Imtyaz in the Hot-Seat!
Working in the world of insurance, DirectAsia.com’s CFO tells us how life has changed since moving from London to Singapore. Just don’t mention his expanding waist-line…!
Chief Finance Officer at DirectAsia.com, Imtyaz and his family enjoying Singapore
Here he gives us a sneak peek into his life…
Chief Financial Officer DirectAsia.com Group of companies
Manage and control all aspects relating to finance, from internal management reporting, to external statutory reporting for all entities. In short operating a finance function for a growing and dynamic organization.
What qualities do you need for this job:
As well as the usual prerequisites, having a finance qualification, good with numbers, analytical mind etc., the overriding quality is the ability to understand different stakeholders requirements and deliver them.
From customers, to investors, you have to manage them as well as all those in between. We are a relatively new company with differing and often competing finance needs and requirements. Rather than a standard CV set of requirements for a finance lead you must have the ability to think outside the box and do things differently.
Despite what a text book answer may say about an accountant, the overriding requirement is you need to be a people person, managing a team across different countries, and managing and meeting other department’s needs.
My job is as much about me as it is about the finance department, a team effort is essential.
A love for the company and job is a prerequisite; it carries you through the manic moments and the deadlines which are inevitable in this role.
Also in the insurance world on a more lighter note a good grasp of acronyms helps, MAS ,OCI , OIC, IBNR, no meeting in the insurance world is ever quite complete unless you have used at least two acronyms in the sentence. LOL, ROTFL!
Your previous job title and description:
I worked in London with the Whittington Group Pte the parent company for over eight years, as Group Finance Manager. It’s a job that first gave me the insight into the exciting development of DirectAsia.com. I always felt part of DirectAsia.com but from the outside. Coming to Singapore and being part of it is far more rewarding.
Prior to that I worked for AON, in a department that looked after Lloyds of London syndicates, my first insight into the world of insurance.
Prior to that I trained and qualified as a chartered accountant with an accountancy and audit firm in London, very text book accountancy job!
How long have you been in Singapore?
It’s coming up to two years soon. I moved here with my wife and my daughter who was a few months old at the time. So moving to Singapore was a real challenge, the type of decision you need to make and just go with it. There were too many uncertainties to think on it too much. If I had approached it in a logical manner I would still be making a list of pros and cons, logic does not work in these circumstances, sometimes best in life to just make a decision and go for it. It’s worked out just great on all fronts
What do you like about Singapore?
Coming from the UK it’s definitely the weather here that makes it all so great. I love the people and the sense of security that Singapore gives.
A fantastic place to bring up kids without a doubt. It’s safe, clean, and the weather allows the outdoor life which kids love.
My daughter Aisha runs a round our condo all times of the day and night when it pleases her, barefoot and if she had it her way she would never change out of her swimming clothes. In the UK she would be locked indoors away from the elements.
Working life here is also great, a real cosmopolitan feel to the city, and the work place is like working in the United Nations. I’m sure if I tried I could pick up a new language, but I will stick to English and maybe some Singlish lah.
Your fave Singapore food and why?
I love food in Asia, and my ever expanding waistline shows it. Laksa is my favorite food here, I’m not a connoisseur of food to work out which restaurant sells the best, but Laksa is what I tend to order a lot of.
Other than that I have to say my wife’s cooking, she will read this and I want to ensure I can continue to enjoy her Biryani dishes, as well as anything else she may cook (it’s all truly delicious dear, I am so very grateful, and yes I know you had a hard day, and its hot but I am truly grateful for the dinner).
What do you like to do in your spare time? Hobbies?
I used to be a big fitness person, running after work in London around the Thames, from Tower Bridge up to Westminster and back, a 10k run in an hour, not quite Olympic material but close, those days are gone! It’s the combination of the hot weather and spending time with my daughter, seeing the gym is now a once a month experience. Running outside in this weather is for mad dogs and Englishmen, I’m now a Singaporean.
I have always loved to travel, and being in Singapore is just great to do that.
I still can’t get over being able to travel to Malaysia and Indonesia in an hour. In the UK an hour’s travel barely got you out of London.
My wife Asma and daughter Aisha who will be two soon, both I have already mentioned are central to my life.
Everyone says it’s so easy to raise kids here, especially with a maid to help, more kids would be great, but I need Aisha to stop running around like an out of control monster for me to consider another child, she is a handful, great fun, but a handful!
Travel? Your fave destination and why?
Far and away tropical shores are my favorite destinations. It’s strange a couple of years ago I would have described the beach at Sentosa as a great place to go. More adventurous now that I’m in Asia, Langkawi and Penang are ideal for me. I want to venture to Bail, Kota Kinabalu and other such places, a long list.
Also love the city breaks, the contrast of places like Bangkok with Singapore is just amazing, all great places. Being in Asia you can’t leave it at one favorite destination, it’s ever increasing.
What do you want us to know about you?
Still pondering how I ended up in Singapore, and how I ended up on the wrong side of 40, where did those years go! I was always going to be forever young!
Check back often to read more about the team behind DirectAsia.com, leading and pioneering online insurance company in Singapore.