Rizwan Khokhar is the kind of person you instantly feel comfortable speaking with. Warm. Effusive. Humorous. This isn’t surprising given that he’s become adept at making people feel valued. In fact, it’s what he’s known for in his role as Value Stream Director at our Zebulon location.
It’s not about getting others to see my perspective,” Khokhar explains. “It’s about connecting with people on a personal level, engaging with them and appreciating each other. We need to understand we’re different but we’re all part of the same team. In fact, the differences make us stronger.”
The mechanical engineer relies on the lessons he’s learned throughout his life. Born in India, his immediate family eventually migrated to Pakistan splitting the extended family geographically. But this also gave him a chance to see and appreciate different cultures.
“This was not an easy time for my family. I watched my parents and grandparents suffer and that stayed with me,” Khokhar said. “My parents worked hard to save money so we could get an education. The school was so far, I had to walk long distance every day. I would see children in pristine school uniforms, riding in air-conditioned cars passing me on the street. However, I just kept walking.”
That determination was needed when Khokhar set his sights on the top engineering school in Karachi. An institution where only the top talent gets in. Not only did the budding scholar earn admission, but he was also granted a full scholarship. He realized perseverance paid off. There was no stopping him.
Over two decades of working at GSK, he would live in Pakistan, Australia then the US, building a life in each country where he could learn about the culture, visit landmarks, enjoy the food and make lifelong friends. But often as the only Muslim, Khokhar would stand out. But that does not deter him, because standing out is where he excels. He’s known for creating an environment where the staff thrives. It’s all because of the lessons this leader has learned throughout his life.
“The world is growing and transforming, that’s reality,” said Khokhar. “I encourage people to be true to themselves and bring the best version of that to work. If you’ve always been accepted, you may not understand what it means to feel excluded. I think of myself as the engine lubricant. When the heat cranks up, you just need a drop. I get people to connect and engage in informal conversations. This is how we find common ground.”
Khokhar also holds himself accountable for challenges, feeling the responsibility of ensuring patients get quality medicine on time. The facility works around the clock, determined to maintain their high level of performance.
“Patients are our priority,” said Khokhar. “One way we can support them is to ensure we have a diverse workforce that brings in a variety of approaches and solutions. I lead the Career Growth Network Employee Resource Group at Zebulon because I’m always working to help talent grow and finding ways I can offer support. When I look around our facility, I’m proud that we’re working to get ahead of disease together.”