This blog is part of the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce’s (ABCC) Diversity in Leadership campaign.
The Diversity in Leadership campaign works with some of the regions’ biggest employers in order to boost the numbers of women and those from black and minority ethnic (BAME), lesbian gay bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and disability groups being represented on boards of directors and in leadership roles.
Click here to find out more about the campaign
In this blog, Saira Hussain, a senior in the external audit department, explains why she chose her career as an accountant, her views on leadership and who has contributed to her development.
Tell us about your career – what do you do?
I started with Mazars when I was 18 as a school leaver. I am currently a senior in the external audit department in Birmingham and have been with the team for nearly five years.
This involves travelling around the UK visiting clients’ sites with different members of the audit team. I have found audit provides a natural progression through the years and a sense of responsibility, given the role is client facing right from the start.
Why did you choose your career?
I couldn’t have predicted accounting, I studied sciences and mathematics at college. It just so happened the accounting class was next to mine and from this, I managed to get a placement at an accountancy firm for a few weeks.
From discussions with various people, I then decided to apply to Mazars. Before this, I didn’t know a school leaver programme existed as University seemed to be the only option. As my family were very supportive, I never felt the pressure to limit my options to only University which allowed me to explore the school leaver route.
What people have contributed most to your development?
Within my first weeks, I was out onsite at one of our biggest clients and at first had no idea what I was doing. I wanted to take my place at University and take the ‘normal’ route I had always planned to. However, my appraising manager at Mazars was great and told me to hang in there and that it would all get better, which it did!
My second appraising manager at Mazars also contributed significantly to my development. He always challenged me, gave me more opportunities and never put a limit on what I could do. He also showed appreciation for the work I did as well as keeping me calm during the exam seasons.
What’s one leadership lesson you’ve learned in your career?
The main thing I have taken from my managers is to give recognition where due and development points where needed. It always made me more motivated and willing to go beyond for whoever I worked for while development points give me objectives to achieve.
When things get tough, how do you keep yourself going?
Food. I am sure anyone in audit (or those who know me) will understand.
My manager also drilled into me the attitude of ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’ and this usually puts everything into perspective.
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