Forum on World Class IT - 212 Interviews and Podcasts

Welcome to the Forum on World Class IT podcast series, a collection of exclusive interviews with Chief Information Officers and other IT industry thought leaders. Learn from the experts on how best to establish a truly World Class IT organization.

Umar Saif
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February 3, 2014: Umar Saif, Vice Chancellor of Information Technology University, Pakistan

Among other topics, Umar discusses the following with Metis Strategy:

  • Umar’s journey from educational experiences in Pakistan to the UK and the US, and how he leveraged experiences at Cambridge and MIT to bring back lessons to Pakistan
  • How LUMS first responded to the entrepreneurial ethos that Umar brought to the table i.e. creating real-impact projects as opposed to academic research
  • Umar’s  innovations and projects that have had real social and private sector impact in Pakistan
  • The importance of the mobile technology and platforms in Pakistan, the world’s fourth largest “texting” country
  • Cultural and logistical constraints faced by tech entrepreneurs in Pakistan, including a murky intellectual property legal space
  • The rise of citizen journalism
  • Eye on the trends: Fundamental changes occurring in the education and media fields, which create great opportunities for entrepreneurs like Umar in Pakistan

Umar Saif’s Biography:

Umar is the Vice Chancellor of the Information Technology University in Pakistan, a newly created university that aims to implement a unique teaching methodology and cross-disciplinary research that is grounded in real-world problem solving to educate the next generation of innovative and entrepreneurial engineers. Umar has an ideal background for this, having spent time both in academe and in the start-up setting.

Prior to his current role, Umar was an Associate Professor in the department of computer science at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). He is also the founder of one of the first startup incubators in Lahore, Pakistan, called SCI.  He has worked on a number of start-ups including SMSall,,, and

Umar was named one of the top 35 young innovators in the world (TR35) in 2011. He was selected as a Young Global Leader (YGL) by the World Economic Forum in 2010. He also received the Google Faculty Research Award in 2011 and the MIT Technovator Award in 2008 among many other accolades.

Umar has a Bachelor of Science degree from LUMS, a PhD from the University of Cambridge, and a post-doctorate from MIT, all in computer science.

The World Class IT principles in yellow were the focus of this interview