ALumnUS OF THE MONTH -  SEPTEMBER 2021

BASIT MAHMOOD, MSC/PGDIP CORPORATE GOVERNANCE, 2019

Dr. Maitreyee Dey

 

“I moved to the UK from Karachi in 2004. I have had various jobs including Executive Assistant, Retail Manager, Project Manager but I always had a deep interest in law. Continued progression is very important in these ever-changing times, so I was looking for a course that not only reflected my interest in law but also complemented my years in administrative management and I was then introduced to Corporate Governance at London South Bank University (LSBU), which is the only University in London to offer this degree ticking all the boxes such as a professional degree allowing chartered status, authorised by Chartered Governance Institute with a globally recognised university. 

My early education was in Pakistan and by the time I joined LSBU as a mature student I had a considerable gap which I found challenging as after spending years in the business motivated world your attitude, practices and understanding is very different to rather theoretical dialogues.

My experience at LSBU was incredible, my fellow classmates were diverse, with a mixture of experience levels in various fields so the discussions were always full on, so much so that even challenged the teachers. I must admit a lot of value was added by this wide range of students and good teachers. A teacher who stands out from the crowd of good ones is our professor for Strategy, Uly Ma. Uly is an incredible person who is committed to helping every student to be their best, he had the most flexible approach, was available to listen and provide catered feedback. He is truly a master of strategy and throughout his time, I did not find a single student who felt isolated in his class.

When I started LSBU I thought I had it all planned out, that’s why left my job to fully commit to studies, but soon after my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and I had to move her in with me to be able to look after her full-time. The year was an emotional roller-coaster. I started taking her to chemotherapy, but watching her condition deteriorate was heart-breaking. It was emotionally and physically draining. This extra pressure did affect my studies and I couldn’t prepare as best I could, and I must admit at one point I even thought about quitting the studies but glad I managed to continue. Stress has not been something I’ve had to grapple with in my life but when my mum was going through surgery I did feel helpless, it was stressful, and talking therapy was recommended to me to help deal with that.

I graduated in 2019 and was fortunate to join a great Company Secretariat team at John Lewis. As it was a career change from Administrative Management to Corporate Governance, I had to take a step back and take on a junior role on a maternity contract for 20 months. In January 2021, with further career progression, I then joined Qualis Group for a short period of time and recently have been offered a role at Habib Bank UK as Assistant Company Secretary.

Thinking of influences on my personal and professional life, although I learn from every person I meet, personally I feel my Father and my son had the biggest impact on shaping what I am today. My Grandfather was one of the well-known chartered accountants in London of his time and when India and Pakistan partitioned, he moved to Pakistan and helped to shape accountancy standards. My father was a doctor who started a free Surgery in Pakistan for people who couldn’t afford expensive medical treatment, and now my son who is 1 years old is helping me to think about how I can be a role model for future generations as my Father and Grandfather have been to me. None of it of course would be possible without my mother and wife who joined hands and made it all happen.

When I reflect on my career journey, I feel there could have been more professional career guidance. I started off with a different route and then moved to another and then perhaps mentally matured so had a final go and now doing what I feel I could have been doing all along and I feel the journey would have been easy if I understood the routes and options available. My recent experience at university with other students does confirm these thoughts. It is always said that you should do the things you enjoy and that’s what I was missing. Thanks to my degree I am now content in my day-to-day and on a career path I enjoy. Considering the current situation with lockdown and working from home your mental health is so important. Being isolated and doing things you don’t like and being unhappy is not good for both personal and mental health. I ask people to spare time to reach out to other people and stay connected.

In my own time, I volunteer and that keeps me going. I try to spend time assisting people around me whether it be with consumer issues or elderly with basic computing skills or just spare some time for a cup of coffee. My motivation is to make sure I can help the people around me. Using my time to contribute positively to people’s lives brings me a lot of personal satisfaction. I’ve learned we all need help with different things, we can’t do everything ourselves we all need support. Since lockdown I know it is difficult and the isolation takes its toll. So, I’ve created a contact list to text people to see if they are ok, it helps them and me at the same time.

I am very keen on providing mentoring and counselling support to students to help them on their journey. I value the presence of someone who can support and guide you. In my opinion the key to a good start and continued stable journey is to have 2 mentors (1) a personal and (2) professional. That should give you the confidence and understanding needed to take you places. I’ve had several students contacted me on LinkedIn who I now mentor and guide to help with options, career and education routes available and what they can do before they reach university. I’m happy to share my thoughts and experience.

My advice to anyone is; network, and it’s never too late to seek career counselling. Students must think beyond their studies, prepare for their careers and future. The more you prepare the better chance you have at being successful. Commitment, Patience and Perseverance is a mighty combination we all need.

I want to be remembered as someone who has always tried to do things better, progressing personally and professionally day by day, providing help and support in any way I can."

Basit


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