One of COLABS’ oldest employees, Shahrukh Hamid, the Community & Sales Manager, lights up any room he walks into. Having joined the organization in 2020 by chance, today he heads a crew of 45.
With a background in art and design from Beaconhouse National University (BNU) in Lahore, Shahrukh laughs when he recalls the early days of his foray into the big, cut-throat world of sales.
“I used to help my friends make sales calls at COLABS,” he reveals, “A few weeks in, both of them got sick, one after the other. That’s when Omar Shah asked me to take over for a while.”
With COLABS’ newly launched Johar Town site up and running in 2020 – offices needed to be sold quickly – but Shahrukh was unfazed by the empty building. In fact, he found the prospect of roping in new clients both challenging and exciting. Within his first month alone, Shahrukh sold one of the largest offices in the building. It was a big win. He was finally in his element. And the rest, as they say, was history.
“It just happens, it’s a very intuitive process,” he states, speaking about his experience in sales. “I like interacting with people, I think that’s one aspect that I enjoy most about this field. I get to read people and figure out what they want. Also, it’s very satisfying when you know you’ve left an impact on your client.”
Inquisitive by nature, people fascinate Shahrukh. So much so that his parents once mentioned that he should take a stab at a career in journalism. Even the idea of becoming a psychologist appeals to Shahrukh. But much before studying art and design, the 26-year-old had his heart set on becoming an oncologist.
“I wanted to be an oncologist in the US, sipping a cup of green tea on the side of the road in The Hamptons,” Shahrukh chuckles heartily. “But when that couldn’t happen, I decided I was never going to plan so far ahead. I was 18-years-old when I realized it’s better to just take life as it comes instead of visualizing all these grand plans for yourself.”
Even though he may come across as a bit stoic on the surface, Shahrukh is a softie inside. He feels everything. And a majority of times, it’s hard for him to hide it. “I get very involved with my team – having 45 people directly reporting to me is not an easy task. It’s difficult yet very satisfying.” Apart from leading one of the biggest teams at COLABS, how does Shahrukh handle difficult clients?
“You really need to control your emotions,” he says matter-of-factly, “I used to be very emotional and aggressive, but I think I’m better at channeling those emotions now. But it’s different when someone is saying something against one of my teammates. I’d probably hit back harder because my team looks up to me. I can give my life for my team because they’re such good people. If I’m having a bad day, they just know…they’ll bring me a cup of tea (they know I love tea), bring me butterscotch biscuits or just talk to me. That respect and honour is overwhelming, so I feel I need to deliver twice as much. I get a lot of emotional fulfillment from work.”
The youngest of two siblings (an older brother and a sister), Shahrukh began working in a call centre when he was only 17. This is because his career-driven parents taught him and his siblings to be independent from an early age.
“I didn’t have the need to work, but I wanted to. I saw my mother and father work throughout their lives. I think that inspired me and also the fact that we were always told to keep ourselves busy.” But the thought of staying lodged in his comfort zone terrifies Shahrukh.
“Working in sales hasn’t been my comfort zone, I think that’s why I’ve stuck it out this long. If I look back at how I started out in 2020, it was a different environment and a completely empty building. I mean I joined when COVID was at its peak! From a ghost building to a hustling and bustling building…it’s been so interesting experiencing both aspects of COLABS then, to what it is today.”
With a deep-rooted interest in films and literature – particularly horrors and thrillers – Shahrukh recently read Namal by Nimra Ahmed, a Pakistani author, which he thought was absolutely brilliant.
“When you’re in a tough situation: detach, go away for a while. Think it over. Come back with more rational thinking. Think of yourself as nothing,” he states before proceeding, “Because when you’re nothing, you can build yourself back up. In fact that was my thesis topic in college – the dot, the nukta. See, you’re a dot in this world, and everything revolves around that very dot. You can keep transcending back into that nukta to make something new out of absolute nothingness! Death and rebirth. It’s an ongoing cycle. You’re born, you die, go into a hole and come out as a leaf or a tree! Even after your death you have a certain impact on the world. You’re never really gone.”