The Financial Express

Specialised skills lead to better career prospects

Md Zarif Tajwar Shihab | Published: March 12, 2020 01:11:42 | Updated: March 16, 2020 15:42:12

Abu Noyem Md Khasru Abu Noyem Md Khasru

Abu Noyem Md Khasru is a decorated CFO (chief financial officer) with several professional degrees and a long tenure of experience in multinational banks. He obtained MCom from Department of Accounting at Chattogram University. He is an FCMA (UK), CGMA, FCPA, FIFC, FCGA, DAIBB and LLB. He began his 30-year long career in American Express Bank as an import and export officer.  He has been working in finance for the last 22 years including 10 years as a CFO. He served as the head of accounting for Credit Agricole Indosuez and the Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC. Currently, he is the Country Finance Head of Bank Alfalah Limited - a UAE-based bank owned by the Abu Dhabi Group and IFC.

 Md Zarif Tajwar Shihab interviewed Abu Noyem Md Khasru to know his career in details.

Question (Q): What are some of the major challenges you faced in your career?

Answer (A): People may find different aspects of their job challenging. For me the major difficulty was to find myself in the wrong role which bred the feeling of being stuck. However, this is comparatively easier to deal with as switching roles or jobs altogether is an option. Then there was the challenge of promotion, primarily due to the limited scope within a small organisation. The beauty of a small organisation was that I could learn a lot by multitasking but getting a promotion was difficult. Foreign banks normally have a limited branch network, so, it was also difficult for me to change the role or move to another branch.

Some perpetual challenges in a corporate career will obviously be the long working hours and the fact that you will be overworked for the most part. And of course, dealing with change when changing roles or jobs or even on-boarding a new employee into the team.

Q: What were the reasons for you to switch jobs?

 A: The foremost reason for switching jobs was better career prospects. Self-development  was always a priority, so whenever I saw an opportunity for professional growth I took it. Personally I always look for new challenges at work and I switch when I fail to find any in my current role.

I also switched jobs when my company was taken over by another, consequently reducing my duties.

Q: Is there any particular productive habit that you maintained throughout your professional life?

A: Actually I maintained a few. I am a big believer in prioritising tasks and then focusing on them based on relative importance. Besides this, I do not bog my head with a multitude of decisions and delegate and out-source when needed. Having to make fewer decisions helps make better decisions. And I always start the day with the most difficult task at hand. And I try to utilise every hour of the day and not leave any task for later, that could have been completed. And in order to stay updated I continuously read relevant material. Phone calls, and not emails, are my go to mode of communication to get things done faster. And I have always tried to embrace change and accepted it as the only constant.

There are also a few habits I maintain when it comes to dealing with people. I treat employees the way I want to be treated.  And as I mentioned before, I provide freedom and delegate tasks to team members. Rapport is critical to be maintained with regulators and also colleagues.

Q: You have multiple professional qualifications, how did each of those propel your career?

A: I believe the quote of Albert Einstien "Once you stop learning, you start dying". There is no alternative to the continuous learning and self-development. The world is changing fast as the business requirements are changing, new things are coming, and some old things are disappearing. We must embrace the changes. So, I believe that we must gain contemporary knowledge on the changes. Those who do not evolve will be left behind and will be difficult to sustain. You have observed that earlier very few people used to take additional degrees after graduation or post graduation, but now-a-days everyone tries to take professional degrees. I know a student who has qualified two professional accounting degrees even before starting his career. This is because of competition in the professional field.

There is also a challenge to retain the present position until you have the relevant professional degrees matched with that position. With the promotion of higher grade, you also need to upgrade yourself. So, I took multiple professional qualifications and those degrees helped me a lot to propel my career i.e. to get promotion in the same organisation and to get offer in higher position in other organisation.

I feel sometimes additional degrees are required to retain the position.     

Q: What are the major skills you mastered working in multinational banks for such a long time and which of those skills do you value most?

A: Throughout my career I have gained a lot of technical skills. Control compliance, planning, budgeting, forecasting, treasury functions, working capital management, monitoring bank covenants, implementation of accounting systems, processes, tools and controls, maintaining a strong financial control environment, ensuring adherence to global standards as well as local statutes, tax compliance and regulations are some of the technical abilities in my arsenal.

Currently I am a strategic business partner involved in making key decisions. Hence besides technical ability, I find that the leadership and problem solving skills I developed are critical. Maintaining clear communications, ensuring cohesion within a team and upholding teamwork are also very important. I believe that all these skills are necessary for one to be a good professional.

The interviewer is a third year student of BBA programme at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), University of Dhaka. He can be reached at zariftajwar4@gmail.com

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