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Interview

An interview with London based Asset Management & Investment expert Fahim Imam-Sadeque

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Fahim Imam-Sadeque interview

Fahim Imam-Sadeque is a business development professional with proven experience in the asset management industry. He has a Bachelor of Science in Actuarial Science from the City University of London and is a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries. Fahim’s top skills include asset management, hedge funds, investment management, sales, and consultant & client relationship management.

Fahim, Thank you for talking with us. Tell me about your best and worst days at work.

Generally, the best days are when I interact with my clients instead of dealing with administrative matters. When working with my clients as prospective investors, I am helping them solve their problems. My goal is always to be a trusted adviser to my clients because they’ll come to me when they need the products I’m selling. I try not to actively sell them; it’s always a consultative sales process. My best days are when I’m helping my clients, and as a result, they come back to me and talk about my available solutions.

Then my worst days would be when nothing seems to be going right, and nothing we are working on is achieving what we wanted to achieve. I’m sure everybody has days like that, but all I can do is just keep going and trust in my process, and trust that I’ve got a tried and tested process that will work, even when I’ve had a rotten day and I think I’ve done everything wrong. If I keep going, I will, in all likelihood, be successful again.

Who do you enjoy the most working with?

The clients I’ve enjoyed working with the most are those I built up a deep rapport with. I understand where they’re coming from, so it’s not a salesman-purchaser relationship. Instead, it’s very much a trusted adviser relationship, whereby they know that I’m selling a product that can maybe help them solve issues they face. Or they come to me because they can have an intelligent and meaningful discussion about the issues they face.

What was your biggest “aha” moment?

My “aha” moment was when I was being interviewed by my mentor Alberto Francioni back in 2004, and I’d never interviewed for a salesman position before. I thought sales was a dirty word. He explained to me that what I was describing to him in terms of my character set— I was a technical individual, but I wanted to work and talk with clients and not invest money —he said, “Well, then you have the skill set of a salesperson. Everything you described tells me that you are potentially a salesperson of technical products, and I can help train you to be that.”

Suddenly, it all made sense because I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t making progress in my existing job. I had all these skill sets, character traits, and qualifications, but I didn’t know how to put them together to find the sure-fitting role. But then he helped guide me and, in that way, I was very lucky to cross paths with him.

What has been the most important part of your professional journey?

The most fruitful part of my professional journey has been constantly trying to learn what my mentor Alberto Francioni taught me over the subsequent years. He just brought things out of me and would advise me on things after that.

After I stopped working with him later on in my career, I always heard his voice in my head. So when I see an issue, something I want to work on, I just ask, “What would Alberto tell me to do? What would his advice be?” He taught me everything about dealing with clients, managing their issues, assisting them, and moving things forward in the sales process.

The beauty of what he taught me is it’s not a static set of rules. The approach he gave me is very flexible, and it depends on each client. So it’s not one set of rules for every client; each has its own requirements. You are applying a set of principles and seeing how they fit that situation. Things won’t ever be exactly the same, but there will be things that you’ve tried in the past that may have worked in one situation and other things that may have worked in another. You can bring these principles to bear, and usually, you will find success. Not necessarily immediately, but you will make progress over time.

What are the risks associated with the alternative investment industry?

One of the risks of our industry is that the investors I deal with, the strategies they’re dealing with can be very complex. One has to be careful that one gets paid to take that complexity risk as an allocator. Also, illiquidity is another risk that people need to ensure they get paid to take on. The current geopolitical and economic environment that we face is quite unstable. So investors are very concerned when it comes to allocation decisions, potentially locking up money for 7 to 10 years. That means they have to do a lot of due diligence before investing tens or maybe hundreds of millions of dollars into a particular strategy.

What would you do with unlimited resources?

I would definitely retire for a few years, but then I’d probably get bored because I’m still relatively young, in my early 50s. My wife would want me to use my brain and not be in the house all the time. I’d probably go back to work again because I’m doing what I like. I genuinely enjoy my work. But before going back, I would take my wife around the world a couple of times and see all the places we’re planning to see because you never know when you’d get the chance to do that again.

When was the last time you totally lost yourself in doing something?

The last time I completely lost myself was when I was with my family in Antigua in the summer. That was just a great holiday. I remember sitting on the beach, and one of my sons was paddle boarding in front of me, my wife was next to me, and my other son was next to me. That was great.

What do you do when you’re not at work?

I spend time with my family. I watch sports with my younger son. My older son is 20 now, and he’s into all sorts of things I have no understanding of. However, if I’m going to find a level with him outside of “How’s your university course going?” we have to have something to talk about so I make an effort to take an interest in what he’s interested in. I’d just like to stay on top of what my kids are up to and spend time with my family.

How do you feel you make a difference in the world?

Well, I hope I have made a difference. I don’t know if I have. I believe in something bigger than us. I’m a person of faith, so I just try to live my life every day as well as I can, and if that makes a difference, that’s great. I’ll always keep trying, but we don’t need to make a difference in life, in my opinion. You just need to try and live a good life and do the best you can every day. That’s all that matters.

Catherine is a passionate home design consultant from Melbourne. She loves making homes beautiful and buildings sustainable, but she also like sharing her advice and knowledge with people. That is why she is also a regular contributor to the Smoothdecorator blog. Besides all this, she loves reading and enjoys a superhero movie from time to time.

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Interview

An Interview with Miami based Marketing & Communications Expert Julian Narchet

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Julian Narchet interview timesofstartups

Julian Narchet is a marketing and mass communications professional, and a Communications Manager at the University of Miami. He has extensive experience in customer service, market research, academic research, research administration, social media, public relations, and event management. He is passionate about making a difference in the lives of others through cooperation with non-profits and healthcare organizations.

Julian, Thank you for doing this. Tell me about your best and worst days at work.

My best days involve seeing my work come to life, whether in the form of content going live or speaking to a new group about the research project I work on and getting immediate interest and sign-ups from new participants. In marketing/communications, a lot of work can sometimes go unnoticed, so it is always great to see an impact. There aren’t many bad days, but I would say those involve getting bogged down by multiple projects, poor results from a recent campaign, or rapidly approaching deadlines. However, I feel there is always a light at the end of the tunnel with those days because with those deadlines comes a new opportunity to see my work in action again.

What are the projects that you most enjoy working on?

I work as a Communications Manager for the All of Us Research Program in my current role. I really enjoy speaking engagements with audiences and sparking their interest in the research program. Our research program aims to push healthcare forward for generations to come, so it is great to see people get involved and truly contribute to the future of healthcare.

What was the biggest ‘a-ha’ moment in your career?

In my career, my biggest a-ha moment was realizing my passion for the healthcare industry. Over the years, from interning at a hospital system to a public relations agency to now joining the University of Miami, I continually stepped further into the healthcare realm and increasingly became happier with my work.

What has been the most important part of your professional journey?

The most important part for me was realizing how much relationships matter. Whether the relationships are with clients, partners, coworkers, or managers, I believe having a strong relationship with those around you makes work more enjoyable and easier. It’s always great when I can pick up the phone and call someone in a department I rarely work with, but we already have a rapport, and we are happy to help each other out with whatever the issue may be.

What risks is your industry facing?

An obvious threat to the healthcare industry is the current pandemic we all face, COVID-19. The rampant spread of COVID has forced us to stop seeing research participants on-site at times which greatly hinders the research program for short periods of time. I believe COVID has also created or added to the distrust that some have for the healthcare industry as a whole. We have to work to earn the community’s trust and show that those who work in healthcare genuinely have their best interests at heart.

What would you do with unlimited resources?

Two causes that mean a lot to me are making healthcare and education available to everyone. With unlimited resources, it would be great to find a way to make high-quality and safe environments available to people from all walks of life where they can get a great education or the healthcare they may need.

When was the last time you totally lost yourself in doing something?

Occasionally that will happen with my work, and I need to remind myself to take a break or call it a day. As I’m sure many others can relate to, working from home has been an adjustment. I have personally embraced it, but I also have to remind myself that I don’t have to start working the second I wake up, I can take lunch breaks longer than 15 minutes, and that I don’t have to work all these extra hours just because I’m home and I feel that “I might as well.” It’s easy to assume that working from home can lead to a lack of productiveness but for some like myself, it’s important to remind yourself to take breaks and call it a day at an appropriate time.

What do you do when you’re not at work?

When I am not working, some of my interests include watching sports, movies, exercising, or gaming. I am a big soccer and football fan and somewhat of a movie buff. I am always interested in watching a good new movie or re-watching an old favorite.

How do you feel you make a difference in the world?

I feel lucky to be in my current role as part of a research program truly aiming to change the future of healthcare. Raising awareness and spreading the word about the All of Us Research Program is extremely rewarding. Every research participant who signs up contributes to a better future for healthcare where treatment can be tailored to each individual. This tailored approach can lead to better outcomes for patients from all walks of life in the future. It’s gratifying to contribute to this unique research program that will genuinely make a difference in the world and the future of healthcare.

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Interview

An Interview with Paulette Chaffee

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Paulette Chaffee Intrerview times of startups

Paulette Chaffee is a teacher, speech therapist, and attorney deeply involved in the Fullerton community. As an educator and member of various non-profit boards, her focus has always been on providing children with the highest quality education. Ms. Chaffee holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Redlands, a California Lifetime Teaching Credential, and is admitted to the California Bar.

Paulette, Thank you for talking with us. In what ways can a school support a student struggling with mental illness?

There are so many ways schools can support their students. On the ground level, educators should know the warning signs of mental health problems, and there should be a set chain of command of who to inform and what resources are available. In addition, teachers should promote healthy social and emotional development and recognize students who are at risk.

Schools need to create a positive and safe environment; this includes encouraging students to be active and help one another. Finally, there must be increased awareness and education on all levels. Developing and implementing school-based mental health programs is essential while also providing counseling. If a child needs additional assistance, parents should be informed that 504 plans and IEPs (individualized education programs) are available.

How has the spread of the recent Omicron COVID variant affected students, teachers, parents, and other staff?

For a brief time, students and teachers returned to in-person learning; however, the rise in cases due to Omicron has forced many school districts to consider returning to online learning. The schools that want to stay open have difficulty keeping sufficient staff. And although it may seem like online learning is a simple solution, it is more complicated than that. Parents have to make adjustments to their work schedules and childcare. There are concerns of more significant educational disparities when remote. On top of that, many students are falling behind academically, and there has been an increase in emotional and behavioral issues. Many students need the balance of education and extracurriculars like sports, which has become challenging to maintain.

The pandemic has shown us how quickly we can be in the middle of a crisis. What should schools do to prepare for crises that may arise in the future?

The first thing should be to create a crisis response team that responds to major events. This team should create a crisis response plan that outlines who is in the response team and their responsibilities. In addition, it should include protocols on what to do for unique situations and natural disasters. The last part of this plan should consist of how to communicate with outside sources; this includes media, parents, and the community. There should be plans and processes on every level, including school, district, and regional.

How can transparency be created when discussing education budgets with the public?

Implementing a SBB (student-based budgeting) funding system is the first step. It goes by many different names, but this type of funding system is one where the dollars are based on student needs. This type of budgeting relies on three pillars: equity, transparency, and flexibility. To create transparency, it’s crucial that the public has access to the budget and reports and that there are standards in place to maintain the integrity of these documents. In addition, allowing the community to participate in the process creates trust and inclusiveness. When the general public feels like they know what is happening, it can generate quality and accountability in school budgeting.

How can the community get involved in budget decision-making, and how can school districts make this accessible?

Develop a process that allows everyone to be heard before making a major decision. Having open forums for the public to attend to ask questions and voice concerns can be one way of doing this. Also, make an online survey available to give feedback and quick input for the people who cannot participate in a forum. Make sure when developing the budget and other accompanying documents and reports they are “public friendly” and easy to understand. School staff must be prioritized in budget discussions and district communications as many students and parents will likely get their information from staff.

There are a variety of hardships and disparities a student can face. What can schools do to ensure there are resources and support systems for these students to improve equity and inclusion? Should there be resources for parents as well?

There are endless things a school can do to improve equity and inclusion. Start with increasing staff training and reviewing the hiring process to allow equity and inclusion to start at the top with a more diverse staff. In addition, changing procedures is essential, such as eliminating 0s for late work or removing more challenging prerequisites for AP and Honors. More often than not, these procedures adversely impact and create barriers for disadvantaged students to succeed.

On that same note, reviewing the curriculum and making sure it is accessible is critical. Speaking with the students can help schools identify what they need and gaps. This also means identifying and providing systematic help to those falling behind to prevent grade repetition.

Finally, parents and families should be resources because students’ education doesn’t stop when they leave school. Therefore, there needs to be a strong link between home and school, and support should be provided to families who need additional assistance. Also, family engagement should be encouraged and provide ways to close the gap for parents struggling to help their children at home.

Is it essential to provide implicit bias training to teachers and administrators? Could you expand on that?

Yes, but it can’t simply be one session. A school needs to have an overarching plan, and implicit bias training should be integrated. It should review policies, practices, and structures and work to make them as unbiased as possible. There should be reasonable and attainable goals set to address needs and problems and active changes made to reach them. One of the most important things to note in the training is that discussions about bias are difficult for everyone. Provide the tools on how to handle these conversations and manage emotions. This plan also needs to have specified training for teachers, guidance counselors, security, etc.

What are the biggest accessibility challenges you see schools facing, i.e., transportation, access to the internet and technology, etc.?

Concerning transportation, this is where I see some of the most significant challenges. It becomes a complex regulatory landscape for drivers to function between federal and state laws. Funding has been relatively stagnant, which creates various issues. One is environmental harm and safety due to not updating buses and outdated technology. Also, so many more school choices and students not going to their zone schools have created the need for a new bus system. However, lack of funding slows this necessity down. With COVID, there are additional safety, staffing, and funding issues to consider.

Regarding the internet and technology, budget limitations lead to outdated network infrastructures and unreliable or outdated software and devices. As a result, there is a resistance to this change by teachers and typically a lack of training. In addition, there usually needs to be an updated curriculum that integrates these technologies.

Students with disabilities struggle with unique accessibility issues. Physical inaccessibility in schools can make it difficult for students to get around. It isn’t uncommon for there to be a lack of individualization and specialists. Unfortunately, disabilities come with stereotypes and biases from students and staff. Typically, a student must request accommodations, which can be slow, including the dispute process.

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Interview

An Interview with Steve Sasson, Inventor of the Digital Camera

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Steve Sasson changed the way we capture memories when he invented the digital camera in the 1970s. The popular technology speaker believes that every workplace should invest in its inventors and innovators, and the only way to disrupt your industry is to experiment – even if that tempts failure. In this exclusive interview for Times of Startups, Steve reflected on his experience at Kodak and offered advice for the inventors of the future.

In the workplace, why should business leaders allow for experimentation and inventing?

“If you’re leading some sort of corporate entity or something, not only should you allow it, but you should also encourage it, because what do you think your competition is doing?

“It’s the lifeblood of the future of a company, you know? And so most companies, they’ll basically say they really like experimentation, they like innovation, until it happens to them and then it becomes a challenge to them rather than an opportunity. And I think that’s the danger sometimes.

“You should definitely encourage that in your organisation, discuss it and make it part of your everyday. Not an unusual thing, it should be part of the everyday discussions. And it doesn’t have to come from a research laboratory! It’s basically people challenging the established processes in order to see something new, and you’ll see a lot of failures.

“You’ve got to basically celebrate the failures a little bit, say, ‘listen, we didn’t succeed here, but we did learn the following and that’s a success’. So I think we have to make innovation and experimentation more an everyday, ordinary thing as opposed to some exceptional event.”

Having disrupted the photography industry with your digital camera, why should businesses strive to disrupt their own markets?

“I will tell you that digital photography was something that occupied me and a number of people at Kodak for well over three decades before it happened.

“In the case of photography, it was a technological revolution that took place – silicon technology, light and digital technology came together and offered another pathway. And by the way, that pathway was well known and practised by a whole bunch of other companies that never considered photography as part of their business. You know, the Sony Corporation wasn’t considered a photographic company back in 1980, for example.

“You have to constantly think about how you can disrupt, how your business could be disrupted and how you can anticipate that. You know, the old expression, ‘only the paranoid survive’, I think is very, very apt. I don’t know if you have to be paranoid – in the case of Kodak, I think a little bit more paranoia would have been helpful, but it would have been pretty trying to exist in a paranoid state for 30 years.

“You should be the devil’s advocate, try to disrupt your business and have real honest conversations and empower the change agents within your organisation to make powerful arguments. Lots of times that change comes in and says, ‘hey, we could do it differently’, and they’ll say, ‘yeah, well, we don’t want to do it this way’. We had that.

“I had that argument for many decades with Kodak. You know, ‘why would anybody want to look at that picture or a television set? Prints, people love prints. People have been doing prints for a hundred years, what do you have that says that they don’t want prints?’

“[I would say] ‘OK, well, tell me the two or three things that would change your mind about this. If this was developed, if that was developed, if the cost of this got down to that point, then would you consider it’. Then you get down to the specific breakthroughs that might change their mind.

“You’ve got to empower people who think differently and give them a chance to have really valid arguments.”

What advice do you have for the inventors of the future?

“Start now. Don’t be afraid of failure, failure teaches you a lot. I got very comfortable being wrong, I know it’s a sad thing, but get comfortable being wrong because you’ll learn a lot. And then you do your calculations, do your experiment, and all of a sudden you see something you never expected. And that is kind of thrilling to me.

“You know, it humbles you and excites you at the same time. I don’t worry much about reputation, and I recommend you don’t do either – start young when you don’t have a reputation. And then if you’re old and you have a reputation, put it on the shelf and use it when you can.

“There’s a lot going on. Things move faster than ever before. Innovators, just be curious, be comfortable with failures, learn from them and just keep going forward.”

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