"ANU was a very different place in the early '80s. It felt very different from the thriving, multicultural campus that we have today with a rich tapestry of cultures and backgrounds. When I studied at the University, I was amongst only a handful of students from a South Asian background!
My two sons, Ahmed and Ali, who both grew up in Canberra, also chose not just this University but the ANU College of Business and Economics (CBE), followed by the same professional qualifications to become chartered accountants.
The fact that ANU not only encourages but provides real opportunities to become 'strategic thinkers' is perhaps the main reason why I was keen for my sons to experience life at ANU. When I look back and then reflect on the success that my sons are enjoying in their careers, I know that they made the right choice.
Did you know, back when I was a student, ANU did not offer a commerce or accounting degree? We had to study three years of economics and then do a major in accounting. Three years of economics was a real challenge! The failure rate in first year economics was believed to be around 70% and the famous saying by one of the Professors in the first lecture was rumoured to be, "look to your right, look to the left, then look at yourself, and remember only one of you is going to make it through to the second year". Perhaps, it was more folklore than fact but it used to send chills down our spines back then. Thankfully, following representations from our batch, the University introduced commerce, accounting and some other degrees which allowed future students to go straight to the degree of their choosing.
My sons and I have continued to maintain our association with the University through the mentoring of students. Ali, a Senior Manager at PwC, regularly mentors in the MomentuM program at CBE and helps students to access professional career-based experience. Ahmed, a Director at PwC, has also maintained a close connection with the University since graduating. He fondly remembers the all- night cricket games at the residences, late night tennis and the once-in-a-lifetime rowing session down Sullivan's Creek (yes, they did that back then!).
After many years of living and working in Canberra, I have been on an extended sabbatical that has taken me to Pakistan, Qatar and Dubai to work in a variety of senior positions. The ANU degree along with the professional qualification is like a passport that opens doors for you wherever you go.
I have had the opportunity to attend Harvard and deliver lectures at Carnegie Mellon and many other leading universities, but thanks to the grounding I had at ANU, I did not feel overwhelmed in any of those places.
My ability to adapt to different workplace cultures, business practices and not only survive but thrive in the latter part of my career is in large part due to my time at ANU. It's true that 'ANU produces strategic thinkers'. I can also see much the same qualities in my sons, who are both excelling in their careers.
I never pushed Ahmed or Ali to follow my profession. Ali will tell you that I often said, "Don't become accountants, it's too stressful!" Yet, we all ended up as accounting professionals. Now my sons say it was all just reverse psychology and a part of my grand plan. That may not be true but I am delighted that they did so of their own volition.
Someone once asked me for my definition of success and I responded without any hesitation, "If my two sons grow up to be good human beings who make a positive contribution to society, become professionals that make a difference, then I would consider myself a real success."
Well, what can I say? ANU has contributed greatly to all of our lives. And perhaps the next generation of Qureshis will follow us here too."
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