The mission of iris communications is to serve our clients as true partners so that they can make the best decisions and execute the best plans to achieve their goals. We pursue this mission by delivering clients rigorous market research, by devising strategies to enhance the value of their brands, and by helping them connect with and delight their customers.

Our vision is a world where every business achieves its full potential. We envision a Pakistan with a strong business sector, guided by reliable data and committed to the wellbeing of all stakeholders.

How do you embed values into a business enterprise? It’s simple . . . but it’s not easy. If you’re the leaders, you model those values—even when there’s a price to be paid. You only hire people who share those values, even if that means you have to hire more slowly than you’d like. If you’re an employee, you know that at iris, the core values are not words on a page—they are the principles we live by. Iris employees are encouraged to take calculated risks and allowed to make honest mistakes—but not to cut corners or compromise core values.

The Story of iris: A History in Three Parts

Like many dreams of youth, iris communications began in a university dormitory room. But so far from remaining just a dream, iris today has become one of Pakistan’s most successful fully integrated marketing companies.

The iris story started in 1997 when two teenage girls, Huma Maqsood and Maryam Wazirzada, met at university in their hometown of Lahore. The two girls quickly forged a deep friendship based on shared passions ranging from cricket to music to fashion.

But what truly captured their imaginations was the intersection of the business world with all the exciting new technologies then being developed. Information technology was exploding, making it possible to gather, store, analyze, and model vast amounts of data in unprecedented ways. The information technology was truly revolutionary. But the marketing disciplines that Huma and Maryam were studying were classic: timeless principles about understanding your customers and delivering what they need.

So Huma and Maryam wondered: What if they could run their own company—one that would put the power of the information revolution behind the timeless principles of marketing and business administration?

Huma and Maryam made a pact to launch their own company. No one doubted their intellects or abilities—but no one thought they had enough practical experience to launch a company, either. From overcoming those early doubts, to launching iris, to growing it into one of the nation’s leading marketing firms, Huma and Maryam learned life-changing lessons along the way.

LESSON #1 Never give up. Never, never, never, never, never give up. The skepticism that greeted the new entrepreneurs taught them this first, all-important lesson. Huma and Maryam kept themselves inspired by devouring books and articles about other start-ups. About entrepreneurs who believed in themselves and their idea. About stubborn visionaries who persisted, and prevailed. Huma and Maryam knew their idea was a powerful one—a marketing research firm that deeply understood its clients’ business and would devote 100% to customer care. They knew it was an idea whose time would come. So if they got turned down by a prospective client, they kept trying. They. Just. Kept. At it.

LESSON #2: No pain, no gain. There are no shortcuts. Neither Huma nor Maryam paid themselves, for years, even as the company began to thrive. All profits got plowed back into the business, so it could keep growing. From the beginning, Huma and Maryam wanted their new endeavor to grow beyond the two of them. They wanted a deep and talented enough team to compete against the big firms—and win—for the most interesting work and the most innovative clients. They were clear about this goal and committed to it.

Huma and Maryam were (and remain) great believers in the wisdom of teams—the insight that “none of us is as smart as all of us.” They had seen, again and again, the powerful results that organizations could achieve if everyone’s ideas were heard, taken into account, and aligned around the common objective. They decided to name their company “iris,” an acronym for “individual reflections, in sync.” In Greek mythology, Iris is also the goddess of communications, messages—and new endeavors.

There were many points along the way when a coveted new account was on the line. Other firms might decide to staff up quickly, to look only at a potential new hire’s credentials rather than the whole person. Huma and Maryam were never even tempted. If they weren’t convinced that a candidate truly shared the iris core values, they would pass, even if it meant they lost the account—for now. Again—no pain, no gain.

LESSON #3: The essence of leadership is service. The experience of growing and leading a team taught Huma and Maryam this third and perhaps most important lesson of all: the true leader has a servant’s heart. Huma and Maryam remain the hardest-working people at iris. They are hands-on: every client’s account receives their personal attention. They take their responsibility as mentors seriously and their responsibility as role models: you can’t delegate vision or values. Your success—and that of anything you want to build—is in your hands.

Huma’s and Maryam’s personal dedication, their commitment to hiring only the best, their energy, and their raw talent meant that iris began to succeed. But iris’ most powerful competitive advantage has always been its passion for customer care. The consulting sector was slower to professionalize in Pakistan than in some other countries. The culture at consulting firms was to increase profit margin by cutting corners or not caring about quality. Huma and Maryam had been deeply influenced by the wisdom of Franklin Covey and other international management consultants whose guiding principle was: “Win/win—or no deal.” The iris partners knew that the key to true success was a relentless, obsessive focus on customer care.

The results speak for themselves.

Today, iris serves a client portfolio that would be the pride of any consulting firm. iris work with some of Pakistan’s most prestigious established companies—and also partners with some of the country’s most dynamic and creative start-ups. The firm employs more than 200 people on a full- or part-time basis, and has a deep pool of trusted experts to call upon as clients’ needs require.

Huma and Maryam are still best friends, as they have been for 25 years. They are wives and mothers now—but still personally run iris from side-by-side desks in their shared office.

Why Choose iris?

Iris delivers. We hire the brightest and most passionate people in the business. Then we immerse them in a corporate culture where they know they must, no excuses, exceed customer expectations—and where they are given all the support they need to do just that. Our lean and nimble business model means iris can deliver world-class service at highly competitive costs. And our wrap-around service offering means clients have all the services they need, under one roof, to understand their customers’ needs—and meet them.

iris’ Nationwide Presence

The iris team

iris is widely recognized as one of the best places to work for talented, ambitious people passionate about client service. Each project is personally overseen by either or both of the two managing partners, and is implemented by a senior team member. IRIS also has established relationships with a deep pool of trusted experts with whom we have worked again and again, depending on our clients’ needs. This business model means that clients receive tailored solutions, paying only for the talent their project needs—and getting the very best. Below are biographies of some of the senior members of the full-time team.

Managing Partners

Frequently Asked Questions

iris has a core team of more than 200 key staff (60 of them full-time) who are among the most talented and respected in their fields. They could work anywhere they want—and they choose to work at iris for the family-friendly, creative, and collaborative environment we foster. We also have a deep pool of trusted experts with whom we work again and again, pulling them onto projects as the need arises. For clients, the iris business model—high skill, low overhead–means that they pay only for what their project actually needs. They get the world-class talent of a big multinational, but also the personal commitment that only comes from a small, owner-led firm. It is the best of both worlds. The evidence is a client portfolio that includes such global leaders as Nestle, Unilever, Proctor & Gamble and countless others.

The vast majority—88 percent by volume, 63 percent by number—of iris’ business came from repeat clients during the first three quarters of 2016. Those numbers are representative of prior years, too. And we believe it says a great deal about the way iris does business. Our clients see us as an extension of their teams, and they value what we deliver enough to keep coming back.

ESOMAR is a global trade association of marketing firms dedicated to promoting the value of market and opinion research in illuminating real issues and bringing about effective decision-making. Based in the Netherlands, ESOMAR counts more than 4,900 members from over 130 countries. Iris adheres to all ESOMAR principles and regulations, and is listed on the ESOMAR website.

Franklin Covey is a global company specializing in performance improvement. Perhaps best known for the revolutionary insights captured in founder Stephen Covey’s classic Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Franklin Covey helps organizations achieve improved results that require a change in human behavior. iris co-founders and managing partners Huma Maqsood and Maryam Wazirzada have both been deeply inspired by Stephen Covey’s insights and are both qualified under the rigorous Franklin Covey program as certified trainers. Franklin Covey principles are a core part of iris’ approach to training and executive coaching for client staff.

Being a force for good was iris’ vision from the very beginning. Co-founders Huma Maqsood and Maryam Wazirzada systematically built a company where ambitious, honorable people could excel in their careers, and where clients could trust that their interests would always come first. Huma and Maryam went without any salary for years to make that vision a reality. Today iris donates money in support of charitable causes, particularly those that focus on health and education. We also provide select charities with our professional consulting services on a pro bono or “low bono” basis.

Pakistan will always come first for iris. It’s the sixth most populous nation in the world, and one where there is an enormous addressable market for iris’ services. But part of what has made iris successful is our commitment to learning from international best practices and our collaborative spirit. We hope to expand regionally and internationally in the coming years, whether through joint ventures with other firms, by opening iris satellite offices, or both.