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Management meets Ali Kazimi

1992 BSc Business (then known as BSc Business Administration) alumnus, Ali Kazimi talks about the importance of inclusion in the workplace.

Ali Kazimi headshot, wearing a suit against a black background
Ali is a Class of 1992 BSc Business alumnus, then known as BSc Business Administration

I chose to study at the University of Bath, School of Management because Bath is a lovely city and the School has an incredible placement programme.

Bath gave me experiences that built my confidence, teaching me to be bold and courageous.

My placements were at a global bank and a large accountancy firm. These made me much more marketable to firms when I graduated, because I already had extensive work experience compared to others in the same position. After graduating, I got on to a graduate accountancy programme; three years later I became a chartered accountant.

Early in my career, an opportunity presented itself - I was made Head of Investment and Operational tax at Black Rock, the world's largest asset manager. I was pinching myself. That opportunity completely transformed my career.

After a while, I went back into accounting, as International Tax Services Leader for Deloitte’s Middle East practice. It was such fun, making such high-power decisions and travelling nonstop. After four incredible years and now with a young family, I decided it was time for something more settled.

'Starting my career in the 90s as a British-Asian wasn’t easy'

I came back to London and developed my current firm, Hansuke. Here, we’re all about focusing on relationships, serving clients with professionalism and integrity.

Although I had a good upbringing and climbed the ladder quickly, starting my career in the 90s as a British-Asian wasn’t easy. The general attitude then was different - people would say things unacceptable now. I was victim to a form of racism seen as ‘banter’.

Everyone knew it was happening, but nobody called it out because it was part of the culture. You didn't want to be an outsider. Differences were frowned upon and laughed at. Even now, you see people with an Asian background with anglicised names because they don't want to be different.

Throughout my education, I found that if someone really believes in you and is willing to invest time to bring out the best in you, you realise your true potential.

'To help unlock someone’s potential is teaching them their ambition'

Business leaders have the platform to ensure people feel welcome, supported and encouraged to do this. Years from now people will look back, like we do, and be shocked today’s culture was the ‘norm’.

It’s easy to write people off and say they lack motivation, but the question is, has an environment been created where they can see a future?

Hansuke is a training office of the Institute of Chartered Accountants. It’s an honour that young people leaving university put their trust in us to develop their careers. For Hansuke to achieve its full potential, we need people who feel empowered, are driven and have a safe environment to try new things.

Talking very philosophically, ambition is a life force, everyone has something unique. To help unlock someone’s potential is teaching them their ambition.

Ali features in the Management Meets podcast

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