Three minutes with… Safwan Chowdhury
Congratulations to Safwan Chowdhury, Corporate Finance M&A Assistant Manager, who has been shortlisted as a finalist for the 2020 BAME Apprenticeship Awards in the accounting & finance category. He talks to us about how his career propelled since his apprenticeship, what a great leader means to him and the most valuable advice he’s received.
If I were to describe my role to a six-year-old I’d say, I help people sell their business, so that they can make a lot of money, after working very hard over their life.
What gets me out of bed in the morning is knowing that sleeping won’t change your dreams into reality.
To me, a great leader is a visionary who not only leads the team to achieve their goal but also ensures that everyone achieves their individual goals along the way.
What I love most about my job is the value that we add for our clients. Most of our clients are entrepreneurs who have built a business and are now looking at opportunities to capitalise on their life’s work. We present them with a range of options and guide them through a process to maximise the value of their business, which is extremely rewarding.
My biggest achievement to date has been completing my ACA qualification at the age of 22, as it has resulted in fast track promotion. This made me amongst the youngest assistant managers at my previous employer, consolidated my career and opened further doors to join the corporate finance team as an assistant manager at Grant Thornton.
I was encouraged by my mentors and friends to apply for the BAME apprenticeship award in recognition of the successes I’d had during my career and my work as an apprenticeships ambassador. Since completing my apprenticeship, I’ve remained active in combatting the negative stigma students, parents and teachers have on apprenticeships, especially within the BAME community.
The BAME Apprenticeship Awards celebrate the successes of young people in BAME communities to help them gain the recognition they deserve and provide a platform to share their stories, as well as promote their significant involvement in the workplace. They also showcase the talent and diversity among British BAME apprentices, their employers and learning providers. As a finalist (or possible winner), I hope to continue to raise the profile of apprenticeships and help others by sharing my personal journey.
I was over the moon when it was announced I was a finalist for the award. This is quite personal to me because when I started the apprenticeship in 2014, I faced a lot of external pressures and challenges which I had to overcome, including being belittled by relatives due to the social stigma attached to apprenticeships. Fast forward six years and I’ve been nominated amongst many other successful apprentices, which I see as testament to how well apprenticeships do work and are valued by employers.
The one piece of advice I would give to new graduates and apprentices starting their career is: The only way to grow is by stepping out of your comfort zone and grabbing the opportunities as they come, or by creating new ones. So, take on a new challenge each day and don’t be ashamed or afraid to ask for help.
My idea of fun has changed during lockdown (as with many others), from relaxing at home and watching Netflix to simply leaving the house for a nice meal.
Last time I laughed was after mocking my youngest sister for the way she pronounced a word – half an hour later I realised that she was pronouncing it correctly and I was wrong...I doubt she’s going to let it go anytime soon.
Work-life balance is different to everyone and not set in stone, but changes on a weekly or even daily basis. It is an agreement I have with my myself to set boundaries and follow a set of rules, to ensure it does not impact my mental health, and that of those around me.
The best piece of advice I received is from my parents who taught me that no matter how successful you become, always remember your humble beginnings and the struggles you went through. There are many others who are going through worse battles, so empathise with them and help them as much as you can.
My life in 10 words… Never give up even in times when people doubt you.
About the Grant Thornton School Leaver Programme:
Our firm’s school leaver programme sees joiners partake in five years of study whilst gaining invaluable real-life experience in either audit, tax or advisory, working with other companies across different sectors in industry.
Applicants can join straight from school, and anyone who joins straight after A-levels could qualify a year ahead of their peers who have studied at university.