Shahzada Dawood was the Vice Chairman of Engro Corporation, a business conglomerate based in Karachi, renowned for its businesses in agriculture, energy and telecommunications. The Dawood family is recognised as one of Pakistan’s wealthiest business families. Shahzada Dawood’s work focused on renewable energy and technology.
Shahzada Dawood was born on 12 February, 1975, in Rawalpindi. He studied Law as an undergraduate at Buckingham University in Britain and later received a master’s degree in global textile marketing from Philadelphia University, now part of the Thomas Jefferson University. In 2012, he was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. In December 2020, he also joined the Board of Trustees of the SETI Institute, an organisation devoted to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.
His son was a business student at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow and had just completed his first year. Like his father, he was a fan of science fiction and enjoyed solving Rubik’s Cubes and playing volleyball, according to a statement from Engro.
Mr. Dawood is survived by a daughter, Alina, and his wife, Christine.
Spirit of Curiosity and Adventure
The most prominent attribute of Shahzada Dawood was his innate spirit of curiosity and an unrelenting desire to learn about the world and its mysteries. According to a close friend of Shahzada Dawood, “He would make a daily call at 3 pm, which was 10 am in the UK where he was based. In this call, the family would discuss mysteries of the universe. Questions such as why Black Holes appear, would dominate the discussions. There would hardly be talk about work in these calls. Shahzada always encouraged us to expand our minds and be more perceptive as human beings.”
The journey to the Titanic was also reflective of Shahzada’s spirit of curiosity and adventure. Hussain Dawood, father of Shahzada and grand-father of Suleman said, “Both of them were so excited to see the Titanic. This is a pure exhibition of Shahzada’s high spirit of exploration.”
“We had a beautiful holiday in Lithuania, and were looking at the pictures this morning, remembering all the beautiful interactions we had shared,” Hussain Dawood recollected during the memorial. “Shahzada was all about experiencing life. He had been to Antarctica and he wished for his parents to visit there as well. Both Shahzada and Suleman had convinced us to accompany them to Antarctica this year. This exploratory side of them we cherish the most,” he continued.
Shahzada Dawood’s Instagram profile is like a memory book of his love of travel and nature; it is inundated with photos of birds, flowers and landscapes, including a sunset in the Kalahari Desert, the ice sheet in Greenland, penguins in the Shetlands and a tiny bird in London with the caption “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.”
“Never a Boss, but a Friend”
Another salient aspect of his personality was his empathy. According to close friends and family, Shahzada always stepped in at times of crisis and looked after the emotional well-being of those around him. His friend added, “Shahzada expressed a genuine concern for the people around him. He always emphasised the assessment of impact on people, whether this was related to business or learning in general.”
This was central to his conduct as the Vice Chairman of ENGRO as well. His friend reminisced, “He was never a boss, but a friend to the people who worked around him. And he always had a knack of making people happy and excited about the things that he was interested in.”
“Because of Shahzada’s self discipline and his passion to contribute to the society, he proved himself to be a leader. This came from the humility he had, when he interacted with colleagues and family,” added Hussain Dawood.
In his role at Engro, the company statement said, Mr. Dawood advocated “a culture of learning, sustainability and diversity.” He was also involved in his family’s charitable ventures, including the Engro Foundation, which supports small-scale farmers, and the Dawood Foundation, an education-focused nonprofit.
“A Family Man”
Above all, Shahzada was known to be a family man. In his memorial, his friend shared that Shahzada would always be in a rush to return home to his family. He had profound love and respect for his parents. Amongst nephews and nieces, he was popular as the “cool uncle.” He also had deep pride and fondness for his two children, Suleman Dawood and Alina Dawood.
“The character they (Shahzada and Suleman) displayed, the elegance of their personalities, their good manners, my God! Any family that has this will realise we had the best,” Suleman Dawood said. “Shahzada prioritised the wishes of his parents. He never upset us, and never brought any shade of unhappiness.”
Suleman Dawood was also known to be “operating at a level much ahead of his age.” A seamless mix of intellect and vulnerability made him highly endearing to the people he would interact with.
Christina, Shahzada’s wife and Suleman’s mother, also shared some heartwarming stories about the deceased. “The first time I met Shahzada was in 2000 at a university barbecue. It was loud and smoky, so both of us had stepped out to get some fresh air. I was highly drawn by his curiosity. He wanted to know everything about Germany from a German. I had no idea about Pakistan at the time, but this changed soon after. Two years later, we got married in Lahore. Shahzada was so grumpy that day because he hated being the centre of attention. Yet, he braved through and developed his “shaadi” smile, which was basically a fake smile,” smiled Christina.
“When Suleman was born, Shahzada waited in the corner while the family cooed and fussed over the baby. But when he held the baby, his eyes expressed that he had found a long lost companion,” Christina recounted.
“Suleman was an old soul. When he was four years old, we went for a holiday in Malaysia. I was resting because of an upset stomach. Suleman kissed me, then dug through his toy box, placed toys randomly over my body. Then he looked at his handiwork with his tongue sticking out and gleefully announced, “mama, you’re fine now.” Basically, he had placed toys on all the chakras, and I was floored by his generosity and intelligence,” Christina reminisced.
“As the children grew older, Shahzada became younger. He walked our children through the garden and explained nature to them- soil, bugs, flowers, everything. Our children loved sitting around him, discussing everything into depth,” she continued.
Prayers for the Deceased
Mufti Menk, a renowned Islamic scholar was invited to pray for the departed souls at the memorial. Menk prayed, “On this day of Arafah, we have gathered to engage in prayer. I will seize this beautiful opportunity to mention that I have lost a brother and a son, and I felt it the moment that it occurred. Yet, I asked Allah to give me the ability to accept what happened and moved on. Good and bad, faith and destiny, everything is in the hands of Allah. We should realise this and endure such losses with patience. The deceased will be happy to see that we have accepted the decree of the Almighty.”
“This is the plan of the Almighty. We come on to the earth and leave. Death is painful because we miss the deceased souls. But we must ask the Almighty to help us overcome the pain and support each other in times of grief and despair,” he continued.
“Many times, we are told that we have a family that really is just a gift from the Creator, and He has a right to take the gift back whenever He wants. The real challenge comes when one actually experiences this. Can one truly accept this, the will of the Creator? That will be my struggle,” grieved Hussain Dawood.
“Shahzada’s favourite sentence was “fighting na karo, love karo.” That is exactly how we were as a family. We spent our lives loving each other, and being curious about life, nature and its many mysteries. In this spirit, these two best friends embarked on their last voyage. These past few days have been incredibly challenging for our family. Emotions shifted from shock to hope, to finally despair and grief. In the time to come, your tremendous support and love will help mend my broken heart a little bit. In the meanwhile, please remember to pray for Shahzada and Suleman, and the souls lost with them too,” sighed Christina.
As the memorial neared its end, Shahzada’s friend sighed, “I will miss Shahzada- the darwaish, the malang, the bohemian visionary and above all- my friend.”