Muhammad Basheer Juma- Journey from Cashier Cum Typist To Managing Partner Of EY
Born in 1953, I belong to Memon family ,who migrated from Junagadh state of India in 1951. We Lived in Chakiwada- Lyari. I am a product of the poorest area of Karachi, Pakistan. I did my Metric from Madressa Islamia Secondary School-Kharadar and Intermediate and Graduation from Government College of Commerce and Economics.
Started my career from Dawood Group (now Hussain Dawood Group) of Companies as a Cashier cum typist at Rs. 250 per month.
At that time i could not make Bank Reconciliation Statement & my boss helped me to complete it.
That inspired me about the accounting profession and morally what the statement was.
It was “Reconciliation”. Identification of differences and agreement of disagreement and way forward.
During college life i was actively engaged in college politics, social and welfare activities, and extra-curriculum activities and became Vice President of Islamic Society of the college and initiated various type of lectures on Islamic System also remain personal advisor to various election candidates of the college and wrote speeches for them. I participated in various speech contests in Karachi and won one of the Quiz Champion of the College and participated inter-college quiz competition.
I also contributed articles to College magazines and Daily Jang. Ultimately became a writer of self-management book which has been translated into six languages included Highway to Success which is free downloadable. The Urdu edition has been sold more than 100,000 copies.
While in college, I could not think about going abroad for higher education due to circumstances.When I graduated, I wanted to join IBA or ICMA but could not afford fees. Therefore i continued working in Dawood Group.
I got offer from Alexzander Fletcher Ferguson & Co (AFF) to join from the next day and it was not possible for me to immediately join them as I had a commitment with Dawood Group to give one month’s notice. I knew that I was at the top because of my general knowledge.This decision not to betray my first employer has given me significant courage in my future life.
Then i joined Ford Rhodes Robson Morrow (FRRM) after there for four months i was posted in SITE-Shershah. Used to spend 25 paisas to reach from Light House to Shershah and then walk for around two miles to save 10 paisas. During this period stipend was Rs 75 per month. I had responsibility to take care of my mother and live in a small room to room flat.To meet the monthly expenditure of Rs 200 per month taught tuitions for Rs 50 per month the balance was footed through the gratuity amount of Rs 800/- received from Dawood Group.
In August 1974 i again applied at AFF. Mr. Najmul Islam Chaudri had interviewed me.
“During interview i was told that since I did not join them previously so they can not accept my application. I replied that if i am not selected this time i will apply again. He asked what if they reject me 100 times , i replied then i will apply 101 times. Again he asked what if AFF does not offer even then. I replied that I will sit in front of the AFF office from morning till evening.”
Based on my determination, I was appointed as an audit clerk (five years at that time).
After joining AFF, I worked extremely hard. Used to buy scrapped paper (Raddi) at Rs. 2/ per kg from Light House and used to make notes on the other side of the scrapped papers. Noted all work programs and approaches and had made four files of the Financial Statement Segments.
At that time, AFF C Section had a tradition of organizing farewell parties regularly. Initially, I did not attend and then my colleagues came to know the reason. At that time, the contribution of these parties was Rs 20/- only and my seniors use to do it on my behalf. Allah bless all of them.
Farid Khan-Shah Baba was a unique type of partner. I had the opportunity to work for him and learn from him. He liked my flow charts, work programs, and creative type of working papers and relied upon me a lot. The trust level was extremely high. Anything described as impossible was used to be delegated to me and with Allah’s blessing it used to be more than their expectation.
In 1981, I got an offer of a job from PIAC. I asked Mr. Abdul Hafeez (typist) to type my resignation letter. Somehow, Mr. Najam Chaudri came to know and called me the reason. One reason was that I was handling most of the Government jobs. He agreed to shift that. The other reason was that I did not become a member of the Provident Fund because at that time investment was made in interest generating government securities. Chaudri Saheb discussed with Mr. Khalil Mian-the Senior Partner and informed me that the AFF contribution to the PF will be given to me in the form of gratuity.
“It was great for me. In 1986, the firm paid me Rs. 55,000/- that was sufficient to foot my Valima’s bill.”
In 1985, Mr. Ebrahim Sidat and Syed Naseemuddin Hyder through Shaikh Muhammad Shafi asked me to join Sidat Hyder. But I did not. Then again in the latter part of the year, he convinced me, and I agreed. Then I resigned from AFF. At that time Mr. Khalid Rafi was the Senior Partner. He showed his displeasure about my resignation but at the same time called Ebrahim Sidat and asked him when he wanted me. Mr. Sidat told him that he wanted me from yesterday and then agreed on my exit date from AFF.
Though I left AFF in 1985 but my relationship was good and still good. Subsequently, in a legal matter, I managed to negotiate with the AFF Labour Union Leadership and brought them on the table to discuss their issues with the partners.
“That was the lesson learned from the word “Reconciliation”.
In Sidat Hyder, my immediate job was to become a bridge between the knowledge and wisdom of its partners and the students of the firm. I did it by introducing standardization and templating of working papers, conducting trainings and providing professional books through arranging book exhibition in the office.
During the first year of joining, Arthur Andersen’s leadership visited us, and I was assigned to facilitate the quality review of working papers.
It was incredibly significant for the firm. I led a team of six seniors and asked them to make a columnar checklist of working paper documents required for a quality review. I think those were around 30 columns. We tabulated 25 jobs and put the yes, no and not applicable. Despite discussion on a presentation, I convinced them that let them review it despite certain crosses and let us be what we are having. Our actions and documents should be better than our words.
At that time, Mr. Antony Mattar, after reviewing our working papers, told Ebrahim Sidat as-Ebrahim, though we have reviewed only one client things were honestly presented and actually we rely upon that we have reviewed all the 25 clients. That is another lesson-Ethics, honesty, and integrity.
During my association with Sidat Hyder, then Ford Rhodes Sidat Hyder, then Ernst & Young Ford Rhodes Sidat Hyder and then EY Ford Rhodes Sidat and lastly EY Ford Rhodes, I was made responsible to assist the leadership in opening offices in Islamabad, Lahore and in Afghanistan. I also was responsible to establish Training department and Islamic Financial Services Group. Al-Hamdolillah.
Seven Principles of Success
My principle of establishing new projects was that I should immediately prepare a team being capable of taking over charge from me from the very next day. It assumed that suppose, I am not able to join or come next day for any reason, then is my team ready to take over? This has been a risky principle and I have experienced many betrayals, but I followed it. In this matter my successor tried to make me history many times and use to recall the historical word U2 and جس پر احسان کرو اس کے شر سے بچو۔
The second principle was that “our today should be better than yesterday, and our tomorrow should be planned in such a way that it should be better than today.”
It was based on the saying of Hazarat Safyan Sori narrating his dream and advising the advice of our Holy Prophet PBUP “He whose two days are equal in accomplishment is a sure loser.” It means if you are as good as you were yesterday, you will not be good for tomorrow. This principle, I followed myself, and always in mind while delivering the training to the future leaders of the Firm.
The third principle was a group of six principles that I always taught and shared with my team members.
- Always tell the truth. You will not be required to keep in mind and remember it. It will be describing yourself and your personality.
- Be trustworthy. This profession is based on the value of the trust. People trust on you. You are the custodian of the secrets and pertinent information of your client. Do not betray, do not cheat. Do not mis-represent. Do not over-charge. Do not pass on you idle time to your clients. Do not charge your directly attributable expenses to your clients as an out of pocket expenses. Out of pocket expenses is a balance sheet item and not a profit and loss account item. Do not be dis-honest with yourself, with your peers, with your firm and with your clients. This profession is built on trust. Do not tell lie, mis-describe, misrepresent, covertly create an atmosphere to the team members, friend and seniors and do not grab their money and benefit. If you have cheated them and have been dis-honest with them, time will come that people will be come to know about this and at that you and your audit report and opinion will not be reliable. It is just a waiting time.
- Honour the promises you have made with anyone. If you are contractually obliged to pay some thing. Pay it. Do not try to find excuses. Not fulfilling you promise is a kind of fraud. Yes, higher level of fraud. If you have committed a client of delivery of an engagement on a day, honour it. Otherwise, you will have negative marking. If you have committed your staff for number of days examination leaves, honour it. Otherwise, you do not have standing.
- Justice with yourself. It is difficult but especially important. Whether you are doing work, having meal, distributing profit, or allocating bonus, do not forget to recognize enormous hard work your team. If in normal circumstances, you take food from your pocket at 5 dollars, take it around 5 dollars if you are charging it to the client. Paying by client does not mean that you have liberty to be extravagant.
- Loyalty with your organisation. Your organization is like you family. Living and surviving with better relationship will give strength to you. Change your behaviour and live with the ethical values of the organization. Respect others. Be useful and beneficial to your organization. Build the ethical organization and leave legacy. Profit making is not everything. Character building and compliant to ethical values is also important.
- The last thing is love. Love with humanity. All the members of your organization are like members of your family. They deserve respect, support, guidance, and encouragement. Provide them these values. They will be successful, and they will be your strength.
The fourth principle was also a bunch of traits. In my training and personal counselling session, I always emphasised on these. In trainings, I provided them columnar sheet to make their personal plan.
- Make goals. These PECEFS. Personal, Educational, Career, Economic, Family and Social. Note them down. Ask six questions of logic-What, Why, How, When, Who and Where. Make a grid. Make an excel sheet. Write the calendar dates, months, and years. Set target dates, Set deadlines.
- Plan. If you fail to plan you are planning to fail. Plan with religious honesty. After that, schedule it, make a timetable to follow.
- Organize yourself. At home, in office and on client.
- A place for everything and everything in its place.
- Keep your life balanced. Also focus on your health and energy level and find your daily prime time.
- Do not forget to take your right. If right is established, it is your legal right and property.
- Always make a to do list. Work according to that. Keep flexibility there.
- Work in teams. One and one is two but in teams it is eleven.
- Sacrifice your opinion if other person is giving better opinion.
- Beware of office politics. You must be careful. Everyone and everything is not good. We have to be careful.
The fifth principle is based on following quote which has four wisdom points success and survival:
- Unceasing vigilance
- Creative intelligence
- Technical competence
- Enormous hard work
The sixth principle is a six-point agenda which is important in in your personal, educational, career, economic, family, and social life (Lanes of life) . I have named them as Ingredients. You can watch detail in my YouTube videos. These are:
- Sense of responsibility.
- Skills and
- Technology, tools, and techniques.
In our Lanes of life these ingredients or attributes require different level of demand, but the sense of responsibility is like steering wheel and the character is wheel placed in trunk. The remaining four are two placed in front and two back of a vehicle. Remember a normal and tradition car has six wheels.
The seventh is the ethical and moral value. The Foundation and basis of our profession is integrity. It is the value of honesty and it prevail when no one is watching. It prevails when you are not accountable to anyone. It is the strongest quality of our profession. Following are the few quotes on integrity:
- “Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.” – W. Clement Stone.
- “One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised.” – Chinua Achebe
- “You are in integrity when the life you are living on the outside matches who you are on the inside.” – Alan Cohen
What is included in integrity? (source-Your Dictionary.com for basic list and other included by myself.)
- Keep your promises even if it takes extra effort.
- Go back to a store and pay for something you forgot to pay for.
- Never betray a friend’s trust even if you get in trouble.
- Inform the cashier he gave you too much change back.
- Do not gossip or talking badly about someone.
- Remain true to your spouse or partner.
- When in a serious relationship, don’t keep secrets from each other.
- Return money that you noticed someone dropped without expecting a reward.
- Ignore someone’s advice on how to cheat on your taxes and not get caught.
- Do not let someone else take the blame for something you did.
- If someone gives you confidential information, never tell anyone what you know.
- When it is obvious to you a relationship is over, don’t drag it out but discuss it openly.
- Work when you are supposed to and save socializing, snacking, searching the Internet and personal phone calls for break time.
- Turn in the extra change you found in the soda or snack vending machine.
- Show respect to coworkers with appropriate conversation and empathy.
- If you are in management, keep your employees informed so they will know what is coming and what needs to be done.
- Adhere to company policies and procedures.
- Be responsible. Do what you say you will do.
- Use materials for work and not personal use.
- If you make a mistake and a team’s project gets messed up or you miss a deadline, own up to your mistake. Don’t let teammates take the fall.
- Work together as a team. This builds trust and shows integrity.
- Never steal supplies from the workplace.
- If you find yourself in a conflict of interest, get out of it as soon as possible.
- Do not accept praise of acclaim for someone else’s work. That includes stealing someone’s idea or pretending to have worked on a successful project.
- When making a business deal, make sure everything is on the table and nothing was left out.
- If your company asks you to do something against your personal code of conduct, refuse. If it means losing a good paying job, so be it. Find a more ethical company to work for.
Other examples of integrity in practical life: (not included in above source)
- Do not over charge your clients for the hours you have not worked for them.
- Do not charge cost of your organization the (i.e. difference between salary committed and the salary on payroll) as an out of pocket expenses to your clients.
- Do not charge to your clients as out of pocket expenses the amount you paid to your staff as work incentives to be charged as conveyance expenses.
- If you are habitual late comer and take dinner in office instead of at home, do not charge or allocate the amount of that dinner to the clients. If you have stayed specially for that client, then you can allocate or charge.
- If you are coming late to office, take lunch with clients charging to office, have dinner in office and charge to clients demonstrating that you are sacrificing for the business, people understand this. Find out what they discuss in your absence.
- Your out of pocket expenses should be a balance sheet items. It is either receivable or payable. Do not make it as a credit into profit and loss account.
- If you have purchased tickets on behalf of your client, charge that to your client and if you get concession or discount on it, it is client’s money-pass it to them.
- Do not claim any amount which is reimbursement of expenses, but expenses not incurred. You charge driver’s salary whereas you do not have driver.
- If your organization has provided new car and you are entitled for the running expenses, use the new car for office and charge the running expenses of that new car to the office. If you are using your old and family car and charging the running expenses to your office, it is questionable.
- If due to conflict of interest situation, you are not allowed to make investment in certain securities, do not circumvent it with transferring them to your household employees and relatives. It is dishonesty.
- You do investment in real estate as this is your right but during office hours if you do the transactions of purchasing and selling or real estate, then it is highly unethical. Your office should not be Real Estate Market. You would have observed that the executives are reviewing jobs and during that that they go out to attend the call of property broker and their face shows they are excited.
- If you are partner of a firm and have earned something like the functions of the firm, you must surrender this amount to the firm. Suppose you have collaborated with your friends and formed a parallel organization. Now you advise to a contractual staff to resign for a period of a few months and manage to place him in that organization where you have undisclosed interest, and that person is provided to one of your clients on manpower leasing and out of profit, you take your share, it is against the integrity.
- If you are holding a key position of the firm, have appointed a person to do the general work and in collaboration with the person, you are doing separate business and providing services say janitorial services to your professional clients, giving discount in professional work and charging high fees for this additional services, profit of which goes into your pocket. It is theft.
- If you have signed ethical document for avoiding conflict of interest situation and you circumvent it by making a pool of friends and either you have provided them fund or advise them on investment in the organizations, you are professionally engaged in, take the benefit of that pooling, it is remote robbery. You may secure yourself by investing in cash or dollars, taking profit in dollars and keep in your locker and do not disclose to tax authorities. It is all unethical. Then you are not reliable.
- If you advance to you staff, and use that advance for questionable payments, and submit the fake bills to liquidate that advance, this is also un-ethical. In form it is expense, in substance it is unethical.
- If you have lived and stayed in a premises which is rented by office and cost is born by the office, in that case you should not charge the your per night stay by creating fake bills of hotel or gas houses. You do not have any right to claim such expenses as office has provided you the accommodation.
- If your organization’s policy is to travel in Economy class and you demand for Business or first class from your client, unless it is client’s policy, then it is mismatch.
- If you are liable to pay earned benefits to your employees and partners in accordance with you constituents’ documents, you must pay it. If you cunningly and deceptively and through misstatement and misrepresentation deprive them from their rights, you have cheated them. It is criminal. It is day light robbery. It is white collar crime.
- I have worked in an environment where undercut and commission to middleman was a normal thing. People and friends persuaded me to connect them and pass on 30 percent as salary and get the big assignments. I did not do it but informed to donor agencies. Even I visited the donor agencies and requested them that their support to award our firm assignments at reasonable fees will enable us to survive in environment otherwise we would have to windup our business. I believe, they understood our situation and were cooperative.
These are survival ingredients. I always told my new members that today is your first day in the organization, but after 10 years either you should be partner of the firm or a key position holder of a company.
Now having spent almost more than 100,000 working hours in job and work place, I understand and is great believer of the fact that if you keep the Fear of Allah in all of your matters and transactions, you are successful as this fear persuade you to do right things and ultimately you avoid regrets. Fear of Allah is source of all wisdom.
Muhammad Basheer Juma