First of all, please tell us about your educational background?
Kiran Akbar : I did my matriculation from Winnington School Khewra and F.Sc. from Lahore College for Women University. I won Silver Medal in F.Sc. Then, I went to UET Lahore and did Electrical Engineering as well as MBA (HR) from there. By the Grace of Allah Almighty, I have been a brilliant student throughout my academic career.
Was joining Foreign Service of Pakistan always your dream? And, how will you utilize your qualifications in the arena of diplomacy?
Kiran Akbar : I always aspired to do something in which I could feel a sense of achievement. With the passage of time, I started increasingly realize that CSS is the platform that provides aspirants with ample opportunities to excel and the individual can bring about a positive change in different areas of the society; thus becoming a valuable asset to the country. Moreover, when I started preparing for CSS I had only one group in mind: Foreign Service of Pakistan (FSP). It was so because I felt that one experiences a completely different life in this group. Diplomacy is a process and good communication skills, active listening skills and effective conflict management are its essential tools and in this regard, my qualifications will help me a great deal.
What is the key to making a difference in the written part of CSS exam?
Kiran Akbar : In my opinion, you should make your own notes after studying four to five books. Such well-prepared notes will not only help you in creating the difference but will also be instrumental to handling conceptual and analytical questions in the paper.
As you have secured excellent marks in Everyday Science (EDS) and Pakistan Affairs papers, what preparation strategy did you adopt for those? Are you a good crammer?
Kiran Akbar : I used to read four to five books for each subject. Same is the case with EDS and Pakistan Affairs. Actually, students cram the notes of others when they don’t make their own. Like I mentioned earlier, if a candidate prepares his own well-researched notes, then there will be no need for cramming at all. And, this is the strategy that did wonders for me.
How do you see the revision of the syllabus for CSS exam recently announced by FPSC?
Kiran Akbar : I think it’s a right step will in the right direction. Aspirants now have a variety of informative and interesting subjects to choose from.
How one can adopt a balanced approach as far as focus on compulsory and optional subjects is concerned?
Kiran Akbar : Aspirants should draw up a detailed yet flexible timetable in such a way that no subject is left ignored. On the one hand, it will help them in planning ahead while will let them know the current status of their preparation, on the other.
How had been your experience of interview with the panel?
Kiran Akbar : The interview panel was very friendly and the overall environment was quite good. I dropped a couple of questions but the panellists remained calm and kept smiling. Their attitude gave me confidence and helped me keep my nerves under control. The whole interview lasted for about 25 minutes. I was asked questions from different fields. For instance, Mr Chairman asked me as to what was the news of the day and asked question related to Islamic State. Ms Batool asked me about historical significance of Women’s Day. I dropped this and some questions related to senate elections. Sir Wajid Rana’s part was more of a rapid-fire round while Sir Lehri asked me about Khaaksar Movement. I answered their questions in detail. In short, it was an amazingly different and pleasant experience.
Would you like to share something interesting or surprising from your journey to success in CSS?
Kiran Akbar : I would say that my whole CSS journey, from beginning to till end, has been an interesting experience with many twists and turns. So, there is no single moment that I can point out.