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04 Lessons from Fahmida Khatun of CPD On Building The Right Culture, Value Of Good Ideas, Success, and Failure

Dr. Fahmida Khatun is a prominent Economist in Bangladesh and the Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), a leading think tank in South Asia. Prior to CPD, she started her early career as a researcher at the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies, worked for UNDP as an Environment Specialist and later worked at USAID Mission in Bangladesh as an Economist.

In an interview with Future Startup, published a few months ago, she shared some of the lessons she has learned from her journey so far. You may read the entire interview here.

From Fahmida Khatun:

01. Invest in building the right culture

We have a strong culture of mutual respect and bonding within the organization. It is a mixture of formal and informal culture. While we maintain high professionalism in case of implementing office rules and show zero tolerance in case of deviation from those, we also reach out to our people and provide opportunities to work as a team. We spend a substantial amount of our time at the office. So a sense of belongingness to each other as professionals and empathy towards co-workers are so important. They have to feel at home. They have to feel comfortable. They have to be satisfied professionally. We give utmost importance to a mutually respectful working environment.

The other important component of our culture is continuous learning. We provide ample capacity building and learning opportunities to our people at home and abroad. We also learn from each other, irrespective of positions.

02. There is and will always be a demand for good ideas, simply do your job well

We develop our program proposals based on our interests and expertise, and relevance to the country. Then we present it to the potential supporters. It is more of a demand-driven rather than the supply-driven model. Thankfully, this model has worked well for us so far. We believe that if you have good and innovative ideas, and if you have a proven track record of implementing your programs efficiently and with integrity, there is no shortage of funds.

03. The secret to success is easy: work hard

There is no alternative to hard work. Nothing comes easy, and it is true for everyone. Talent is important, but one also has to know how to utilize it. You have to be willing to put your best effort to make your talent work for you. If you are persistent in achieving something and stay the course, you will get there.

04. Accept the failure gracefully and move on

One should not be obsessed with success all the time. Failure is part of life. We should embrace it gracefully. It teaches us how to take the next step.

Ayrin Saleha Ria works at Future Startup as a full-time Research Associate. She has a background in Applied Sociology. Before joining the FS team, she worked and volunteered with a number of social organizations. As someone who comes from a social science background, she takes a deep interest in research around important social-economic challenges in our society. A voracious reader, Ayrin is passionate about working for the betterment of society, takes a deep interest in human society and behavioral science, and loves books.

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