Ubaid first learned about The Brokerage when he was at St Angela’s sixth form in London. The careers coordinator at the college – Chris Jarvis – played a pivotal role in his career journey, including taking him on trips to Brokerage events with Deutsche Bank, Societe Generale, and a networking event with Insurance companies.
“Chris Jarvis is a legend… We’d stay late with him working on our CVs, and he’d take us out to different businesses. Just being taken out to those businesses and seeing what was there, it made us see what opportunities were available”
The Brokerage provided exposure that was especially crucial for Ubaid, as he is the first member of his family to grow up in the UK so didn’t have any family connections who know about professional jobs in London.
“I don’t have relatives in corporate jobs – I’m in the first generation of my family to grow up in this country. The Brokerage gave me that exposure. None of my family have professional qualifications. I could see Canary Wharf from where I lived. it seemed like a different world.”
While at 6th form, Ubaid completed work experience with EY and then started an apprenticeship with them. However, after a couple of years he realised that the culture at EY – especially the very long working hours – did not really suit him. The decision to move from EY apprenticeship was a difficult one, but in the end he applied for a role at the NAO which The Brokerage introduced him to.
Ubaid says he felt a loyalty to EY, who he had done work experience with during sixth form, but ultimately moving from there to the National Audit Office (NAO) was the best decision he could have made. He completed his apprenticeship with the NAO and is still there, now working as a Business Partner.
“I was fortunate that my parents didn’t insist I go to university. I never understood the benefits of paying 9k a year, especially with the wide range of apprenticeships available. My parents were great with me doing an apprenticeship, once they understood I’d be earning and in a good job.”
Through his apprenticeship, Ubaid became a chartered accountant. However, rather than working as an accountant, he has worked in auditing.
Auditors are the people who check an organisation’s accounts are accurate. While at EY, Ubaid was involved in checking the accounts for businesses, but the NAO are responsible for checking the accounts of government and public bodies, which means Ubaid has had a mixture of different experiences. The most memorable include stock taking at different organisations, like counting valuable watches at Harrods or counting ancient coins at the Royal Mint.
One thing about the job that was daunting at first was the communication skills auditing requires. Auditors, even early on in their career, might need to communicate with people at their clients’ businesses who are much older and more experienced, asking them difficult questions about their accounts. That’s a skill Ubaid feels he had to work on as he gained experience.
Are finance companies welcoming?
Impostor syndrome and feeling unsure about whether you belong is a common experience and Ubaid has certainly had to learn how to overcome this. His advice to other young people?
“Don’t feel timid, don’t feel scared. Your colleagues are just people and you deserve to be there. You’re there because the company saw your potential and liked you. So never shy from bringing your full self to work.”
Ubaid believes that having the right mindset is part of what will lead to a more diverse workplace. But also he has found both his work places very welcoming. The NAO organised the welcome for new apprentices well, with a 3 month induction plan to ease people in.
Ubaid doesn’t drink, and he has also noticed that for social events his employer makes an effort to ensure people who don’t drink are welcomed and events aren’t always held in pubs which might not be entirely welcoming to all colleagues.
What’s the one thing you would have wanted to know at 17?
One lesson Ubaid has learned is to concentrate on the team working aspect of his job. To be sociable and make sure he gets on with all his colleagues. At first, he concentrated on keeping his head down and making sure the work was done, but he realised that getting on with others was actually an important part of his work.
“Get your head out of the spreadsheet. Be the person others want to engage with and bounce ideas off. Yes, being competent at your job is essential but socialising is also important too. Make sure people know who you are; just being a hard worker won’t make you stand out.”