From Chevening Scholar to Director General: how Hammad Naqi Khan climbed the ranks of WWF-Pakistan

After joining WWF-Pakistan in 1997 as a Senior Environmental Officer, Chevener Hammad Naqi Khan climbed its career ladder to become Director General. We find out how he got to the top.

In the early 1990s, Hammad felt like a misfit at his current job. He had graduated from university just a few years earlier, and he was working for the Irrigation Department in Lahore, Pakistan.

There were few opportunities for learning and development, and he felt stifled and ready for a change. That’s when he found the Chevening Awards.

Attending the University of Birmingham on a Chevening Scholarship was a turning point in my life.

Hammad moved to Birmingham in 1995 to study an MSc in Engineering, Water and Environmental Management at the University of Birmingham. Despite how grateful he was to have the opportunity to study in the UK, he found it hard to settle in at first.

‘In December of my Chevening year I called my parents and said “this is too much for me”. I felt overwhelmed by the pressure of my studies, and the UK weather was hard to adapt to.’

But after a little encouragement from home, Hammad felt renewed confidence that he could complete his Chevening year as he had set out to. He developed his interpersonal skills alongside a wealth of new academic knowledge. His course gave him the opportunity to develop his communication and presentation skills and living in the UK taught him how to integrate successfully into a new environment.


On returning home to Pakistan, Hammad felt ready to apply everything he had learnt through Chevening to his new role as Senior Environmental Officer at WWF-Pakistan. Just 17 years later, he found himself Director General of the organisation.

Today, his role can be challenging at times, but he recognises that it is a privilege to be at the helm of such a respected organisation.

‘I don’t mind working late when I love my job and I’m passionate about improving the world.’

Hammad believes that his people skills have been just as important as his technical aptitude in his successful rise up the career ladder. He emphasises the importance of building trust with those around you, since teams only feel empowered when they are given the trust to do their job well.

He also makes sincere efforts to keep positive people around him. Negativity can drain a team of its energy and Hammad believes that the more positive energy you give out, the more will come back to you.

A previous mentor gave Hammad leadership advice that he has never forgotten: ‘There is an old saying that, like a tree, a leader should not grow so big and tall that none of the plants underneath him can reach the sunlight and grow tall themselves. A leader should produce more leaders.’

For current Chevening Scholars, Hammad advises that they should have confidence and work hard.

‘I’m a doer. I spend less time planning and more time implementing that plan. How do you know whether you can do something if you don’t try?’



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