For leaning into people skills to deliver powerful results
Hafiz Naseer Afzal didn’t start at the National Engineering Services Pakistan (Pvt.) Ltd. with the idea of becoming a project manager. He spent his early years at the state-founded consultancy as an instrumentation and control engineer, primarily designing, installing and commissioning thermal power plants. But Afzal gradually took on more project management responsibilities—and discovered a synergy with his communication skills. That revelation inspired Afzal to pursue a master’s degree in project management while still working full time.
Afzal’s blend of people and technical skills serves him well as he oversees megaprojects in the public sector—often with spectacular results. Case in point: the installation of a 448-megawatt gas turbine at the Balloki Power Plant, which provides energy for more than 6 million homes in Pakistan. Prior to the project, the fastest installation of a similarly sized machine had been 120 days. But with keen planning and resource management, Afzal’s team slashed that time essentially in half, installing the gas turbine in just 61 days.
“I learned a lot from this project,” Afzal says. “I learned how to manage people on large-scale projects, and I explored the strengths and weaknesses of my personality.”
Stakeholder management has become one of Afzal’s biggest focuses as a project leader—a capability he says was sharpened by earning the Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification.
“People are the main thing,” he explains. “If you have good communication skills, then you can manage easily.”
Those skills also help him deliver strong impact as a member of the PMI Lahore, Pakistan Chapter. Currently director of sponsorships and events, he oversees everything from symposiums to concerts—all while fostering meaningful connections with students, chapter leaders and the Pakistan Engineering Council.
All of his experiences have left him confident that project management is his calling.
“When you satisfy your clients, your contractors, your colleagues, they’re happy and they have a smile on their faces,” Afzal says. “That’s what encourages me to continue doing project management.”
Q&A: Hafiz Naseer Afzal on an oil industry blockbuster and the futurist allure of Neom
What’s your project management superpower?
I can manage people smartly and diplomatically.
What movie are you obsessed with recommending right now?
Deepwater Horizon was the best movie based on a true event in the oil industry.
What moonshot project would you most like to work on?
I want to work on the Neom city power project in Saudi Arabia. I think it will be an experimental project for the future generation.