My answer was quick and succinct: the freedom of expression. Living and studying at one of the best schools in the world, interacting with (and befriending) some of the smartest minds in my peer group and being able to do all of this in a small town in the heart of North Carolina describes the eclectic nature of the experience.
Living and studying at one of the best schools in the world, interacting with (and befriending) some of the smartest minds in my peer group and being able to do all of this in a small town in the heart of North Carolina describes the eclectic nature of the experience.
What does the Fulbright grant represent to you?
To me, the Fulbright grant represents the celebration of diversity of the human race, where people with diverse (and in some cases poles asunder) belief systems converge and walk away with life-long friendships. In my opinion (and I know this might sound a bit over the top), the Fulbright program has been a bigger influence on the global canvas compared to say the Marshall Plan. Where the Marshall Plan sought to rebuild war-torn regions of the world, the Fulbright Program (perhaps inadvertently) works to ensure that such tragedies do not happen again.
Where are you now and how has your scholarship contributed to your present success?
I currently work at a financial/ project advisory firm called Aequitas Pvt. Ltd. where I head the renewable energy portfolio. Along with my host university in the U.S., the Fulbright scholarship has allowed me to tap into a knowledge base and professional network which has been instrumental in my success. I have been in the energy sector ever since I finished my undergrad, but my program at Duke allowed me to understand the bigger picture (and cure me of engineer’s myopia – a term I coined btw!). With my background in engineering and successfully completing an interdisciplinary program at Duke University (made possible by Fulbright), I feel I have a very unique skill set (unique not only in Pakistan but globally) which has allowed me to perform and become the professional I am today.
With my background in engineering and successfully completing an interdisciplinary program at Duke University (made possible by Fulbright), I feel I have a very unique skill set, which has allowed me to perform and become the professional I am today.
How do you think your contribution to Pakistan’s energy sector is contributing to the country’s socio-economic development?
Since returning to Pakistan, I’ve been instrumental in the deployment of landmark projects in the energy sector including Pakistan’s first solar power project. My technical background, coupled with business/ legal skills and knowledge gained in the U.S. has allowed me to successfully re-draft and negotiate Pakistan’s first Solar Energy Purchase Agreement in 2015 (which stakeholders had been working on since 2011). Projects executed and currently under my purview represent investment of over USD 4 billion in Pakistan. And just the quantum of that investment is bound to yield direct and indirect socio-economic dividends. Besides directly providing employment in Pakistan, these projects are there to bridge Pakistan’s energy gap, which is estimated to cause a loss of 2 to 3% of GDP every year.
What motivates you?
The knowledge that all or most of the work that I do every day, has a direct impact on the overall energy scenario in Pakistan. That alone is a humbling yet motivating aspect of my line of work.
Finally, do you have a favorite Fulbright memory?
One of my favorite memories is the Enrichment Seminar that I attended in Sacramento, California where Fulbrighters from over two dozen countries were represented.
**Please note: While the current application cycle for the Fulbright Degree program is closed, this should not discourage you from visiting the USEFP website for details on next year’s competition which opens in February 2017. Learn more about the Master’s and PhD program our website: www.usefpakistan.org.