My late grandfather was a chartered accountant in Pakistan, where I grew up. I admired him greatly and always wanted to follow in his footsteps.
After whetting my appetite for finance at a steel company in Islamabad, I started my career as an auditor at PwC, where I learnt the building blocks of the profession.
When I moved to Bahrain to a role in the transaction advisory practice at EY, I really began to develop as a professional. I found transaction advisory exciting and stayed with EY for six years. Then, after working on the IPO of a telecom operator, I was offered a role at the Bahrain arm of Kuwaiti mobile telecoms company Zain.
I enjoyed working with the two Big Four firms but I was being presented with an opportunity to create a professional niche, so I accepted. As head of budgeting and reporting, I gained considerable industry expertise – and promotion to head of financial operations.
I facilitated a tripling in the size of my organisation to US$100m through the acquisition of a much larger rival
In August 2020, I was headhunted for the group CFO role at Kalaam Telecom. My distinct skillset and industry experience helped me stand out over experienced CFO candidates at interview. Since joining Kalaam, I have facilitated a tripling in the size of the organisation to US$100m through the acquisition of Zajil Telecom, which will help us strengthen our market position.
I have also gained experience in management of group HR, legal, regulatory and admin functions, which has added new dimensions to my career. We are currently setting up a data analytics function, which will enhance the role of finance.
Covid-19 lockdowns busted a myth in relation to remote working and provided a solid push for digitisation. Many people are actually more productive when working from home. On the flip side, the pandemic has demotivated people because they aren’t able to travel, the routine is monotonous and they miss the fun at work. However, organising virtual events, coaching sessions and a phased return to work for vaccinated staff is helping us to get back to normal.
If I had the power, I would have ensured companies were better prepared for IFRS 15. I would have delayed rollout of the standard until enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems had received an ‘approved’ status from the International Accounting Standards Board in collaboration with the Big Four firms.
I enjoy adding value to strategic objectives, sharing my knowledge and brainstorming new ideas with employees, as well as the new learning opportunities the role presents. For sure, my biggest achievement is facilitating the acquisition of a company three times the size of my own, and arranging both equity investors and debt providers in a timely manner.
If not an accountant, I would have trained to be a corporate lawyer.
In my spare time I like to socialise and play golf.