Farooq Sobhan talks about the work of his Bangladesh Enterprise Institute, which specializes in training civil servants. The institute was undertaking to train a core group of mid-level bureaucrats in order to help them develop key management and budgetary skills. He emphasizes the importance of job stability. Under the system prevalent in Bangladesh, people were transferred between positions frequently and did not get the opportunity to specialize. Sobhan stresses his belief that those who receive training must be encouraged to stay in positions that will allow them to use their new skills. He also identifies the problem of students who study abroad and never return, and the need to make the civil service more attractive. He also reflects on how a politicized civil service is damaging for a country, and shares ideas for depoliticizing a bureaucracy. He concludes by looking forward to the day when the Bangladeshi civil service has pride of place in society.
At the time of the interview, Farooq Sobhan was president of the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute, which specializes in providing high-level training to Bangladeshi civil servants. He had an extensive career in the diplomatic service of Bangladesh, beginning in 1964. After a two-year training program, he was posted to Cairo and then Paris. In early 1972, he returned to Bangladesh to join the newly established Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He served as the first director for North and South America as well as the Asia-Pacific region. He then served as counselor in Belgrade and in Moscow, director-general for multilateral economic affairs and the United Nations, and ambassador deputy permanent representative to the U.N. in New York, followed by ambassadorships in Malaysia and China. He served for three years as high commissioner to India and concluded his career as foreign secretary from March of 1995 until September of 1997. After that, he served as chairman of the Bangladesh Board of Investment and also as the special envoy of the prime minister. He co-founded the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute in 2000.