A visionary and entrepreneur par excellence, Sayem Sobhan is the dynamic force at the helm of the Bashundhara Group, headquartered in Bangladesh. With his vision of building an economically empowered and self-reliant nation, he took over as Managing Director of the Group on 16th September 2001. Under his able leadership, Bashundhara Group has become one of the largest industrial conglomerates in Bangladesh, with over 20 major concerns and a global footprint.
His approach has always been underscored by a need to promote community welfare and to accelerate economic growth, especially in the fields of trade, manufacturing, sports, and journalism. Reflecting the ethos of the Group – ‘for the people, for the country’ – his far-sighted blueprint for corporate success has always been intertwined with the future and growth of the nation itself. However, it is his ability to transform the Group from a corporate powerhouse to a transformative force in nation-building and developing human resources that has earned him the mantle of a leader.
Mr. Sobhan has a formidable educational pedigree, having spent his formative years at King’s School in Ely, Cambridgeshire (UK), which is one of the world’s oldest educational institutions. He went on to complete a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the American International University London (2001) before returning home to Dhaka to make his mark on the global corporate landscape.
His meticulous work ethic and progressive ideas for business and economic development have earned him countless accolades, most notably the status of Commercially Important Person (CIP) by the Government of Bangladesh (from the year 2016) for his contribution to the country’s economy. In 2011, he also acquired a US Congressional Recognition for his outstanding contribution in consolidating business ties between Bangladesh and the USA.
As a titan of industry, he is associated with various business forums. He is a member of the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industries (DCCI), the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce & Industries (MCCI) and the SAARC Chamber of Commerce & Industries.
He currently resides in Dhaka and is married to Mrs. Sabrina Sobhan who serves as a Director in Bashundhara Group. An inspiring philanthropist who is committed to various causes in the fields of education, healthcare, and social welfare, he is also the proud father of two children.
Career Highlights and Achievements
Since stepping up to the challenge of being one of the youngest managing directors in the country, Mr. Sobhan has taken the Bashundhara Group to new and enviable heights. In a remarkable display of his seasoned strategy skills, he started his innings with a well-planned development and restructuring of the Group’s human resources, which became the firm foundation for all its future endeavors.
He went on to streamline the overall operation of the Group’s industries, implementing modernization and expansion schemes for each of the production units. He also secured strong and dependable sources for industrial input supply and output chains. This enabled them to achieve optimum efficiency and higher productivity targets.
Keeping in mind the needs of the nation and his vision for the Group, he embarked upon a mission to launch various new projects, opening up new revenue streams and adding many more laurels to the legacy of the Bashundhara Group. Beyond his far-reaching vision and astute business skills, he has also earned a sterling reputation as an entrepreneur who leaves no stone unturned when it comes to client relationships and satisfaction. Some of his most celebrated achievements include:
Emerged as one of the top employers in the country
Along with directing a rapid expansion of the Group’s portfolio of projects and initiatives, Mr. Sobhan has always been resolute about developing the nation’s human resource capital and creating a wealth of jobs across sectors and capabilities. Today, the Bashundhara Group directly employs a workforce of 50,000 people, and indirectly benefits the lives of over half a million people. Under his leadership, the Group has earned itself a reputation for fair practices and a focus on employee growth and welfare.
Mr. Sobhan believes in the ripple effect that job creation and sustainable employment can have on the economic and social landscape of a nation, as well as on the everyday lives of its people. With this belief as the cornerstone of his vision, he is now paving the way for new, transformative pathways to build the workforce of the future.
Launched the largest and FIRST-Ever privately owned Bitumen plant in Bangladesh
Apart from being a shining example of industrial prowess, this 72.5 acre facility is also a testament to Mr. Sobhan’s focus on nation-building. With a production capacity of 2,210,000 tons per annum, The Keraniganj unit of Bashundhara Oil and Gas Company Limited will not only be able to meet the country’s demand for local-weather-friendly bitumen but will also be exported to global markets.
This state-of-the-art greenfield project has been designed to ensure efficiency in the production process while incorporating the best of sustainability and eco-friendly practices. From creating countless new jobs to aiding the nation’s efforts in improving road infrastructure, this project will pave a new path for development, not just for the Group but the entire country as well.
Launching the largest oil-refinery plant in Bangladesh
Another project under the aegis of Bashundhara Oil and Gas Company Limited, this soon-to-be-launched project is the only privately owned refinery plant in the country. Under construction, the refinery is expected to create many jobs and meet about 80 per cent of the national demand for refined oil, in line with the company’s vision to narrow the existing demand-supply gap for petroleum and petrochemical products.
Commitment towards impartial journalism
Foreseeing a world where the media plays an increasingly pivotal role in influencing the social consciousness of a nation, Mr. Sobhan launched the East West Media Group Limited (EWMGL) in 2009. From the global and national media landscape today, it is quite evident how prudent this move was. In line with its mission, EWMGL has earned itself a reputation for throwing an unflinching spotlight on the news of the day in a thoroughly objective and impartial manner.
Over the years, it has become a voice for the unbiased truth across its growing portfolio of some of the most prolific and prominent print, online, radio, and television platforms in the country. This includes the prestigious Bangla daily ‘Kaler Kantho’, the largest Bangla newspaper ‘Bangladesh Pratidin’, an English newspaper ‘Daily Sun’, a bilingual online portal ‘banglanews24.com’, a non-stop news tv channel ‘News 24’, a radio station ‘Radio Capital 94.8 FM’, as well as a sports channel ‘TSports’ .
Setting new benchmarks of excellence across industries
Mr. Sobhan is a proponent of smart strategy and agile decision-making, which is reflected in the growth story of the Group’s concerns. Today, the Group’s cement producing units have one of the highest production capacities in the country. Many new products such as global standard paper, tissue, sanitary and surgical products as well as personal hygiene products have been launched. They have all found niches in markets both at home and abroad.
He has also had a firm in steering the Bashundhara Group towards setting new benchmarks in upgrading to the latest in world-class technology, notable among which is the launch of the biggest Marlin-type Cutter-Suction dredger in the country, and the launch of the country’s first semi-automated LP gas cylinder making plant.
Built one of the largest integrated shopping malls in South Asia
The launch and the successful management of Bashundhara City was one of the most inspiring early success stories under Mr. Sobhan’s leadership. Already a shining landmark on the skyline of Dhaka’s growing metropolis, this megamall is the first of its kind in Bangladesh. With its 19-level exquisitely crafted structure and innovative architectural design, this project won a tremendous amount of international acclaim, shortly after it was opened.
With over 60,000 daily visitors and the choicest of global retail brands under its roof, it is not just an integral part of urban life in the city but also a must-see attraction for anyone visiting the country.
Built the first integrated all-purpose community assembly center in Bangladesh
With a vision to redefine the scope and to raise the standard of the domestic service industry, Mr. Sobhan helmed the launch of the International Convention City Bashundhara (ICCB). A game-changer in the events and service industry, ICCB is in a league of its own when it comes to its design and facilities.
Sprawling over massive area and packed with world-class amenities, this ultra-modern facility has become the go-to hub for socio-cultural, corporate, educational, commercial, national, and international events of varying scale.
Building the state-of-the-art Bashundhara Sports Complex
Lending a hand to the task of supercharging the nation’s sporting prowess, Mr. Sobhan is currently leading a project to construct a world-class sports complex in the nation’s capital. Spread over 50 acres, the complex is equipped with the largest indoor sports facility in the country, along with well-designed outdoor sporting fields.
Supporting football, cricket, hockey and squash among numerous other games, the Bashundhara Sports Complex is all set to become one of the nation’s premier sporting destinations.
Developed and grew the global footprint of the Group’s shipping fleet
Born from a vision to ensure faster, uninterrupted, and hassle-free transportation of resources for the Group’s industrial and manufacturing units, the Bashundhara fleet of ships is truly an arterial lifeline for the conglomerate. Under the name of Bashundhara Logistics, this entity began its operations in 2005, and within a year, the fleet was home to 20 logistics vessels.
By next year, this fleet will have a total cargo carrying tonnage of 183,800 M/Tons across 76 vessels, all of which have excellent environmental credentials and the highest safety standards. Another noteworthy achievement is that the company builds most of its own ships at the Bashundhara Owned Shipyard – Bashundhara Steel & Engineering Ltd (BSEL), under the direct supervision of RINA, the International Classification Society. To ensure the maintenance of its fleet, the company has also equipped itself with its own slipway, dockyard, and other shipbuilding /ship repair support at BSEL, on the banks of the river Burigonga.
It is a noteworthy accomplishment, indeed, to chart such a rapid course of growth and success for this maritime endeavor. However, the true testament of Mr. Sobhan’s strategy and planning acumen is in his foresight and zeal to shape it into a self-sustaining ecosystem with inhouse construction and maintenance capabilities.
A firm believer in exploring innovative business opportunities and avenues for smarter revenue, Mr. Sobhan has a keen strategic mind, with an uncanny ability to forecast business potential and to design implementation roadmaps.
Managing Director – Bashundhara Group
After almost two decades under his steady hand, the Bashundhara Group now operates across diverse sectors including the manufacturing (cement, paper and pulp, various types of tissue, steel, LP Gas bottling and distribution, food & beverages), media, shipping, shipbuilding and trading among others. Beginning its journey with its flagship real estate business, East West Property Development Pvt. Ltd, the company quickly became one of the pioneers of the country’s planned urbanization efforts. One of the largest business conglomerates in Bangladesh, the Bashundhara Group is proud to be a flag-bearer of progress and transformation for the country. Though headquartered in the nation’s capital, the Group has decentralized its industries and has branches all over the country, creating employment for over fifty thousand people. Keeping up with best-in-class technology, most of the Group’s mills/factories are ISO- 9001/9002 certified and BSTI (Bangladesh Standards Testing Institute) enterprises.
One of the crown jewels of the Bashundhara enterprise is the newly launched bitumen plant and the upcoming oil-refinery plant, under the aegis of the Bashundhara Oil & Gas Company Limited. Both these projects are commendable for being the largest of their kind in production capacity, especially among privately-owned companies in the country.
Another gem in the Bashundhara sky is the multi-faceted shopping mall and recreation center called Bashundhara City which has been an integral part of people’s lives, offering both commercial operations and recreation facilities under a single roof.
Managing Director – East West Media Group Limited (EWMGL)
The largest mass media house in Bangladesh, EWMGL was born out of Mr. Sobhan’s commitment towards objective journalism and the public need for impartial information and entertainment. Commencing operations in 2009, it is now home to 2 Bangla dailies ‘Kaler Kantho’ and ‘Bangladesh Pratidin’, an English newspaper ‘Daily Sun’, a bilingual online news portal ‘banglanews24.com’, a non-stop news television channel ‘News24’, and an FM radio station ‘Radio Capital 94.8 FM’. It has also launched its newest venture, a sports TV channel ‘T Sports’. Since 2016, the East West Media Group Limited is awarded the title of being the Highest Taxpayer among media groups by the National Board of Revenue.
Chairman – Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra Limited (Football Club)
Ever the enterprising change-maker, Mr. Sobhan believes in the power of sports as a significant component in the socio-economic development of a country. He also believes that it is an excellent catalyst for improving community health, productivity and social cohesion. Founded with the same visionary zeal as any of his corporate ventures, this leading sports club has been instrumental in contributing players to the nation’s roster. It has won many major titles such as Bangladesh Premier League, Bangladesh Federation Cup, Bangladesh Independence Cup, among others.
Another stellar addition to these endeavors is the Bashundhara Sports Complex, which is under construction. A state-of-the-art 50-acre facility, this complex will equip the coming generations with world-class facilities such as gymnasiums, training facilities, tournament arenas, and residential spaces. The sports complex will also be home to the Bashundhara Kings, a football team under the patronage of the Bashundhara Group. This team, which was founded in 2016, are champions of the Bangladesh Premier League (2018-2019), clenched the championship title under the Federation Cup for the year 2019 & 2020 and is a much-beloved fixture among the sporting ventures of the Bashundhara Group.
As much as he is a catalyst for economic growth and progress both for the Bashundhara Group and for the country, Mr. Sobhan is also a transformative force for community welfare and philanthropy in the country. He is passionate about empowering people with the support they need to live a life of dignity and prosperity despite the challenges of their social backgrounds.
Mr. Sobhan serves as the patron of several hospitals that ensure lifesaving medical care to the nation’s poor and marginalized. Some of these institutions include the Bashundhara-Addin Medical College, several hospitals in Keraniganj, Bashundhara Eye Hospital, a Maternity Center, and the Advocate Atamia Free Friday Clinic in Manikganj.
Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic that has incapacitated nations across the world, Mr. Sobhan has been at the forefront of relief and containment efforts in his country. He has been tirelessly lending his time, energy, and his problem-solving acumen to help the government and the people overcome this calamity.
He donated TK 100 million to the Prime Minister Welfare Funds and has personally distributed 500,000 protective masks and 6,000 pieces of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) among various Law enforcing agencies such as police, navy, army, and the rapid action battalion.
Working hand in hand with the country’s leadership, he submitted a proposal to the honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to help establish a 5,000-bed temporary hospital to treat the afflicted. As a part of this plan, the Bashundhara Group will be temporarily providing 240,000 square feet of the International Convention City Bashundhara (ICCB) to set up this makeshift hospital. The proposal was met with instant approval from the Premier and rapid action from the officials of the health ministry and armed forces who visited the site and have greenlit the implementation of the proposal.
To ensure that citizens who are most affected by the containment measures taken to curb the spread of the virus, he has also launched an ongoing daily initiative to provide essential commodities to people in need, benefiting 40,000 families and counting.
Young people are the greatest wealth of any nation and Mr. Sobhan contributes to their development and growth by being a patron of various initiatives that aim to give them equal opportunities, irrespective of their backgrounds.
He is a patron of the Bashundhara Technical Institute (BTI) which offers vocational education and training without/minimal charges to underprivileged youth.
He is also the patron of the Bashundhara Special Children Foundation, a special education school and hostel that works towards helping differently abled children integrate into mainstream society.
As a part of his tireless efforts to promote the development and the improvement of livelihoods across the nation, Mr. Sobhan is a patron of different socio-cultural and rural development organizations. One of the notable projects under is patronage is the first-ever interest-free micro-credit scheme that is being implemented in Bancharampur.