Iqbal Mahmood discusses his experiences as a member of the Bangladesh Civil Service. Specifically, he elaborates on the managing at the top training program (MATT 2), which was started in the country in 2006. As a member of the first batch of civil servants at the program, Mahmood describes how the training provided him with an opportunity to work with his peers in problem identification and resolution. Mahmood provides details concerning the performance improvement project he undertook in this capacity, and further delves into other successful initiatives resulting from the program. According to him, one of the greatest successes of the program was the changes it introduced in the mindset of those involved, breaking hierarchical barriers between leading-men and their subordinates and inculcating a spirit of reform and debate within both government officials and the public. Ultimately, Mahmood emphasizes the importance of strengthening existing structures in order to ensure the sustainability of reform, remarking that the benefits of the program could well be lost if the future does not focus on institutional capacity building.
At the time of this interview, Iqbal Mahmood was the secretary of the Bangladesh Ministry of Public Administration. After obtaining a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Dhaka, as well as a degree in policy studies from the University of New South Wales in Australia, Mahmood joined the administrative service of Bangladesh as assistant commissioner in 1981. From there, he went on to serve in a number of different positions, acquiring over thirty years of experience in the country’s civil service. His tenure has included a position as the deputy secretary of the Economics Relations Division, the joint secretary of the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock as well as the secretary of the Ministry of Establishment. Mahmood was also a member of the first batch of civil servants that attended the national managing at the top 2 (MATT 2) training program in June 2006.