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Hamed Ahmed Kazim, the longest serving Emirati chartered accountant in international professional services. Image Credit: Gulf News

Dubai: Hamed Ahmed Kazim is a pioneer in more ways than one. The longest serving Emirati chartered accountant in global professional services, he currently works as Senior Advisor to PwC. He ran his own advisory practice (HK Consulting), catering to some of the largest international firms and has been on the board of several banks, financial bodies and multinationals.

He has also played a key role in path-breaking projects both outside and within the UAE, leading Dubai’s first IPO and in the creation of iconic entities in logistics, commodities and IT. He is also the only non-Indian to have served on the board of overseas majors like Larsen & Toubro India.

But ask Kazim how he sees himself, and the 66-year-old’s answer is spontaneous: “As someone who strives to be a better human being, be able to help others and remain a proud, but not arrogant, citizen of the UAE.”

Those who know him will tell you that he has touched many lives with his generosity already, but that is not something Kazim is willing to talk about.

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“It is the will of Allah,” he reasons. “None of us is given an ala carte menu before we were born. All we have control over is to use Allah’s blessings to help other human beings."

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Those who know Hamed Kazim will tell you that he has touched many lives with his generosity, but that is something he is not willing to talk about. Image Credit: Gulf News

Kazim can never forget the fortuitous circumstances that first led him to professional services.

“I had just come back from the US after graduating in Electronics Engineering and Economics. I was working with a bank in Dubai, when a colleague, an Iraqi expat, suggested that I get qualified as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and work in an international professional firm which happened to be Arthur Andersen. As Allah willed it, I went for an interview and within two hours, had an offer to work in Washington DC, besides studying for the CPA as well. Kazim spent a glorious 23 years with the company and got CPA with high distinction in the first attempt. He then became managing partner of Andersen and, later EY.

“For someone like me who has an insatiable appetite for learning new things, I feel blessed to be pursuing a career in professional services. The opportunities are endless,” he says.

Little wonder then that he is out to convince more Emiratis to get into professional services. The founder of the Emiratisation (Watani) programme in PwC, Watani has succeeded in attracting and retaining 190 citizens onboard. And his mantra for success is simple.

As he tells experienced joiners in a voluntary induction session, “To maximise your journey professionally, you must do three things: Develop competencies that are relevant for the future; acquire expertise, not just exposure and experience, in a specific area; and achieve work-life harmony.”

According to him, work-life harmony is no play on words.

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Hamed Kazim says his biggest strength is his appetite to learn new things. Image Credit: Gulf News

“People talk of work-life balance. But that is a myth. A more practical way of going about it is by defining your priorities and accepting them. This way, you can have a more fulfilling career and family life.”

Kazim, who considers himself a workaholic, says he also has a lot of other interests which he makes it a point to pursue. They include daily workouts at the gym, diving, spear fishing, scuba-diving, and dirt-biking. He admits he has sacrificed his personal time with family because of his busy schedule, but thanks to their understanding, he has been able to achieve work-life harmony.

“A strong family is a huge blessing. My late mother and aunt have been my biggest influences,” says Kazim, stressing on the ‘Nature vs Nurture’ role in shaping personalities. A father of six, he has tried bring up his children the same way, by teaching them values that matter and empowering them with life skills at a young age.

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“It is important to be self-reliant and not abuse it,” he notes.

He also talks of a seventh child "who went to another world".

“Omar was just 12 when he left us. It was a difficult time for the family. But we have to accept whatever Allah wills,” he says.

To a question on whether he has any regrets in his life, he says, “I don’t harbour regrets. I try and learn lessons and make up for what couldn’t be.”