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Soccer fan excels in IT business
Recently named one of the Top 100 most influential Muslims in the UK, Arcom IT’s MD Shahid Azeem’s story is a true rag-to-riches. Leaving school with no qualifications he has run a string of multi-million successful businesses. Straight talking and ethical, he was named one of the top 100 most influential Muslims in the UK, the Asian Entrepreneur of 2006 and star of Channel 4’s Millionaire’s Mission. He is an Award winning British-Pakistani entrepreneur and philanthropist, and one of Surrey’s best known business leaders whose success has been down to hard work, and a philosophy of doing business in the right and ethical way. Perhaps a combination of his Muslim beliefs and the hard introduction to Britain he faced at the time of Skinheads and the BNP movement, helped shape his no nonsense character and his desire to become the success that he is today.
Shahid knew not a single English word when he arrived here at the age of 10. Within a year his entrepreneurial flair saw him lending money to his classmates, and a love of football took over his life, eventually leaving school with no qualifications, but as a youth team player on the books of a professional club, and one of the country’s first Asian footballers.
Unfortunately, the Football career was short-lived after suffering a severe leg break which once against tested his strength desire to succeed. He soon carved a career for himself in IT, before spotting a gap in the PC market, setting up a business which grew to have offices in 6 countries, turning over in excess of £80 million.
At the time he started his business it was not easy for a Muslim or an Asian to enter into British market in face of racial discrimination and glass ceilings but he did not lose his heart and braved all odds.
Euro Zone’s economy is under recession and its leaders are trying to get out of the situation. Do you think that Britain also feels its impact?
“Britain is not only the part of the global economy but also that of the European Union and its impact here is clearly visible. It has affected the growth rate and business performance of this country. Cuts in business support by financial institution have also marred its performance. However, my business model is based on outsourcing of IT service through which our clients could easily manage their resource.”
Do you think that the success you achieved in a very short time in this country could have been possible in Pakistan?
“My answer is No. One can’t be successful there unless he has some connections and knows the market trend. Governments in South Asian countries are infested with corruption and nepotism and the higher offices are the monopoly of a certain class where poor and people with little or no education could not be that successful but here in Britain Pakistani with little education have earned big names in various business sectors. My personal experience is that there are a lot of opportunities in this country which one can’t find in Pakistan unless he has some connections at higher level. Self accountability, business expansion and self employment in this country are encouraged. Pakistani community settled here has great love for its motherland and always helped the fellow countrymen in the times of natural disasters. I am proud of being a British Pakistani but I am also worried about the political and economic situation of that country. Unfortunately media slurs Pakistan as terrorist and a failed state but I would say the West should also look at its own policies. This issue could not be settled with bombardments and killings but by engaging political leadership.”
Pakistani community could not achieve much success in the education field, what you say about it?
“As far as I understand the reason for this backwardness is that our elders came here to earn and to go back therefore they saved their earnings and paid no attention to education. Another issue is that our third generation has lost its identity and needs role models for guidance. I was fond of playing football but could not continue due to an accident in which I got my leg broken. It was a big failure of my life.”
How do you think about yourself being reckoned among top 100 most influential Muslims in Britain?
“In my opinion there are more influential Muslims in Britain than me but perhaps they are out of sight of the media.”
What you think of the Pakistani community’s progress in this country?
“Some people are controlling the community under the cover of religion and politics due to which the community could not play its due role it was supposed to do. Instead of living in isolation we should work together as a team.”
Would you like to give some advice to the youth?
“I would like to say that self belief is the key to real success. Whatever one should do, do it with commitment and hard work.”