Earlier this week I interviewed Abbas Kazmi, who is well known in Oxford for his work with the Oxford Guild, a well renowned society with a prestigious reputation, but one that had been faltering over the past fews years, before Abbas stepped in. During the interview get a look into the man that has worked tirelessly to bring the society back to life and what drove him, but I also learned how much more Abbas has had to offer in many different areas.
The interview is longer than our usual, but the profile is a detailed, insightful & inspiring look into the mind of an entrepreneur. A full transcript of the interview can be read here: https://goo.gl/S39YuC with additional questions and more information about challenges, the Oxford Guild and Oxford Accelerator. Below you can find an abridged version which has snippets from the full interview with Abbas:
Can you give me a brief background to yourself?
I was born in London and lived in Dubai for 7 years as a child. I was very fortunate that my parents took my younger sister and I travelling around the world at every opportunity and so I had a very multicultural upbringing visiting over 80 countries over the years. I was a scholar at Westminster School and at New College, Oxford University where I read History and both at School and University I was lucky enough to be taught by some of the most inspiring and best tutors (including some of my academic heroes!). I studied 5 languages at Westminster School and made sure I threw myself into a wide range of different activities on top of my studies (which included 5 A Levels, 7 AS Levels and 11 GCSEs) throughout School and University from sports and drama to debating and art to societies and charities to journalism and businesses. I am a very social person and did lots of these things because I enjoy meeting different people and building things and whenever I had spare time I wanted to do something, see my friends, go out and preferred that to lazing about in front of the TV in the house for example!
What drove your inspiration to get into enterprise from an early age?
I have always been fascinated by the business world and technology in particular from a young age and enjoyed following the latest commercial developments, macro-economic news and the financial markets. I was (and still am!) a voracious reader and started reading the news and business sections of the papers from a young age and from there read more online, in magazines and books. I’m like a sponge, taking in everything around me, noticing all the details and am a quick learner. Growing up in a family with lots of business people across oil, banking, hedge funds, venture capital and private equity, I tried to follow the work my parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents etc. all did and was excited by all their different projects. I’ve been described as being very driven and ambitious by people but for me this came out of a desire I’ve always had to build something big and innovative that made a difference – I’m a creative person and enjoy challenging myself and pushing myself.
I particularly enjoy selling and setting targets that are a stretch and then working hard to beat them, and there’s no better feeling than when you do that! I set up my first company at 16 and as Managing Director led a team of 11 as part of the Young Enterprise scheme which really whet my appetite. We developed a computer game (essentially ‘FIFA meets the Sims and Second Life’) and also sold promotional merchandise and advertising services (largely targeted London based companies who were rebranding) and we still have the all-time historical record for the highest profit made which makes me very proud. This was done alongside my studies and university applications to both Oxford and top universities in the US and showed me that I could put my entrepreneurial skills to work successfully.
I made sure I tried to learn as much as possible about different areas of the business world, and meet and speak to as many people as possible and go to numerous events - this has helped me to build up a good understanding and also a large personal network of contacts from a young age. I started doing internships and work experience as soon as I could as a teenager, making use of spare time in the holidays (as well as having fun and time off!). I have since done internships in and worked across investment banking (across divisions including M&A, equity research and sales and trading), asset management, consulting, hedge funds, commodities, technology, venture capital and private equity at a wide range of companies including Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank etc. All this experience has allowed me to see what I like and do not like and get exposure to various different areas of the commercial world from a young age.
You managed to fit a lot in whilst at University, on your way to winning Undergraduate of the year 2014. How did you manage to effectively manage your time?
Haha a lot is an understatement! I got involved in a very wide range of different activities and projects at Oxford, continuing a trend from school and so was very busy throughout my time there to say the least and was known for having fingers in all the different pies. It could be challenging at times but when you enjoy it you don’t really see it as work!
Whilst at Oxford I ran three startups, was President of over 10 university societies including the Guild that I relaunched and built from scratch, been involved at a very senior level (Vice-President etc.) on the committees of a further 15, have played several sports for Oxford’s University Blues Team and college (squash, cricket, football, hockey mainly with some rowing which I had also done in my school years), produced three plays, organised six balls, managed an investment partnership, produced my own careers guide covering a wide range of areas and worked three evenings a week promoting for nightclubs and managing teams of promoters for each night. The perks were a lot of fun with free entry and queue jump, free tables and drinks each night (I still get these whenever I go back to visit Oxford!) and it was great to launch new nights and clubs and to bring in some big artists and performers. In addition I did charitable work with RAG and the Oxford Hub and was Chief Financial Partnerships Officer at 180 Degrees Consulting (world’s largest student consultancy) and was an editor for both the main student papers where amongst other things I had several shows where I would interview students, speakers etc. (they had some great names such as Bop/Flop, Kebab Van Dialogues, Oxford Cribs, a capella stories etc.), had an agony aunt column and a slightly racier anonymous column that was a lot of fun to write as an 18 year old, and built and ran the official Oxford Student newspaper website and web presence. I was also able to keep up my art and drama and had the privilege of producing the sold-out Mephisto which was one of the most financially successful plays in the past ten years at Oxford’s largest theatre, the Oxford Playhouse and which was invited to showcase at the International Student Drama Festival. It was amazing to work was able to work alongside Milja Fenger, our Director with rather unorthodox techniques(!), whose short film ‘The Road Home’ had been nominated for an Oscar.
I did all these things because I enjoyed each of them and always liked to meet new people. When people talk about Oxford they always speak about the alumni but at Oxford it is quite easy to get stuck just in your college and course and for me one of the important things was to meet as many different, interesting and talented people as possible at the University. I did not do these things for CV building at all and having done internships before University and several in my first year I did not need any more things! I always enjoyed keeping myself busy and whenever I had spare time I wanted to do something, see my friends, go out and preferred that to lazing about in front of Iplayer in the house for example! Overall, I found I learned more and developed more skills from the extra-curricular experiences outside my course than the soft skills you build when working on essays etc.
As you can probably tell I didn’t really sleep much! Luckily I’ve always been an early riser naturally (without alarms – just keep curtains open to get sunlight in) and found that I only need 3 hours or so a night from my early teens. In terms of my academic work one of the most useful skills we learned at school was how to read quickly and gut books for the information you needed. I found this meant that I could do all my reading for my weekly essays in just a few hours and then spend a couple of hours writing them in one morning and afternoon each week. I inherited a great photographic memory from my mother which saved enormous amounts of time in terms of revising for mocks and exams but beyond that there aren’t many ‘productivity hacks’ I can mention. I was able to get some of the more mundane things done by just convincing myself that they were more exciting than they actually were – it’s all about the state of mind and if you can convince your brain it makes things much more efficient! I found that being busy meant that you had to force yourself to become good at it and keeping on top of everything. I’ve always been very organised and efficient which helps and learning effective time management and prioritisation from a young age in my schooling was very useful. By the time I was at University I had been juggling things for so long that it had become second nature!
I wasn’t really a normally student and spent a lot of time in London to and travelling to meetings etc. outside of the Oxford bubble! At the same time I was passionate about my subject and was very fortunate to have a very supportive College and tutors who appreciated the extra-curricular activities I did – this is something that Oxford isn’t always good at as a lot of tutors just want their students working and would rather they went further into academia than do other things! I also had a great circle of friends who I could trust and call on for any extra help with things whether it was Guild work or other society stuff etc.
It was very cool to be featured in international newspapers and the media etc., to named as a ‘Rising Star’ in the Gateway newspaper and in the Independent and the Telegraph, a ‘One to Watch’ by Freshminds and to win several awards and prizes. In terms of the awards, I always find these things slightly funny – it’s great to have the hard work I’ve done be recognised positively but at Oxford they would go even further and do things like annual 40 lists of the most influential or well-known students (Oxford had a big thing about “‘BNOC’ status”). It could get quite Tatler-esque/wannabe Forbes and it is amusing how they can rank people in order across different categories. Apparently I hold the record for the number of appearances in the list since they began producing these that had previously been held by Bo Guagua of all people! The student press could get quite odd and speak about personal lives and relationships in their gossip columns with cheesy puns too which all fit into the rather bizarre Oxford bubble.
It always puts a big smile on my face to speak about the Guild because of the phenomenal growth story and impact we have had in such a short space of time. We have now just completed our fourth full year since I relaunched it back in my first year and the progress has been beyond anything I had originally imagined and I am delighted to continue to be closely involved and to lead it. With over 11,000 members who are all current students (over triple the nearest competitor), over 60 sponsors (over 5 times the nearest competitor) and over 120 events a year the Guild is an enormous Oxford institution and now the biggest society not just in Oxford and the UK but also Europe. With huge amounts of funding (and watch this space for our new offices as our next big project!) the Guild is 100% nonprofit and remains free to join unlike other societies – I believe the important careers advice and services we offer should be free to all. The Guild has won 9 out of 9 national best university society awards in the past three years and has featured in over a thousand newspapers, magazines, TV and radio outlets and websites globally in over 100 countries including The Telegraph, The Independent, TIME, the BBC, the Financial Times and many more! In 2012, branching out beyond Oxford with the intention of sharing best practices and connecting with other Universities, I created the National Union of Student Business Societies (NUSBS) which is made up of the top careers societies from each of the 24 Russell Group Universities and is a network for student business societies by student business societies that is aiming to expand to other colleges and Universities beyond the Russell Group. The NUSBS supports and represents business societies to help promote careers in the business world to students and portray them in the right light at a time when they face increased scrutiny and criticism.
The Guild is widely recognised as the best university society in the UK, and at the highest level aims to improve students’ overall university experience and help them with their careers and plans for after their degrees (we worry about students’ careers so they don’t have to!). We offer members fascinating talks from high profile speakers from all fields (from business to charities to sport to music etc.) - including Kanye West in March of this year (widely described as the most oversubscribed and biggest speaker to visit in over 15 years), Zac Goldsmith, Theo Paphitis, Lord Howard, Lil Jon, Sir Victor Blank and many more. Along with connecting students with the world’s largest employers, giving them the chance to finding out about different career options and providing careers events and a wealth of resources you won’t find anywhere else including CV help, interview training and application tips, we also host the most luxurious socials and balls in Oxford giving students the chance to meet like-minded individuals from different courses, colleges and years (and potential future colleagues and business partners!). Our aim is to make every aspect of students’ lives better!
The Guild was set up from the start with the purpose of being different to other student organisations and is not just any society. You need to run the Society like a company as we are such an enormous institution which does so much good work to help our peers. We see our thousands of members as our clients, our many sponsors and partners are our shareholders, and our high quality events and services are our product offerings. We take our role and responsibility very seriously and we hope to continue to provide a stellar and highly professional service to both students and sponsors for many years to come. The other societies that had been around could not compete and either merged with us (where offered a very fair deal and kept committee members etc. without any politics) or died away. Fundamentally we have been so successful and are the best at what we do because we care more, work harder and strive to be innovative at all times, more than anyone else and this keeps us ahead of everyone in the game. How many other organisations have experienced as rapid growth as us to go from not existing four years ago to being the biggest in Europe?! Each year we continue to grow at a rapid rate and I have lots more plans as part of a long term strategy. I’m still as excited as I was when I first set it up and there are plenty more exciting innovations, speakers, events and offerings to come so watch this space!
Ultimately it was hard work (and a lot of fun at the same time!) but effective time management all comes down to being organised, planning ahead and being flexible with a schedule, prioritising things at every point. Most importantly it comes down to state of mind – if you need and want to get something done, then the brain is a powerful weapon and with sufficient willpower you find a way to make it work!
Trying to do too much can often be the downfall of many entrepreneurs. Now running two businesses, having a full time job and being CEO of an accelerator, how do you maintain focus?
I agree but I don’t feel like I am doing too much – if I ever did I would stop right away! It can be a hard slog behind the glamour associated with entrepreneurship and the world of finance and I work harder than anyone I know. With everything I do I make sure that I do it properly, otherwise there is no point. I refuse to let myself do something half-heartedly and I am very dedicated to what I do and put more effort and time in than most people would. It’s been manageable and excites me and until that changes I’ll keep at it! I’m young, full of energy and have the hunger so have been able to keep on top of it all and still have time for a good work life balance (working hard and playing hard!) and time for friends, family, my personal life etc. I am able to prioritise things effectively, plan ahead and be organised and yet remain flexible to any changes. I am able to move things around when needed and know what is most important at any time. A lot of people don’t fully appreciate in addition to the successes, the actual challenges and difficulties, breakthroughs and breakdowns and joys and frustrations of starting and of running a business, let alone more than one! With my career and life in the fast lane it can be a challenge to keep up the pace but it is one I enjoy a great deal.
It helps that I find I don’t need much sleep, am an early riser naturally, and only need 3 hours or so a night from my early teens. I am a good manager of people and try to ensure I always get the best out of them – being able to lead from the front (rather than simply telling people what to do from behind) while being part of the team is something that matters more than anything else when working with people. In terms of my leadership style I am able to motivate people, ooze passion with everything I do and get them pumped. Having charisma and being able to inspire people helps but I find that actions speak the loudest and having an energetic worth ethic, client first approach and never give up attitude drives success from your teams more effectively. I always strive to create a team working environment that is conducive to achieving successful results. I am a very loyal person and am always there to get my own hands dirty, do the grunt work without complaining and help colleagues if needs be and this is something that people will always respect. It helps massively that I have been running my businesses for several years now and have been juggling things for a while – it’s made me more efficient and things are a lot easier now that we have grown. I have a great team and business partners who are excellent at what they do and are very supportive - again this is where hiring well is so important. I must also mention my amazing PA whose help is invaluable! We have grown our brand name and size greatly and have regular clients and strong consistent revenue streams and my companies essentially now run themselves largely in terms of day to day tasks. I am able to focus on growing further, high level projects and clients and developing our overall long term strategy without having to worry about too many of the daily responsibilities which is a huge relief from when I first set my businesses up.
In terms of my full time job I’m very fortunate to be working in one of the most innovative and fastest growing areas of finance at one of the largest, most prestigious and powerful companies in the world which has its own very entrepreneurial story and which puts clients first. It is incredibly competitive to get into and requires some very specific skillsets but is truly exciting. One reason why chose it over other options was because the hours, holiday allowance and company culture (less about facetime in the office than M&A for example) also give me the flexibility to do other things around it. I strongly believe, contrary to the views of some people, that if you want to build a big successful company it helps to work at one such company beforehand and I feel that my financial knowledge and experience gives me an advantage over other entrepreneurs who just jump in and who later can at times be naïve when it comes to finances for example. The education is important and although bigger companies need more discipline and structure, there is no reason to lose the entrepreneurial streak - the very behaviours and habits that got most of these companies there in the first place. The best companies find a way of avoiding the bureaucracy trap of too much routine, set processes and complacency and if you work at somewhere like this, which I am lucky enough to, you learn a great deal each day with unparalleled resources. I have the freedom to come up with my own ideas and run with them and this chance to innovate at a firm with such influence and reach is thrilling. I have been working on several disruptive and big initiatives that I have the scope to shape and drive forward myself. The enormous resources and reach I have been provided with are the kind of things most entrepreneurs would do anything for! The flat hierarchy and collaborative culture are two very important things I try to incorporate into every organisation I am part of. I take 100% of myself to work each day and then even with my little sleep try to keep up a healthy lifestyle and mind which enables me to function at close to my very best across each day.
It is by no means easy to stay on top of things but I work so hard, never complain and get my head down and get things done. Given that things are moving very quickly in my career and life, staying focussed is important and ultimately it comes down to having the right determination and willpower.
What do you see as your biggest achievement to date?
I guess if you look at this from a business point of view monetary achievements are essentially one of the scorecards, at least on a financial level, so the first company sold (especially difficult when it is like your baby!), first million made, first ten million, some very exciting job offers, big celebratory purchases etc. could all be an answer. However, whilst this is all great obviously, I would have to say what I did at Oxford with the Guild in particular is what I am most proud of because it provided the platform for other achievements and opened up opportunities and door whilst teaching me a great deal. It was such an amazing experience and an unprecedented against the odds growth story. By managing a team of over 120 at any one time and several hundred different people in total over the years (whom I all personally interviewed and recruited) and overcoming the challenges we faced I learned more and developed more from that than from anything else and the experiences and life lessons have put me in good stead – it feels as if I’ve fit in what usually takes many people a decade to develop into more than half the time while a student! I wanted to get experience of different things including media and journalism, marketing etc. and I was able to do this all at Oxford through the large number of different things I did. This success along with the skills developed and experience gained helped me immensely with building my own companies, other achievements and also my ‘personal brand’. These foundations meant that I was able to be do other things and be invited to Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street, meet the Queen, Princes, King David Beckham (!) and the Prime Minister, win awards, be featured in and interviewed by global media in over 100 countries (everything from BBC World News and the Telegraph to TIME magazine and the Financial Times to Vice and MTV), receive amazing job offers, attract clients and raise funding more easily etc. – all things that could be classed as big achievements.
Oxford as a University can often have a lot of inertia and be stuck in its ways against change. The University has attracted some of the brightest, most successful and well known minds from all areas but very few were actually about to make a big mark on the University while studying there as it is so hard to change, even for the greatest and most famous alumni. It is truly an honour to have been actually able to shape it while I was there, to make a lasting difference that changed the status quo for the better and to leave behind a proud and important legacy. We were able to add truly meaningful value to thousands and thousands of students, both at Oxford and throughout the UK and rest of the world in more recent years following my launch of the National Union of Student Business Societies and the Guild intranet. As I mentioned earlier, the Oxford bubble can be funny with their top 40 lists of most influential students etc. but through all the different things I did at Oxford I was able to make the most of synergies, meet a huge number of people from all areas and backgrounds and also have enough weight to push for important changes at the University by influencing the outcomes of Student Union elections by backing particular candidates and causes and advising the Senior University hierarchy for example. Having worked hard to climb to the top at Oxford, something that is not easy to do, I have been able to see more than most people about how the place is run and how it all works behind the scenes with politics and conflicting interests. It’s certainly been a life experience and one I will never forget!
I was able to do and build some very cool things at Oxford both with the Guild and the many other activities I did. How many other organisations have had such quick growth to go from not existing four years ago to being the biggest in Europe?! How often do you get to host and hang out with people like Kanye West, Theo Paphitis, Zac Goldsmith, Lord Howard etc. or throw the biggest events of term for over 500 students every few weeks, put on lavish parties, balls and socials or really shape the recruitment efforts and strategies of some of the world’s largest companies while helping thousands of students with their career decisions and landing top jobs?! The impact the Guild has made and reach and influence it has are enormous and we have been able to consistently innovate, be made up of the best students and minds at Oxford and do it all with integrity and conduct ourselves professionally which is very important, especially when other organisations at Oxford had done the opposite and given both themselves and the University a bad name. The Guild, and all its subsidiaries including our own investment fund, consultancy, recruitment agency, intranet system, charitable arm, accelerator, and recently launched Oxford Finance Lab, is like a company as we are such an enormous institution which does so much good work to help our peers. We see our thousands of members as our clients, our many sponsors and partners are our shareholders, and our high quality events and services are our product offerings.
We had all this unprecedented success and growth against the very low odds and it is always funny how people who once hoped you wouldn’t be able to achieve your ambitious goals, later try to ask for help, try to get into all the events and suck up to you. Some people were doubtful, said it could never be done, that we couldn’t maintain our growth or achieve what we wanted but nothing motivates me more in the world than a challenge, underestimation and people saying that something is ‘impossible’ – there is no better feeling than proving them wrong! A lot of people do not realise, understand or appreciate the amount of hard slog that goes into providing the services and offerings they enjoy and sometimes take for granted and this is natural. It is actually not very simple and requires a lot of effort to be put in. It has been hard work and I have had to dedicate the hours and blood, sweat and tears but I have enjoyed every step of the journey which is the best part, have no regrets and would do very little differently if I could do it all again! Some of the experiences and adrenaline rushes I’ve had on the journey so far have been amazing and are feelings that I will never forget! I’ve managed to do almost everything I have wanted to do while at Oxford with all the different things I did in a large number of areas but what is most exciting is that there is so much more to come with the Guild – I had set it up from day one with a very longterm view and vision and we can go so much further in the next few years!
What has been your biggest challenge during your entrepreneurial career so far?
Building a successful organisation from scratch, first of all, is one of the most challenging things anyone can do (let alone doing it more than once!) and for me I think the biggest challenge has been once you have built and launched something to avoid complacency and getting too comfortable. It is crucial to keep innovating and keeping the intensity high rather than stagnating and just continuing to do the same thing – just look at the numerous success stories of companies such as Apple who grew at such a quick space by continuously coming up with new innovations. This is by no means easy but I find it is important to look at the bigger picture and to stay humble rather than be happy with where you are because otherwise you can never move forward. I am continuously challenging myself and am big on self-improvement and self-development. Sometimes you have to be nimble, take a step back and ‘un-learn’, think like a novice and re-evaluate to move forwards and come up with new ways of doing things. Companies, whose success largely depends on the sum total of individual contributions, should do the same and when individual behaviours change, the company culture changes. As a business becomes larger and more established, often processes and routines build up and stifle the creative habits which made the business successful in the first place. I have seen this first hand in a few companies I have worked at and it is wrong to say that big corporations have to be this way as I have also worked at large companies where this is done well by encouraging people to think creatively and to challenge the status quo bias.
This all comes down to risk taking as the easier option is usually to just continue with the routine that has worked well before. Risk-taking is almost synonymous with entrepreneurship and if you want to be a successful entrepreneur the ability and confidence to take calculated (if possible!) risks is key. This is one thing that I feel is a strength of mine as I have a never give up attitude and do not get discouraged by no’s as answer which are often the result of asking the wrong question, not providing someone with enough information or speaking to the wrong people. All the most successful entrepreneurs have had failures and rejections before and learning from them is what improves you moving forward. I find that I have steely nerves and relish pressure situations, which always motivate me, and therefore am less afraid when it comes to taking risks and taking the plunge in business and life as whole.
What is your ambition going forward?
I am hopeful that my greatest life achievements are still to come and I want to build something truly big and innovative that people use and that makes a real game-changing difference around the world - I plan to continue to work hard towards this goal! I am really enjoying the pace of my life at the moment and juggling the different things I do but I am working on stepping it up even further and as you can see I am never content to settle and strive to stay humble and always look towards the next big step and challenge rather than be complacent with where I currently am.
In the immediate term, alongside my exciting job and existing companies, which I want to continue to grow (I feel that there is room to go much further), I am working in stealth mode on building a company which has the potential to be huge. I am very excited by the possibility and have been working hard over the past few months on it with the great team I spent time putting together. Unfortunately I am not able to give away too many details right now but there are two parts to the project including an app that I had initially started working on developing a year ago and which has now grown to be part of a much bigger vision. My partners and I have spotted a significant gap in a large, fast growing market that we can provide a solution for and if we are able to do it well it could be the enormous game-changing product that I have been wanting to build. At the same time I have been working on a fascinating, innovative FinTech project in my job as part of our innovation drive that could also grow to have a significant impact in the industry.
As someone who is very well connected, particularly for my age, with a big personal network beyond just the UK that I have built up, one thing I really enjoy is matching up and connecting friends who don’t know each other but who can help each other out or who have common interests and would get on well etc. At the same time, every month I get approached by friends or friends of friends who have been put in touch who would like me to help with various ventures or directly be a business partner. There have been some exciting opportunities and whilst the ambitious voice in my head would love to get involved with them all I have had to be quite selective and have chosen a few so far including an exciting cloud-hosted 3D games and rich media adverts development platform which went through an accelerator programme, a Budapest based commercial and residential property venture and a commodities venture which is focussing on Iranian copper. This is on top of some consultancy and government based projects I have done in the past few years.
I would like to complete my CFA, continue my vision with the Oxford Guild and our subsidiaries and work towards finishing what I started to achieve the long term goal and also continue working towards developing my charitable foundation. Ultimately I enjoy doing all these things because I am a very social person who enjoys meeting different kinds of people and because I enjoy challenges and building things. I would also like to use business success to help people and make a difference at the very highest level in life. I have recently launched Ascend Africa, a charitable project I have been working on with for the past year. Ascend Africa is an education focused non-profit organisation that partners with and supports schools in a number of African countries. We provide resources such as textbooks and laptops for teachers working tirelessly to educate the next generation of African leaders, often in the context of incredible hardship and uncertainty. We are expanding our operations and will be doing some great events in London and Oxford over the coming months and hopefully can bring some innovation to donation! Following on from previous work done with 180 Degrees Consulting, the Oxford Hub, One Hour a Week and a few other charitable projects including with RAG, while at University I have been looking to build a non-profit organisation that could create a sustainable impact, particularly with regards to education and developing nations. This is something I am very passionate about and is a very worthwhile cause. Another project I am very excited about is my work with the IEA. I was delighted last month to be chosen to be President of the Institute of Economic Affairs Young Professionals Network, I on the Future.
I am introspective, am my own biggest critic and know my strengths and weaknesses very well, what I am good at and what I need to do to improve on the things I am less good at and counteract weaknesses. I used to micromanage a lot, as when you have put so much energy into growing something you want to keep doing it all yourself and not trust others to do it as well you can. With experience, I have become much better at delegating which has enabled me to do more. I do take a lot of different things on but I do this deliberately because I enjoy it and because I like to stretch myself and by being busy you need to force yourself to be good at it and find solutions and ways to stay on top of things. Having worked hard to climb to the top at Oxford, I am working on doing the same thing outside of University and School. I appear to have inherited some entrepreneurial DNA in my genes and an ability to cope with little sleep and so I want to make the most of those!
One of the first things I was taught when working in consulting was to look at the bigger picture in terms of ‘where to play and how to win’ and I strive to work hard to make any organisation I am involved with the best in its area. I am very passionate about every project I get involved with and it is a strong work ethic, lots of energy along with a never give up attitude and fierce determination helps to drive me in the search for success. My personal drive and ambition can come off as being intense or even intimidating at times along with what seems like a rather sleep deprived and busy lifestyle but I manage to stay very down to earth and am someone who is easy to work with and for. I am proud of what I have achieved so far but in terms of what I would like to do it is very much just the start and there is a great deal more I would like to do. It can be easy to forget that managing to stay on top of all the things I do and have been juggling is actually very complex and requires a large amount of effort and the hours, thought and energy to be put in. Any successes I have had so far have been the result of all this hard work and dedication alongside great support from family and friends. I get my head down and never complain, which is something that people always respect - it can be challenging at times but when you enjoy it you don’t really see it as work! I will continue to work hard, take initiative and risks whilst avoiding getting too comfortable and complacent and will strive to keep being creative and innovative. I hope to have continued success both in business and my wider life that I have been very fortunate to have been able to experience and demonstrate so far and I hope to make my mark in a significant manner on the world in the future.
Fantastic, thank you for your insight, advice and inspiration Abbas. Best of luck in your future!