Kashif Zubair – Living the American DreamWritten by Muslims Actually
Kashif Zubair brings to Adroit over 18 years of experience and skills as a business strategist, accountant, and auditor. Kashif has worked at Ernst & Young, Arthur Anderson, Capital Health System, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Kashif’s passion is in making every small-mid size business successful to bring wealth and joy back to the middle class families. Through various avenues within Adroit and his dedication as a Rotarian, Kashif is constantly bringing change to the companies that he works with.
Where were you born and raised?
I was born and raised in Pakistan. After completing my education and working for few years in Pakistan, I immigrated to the US in March, 2001 on a work visa (H1B1) at the age of 29.
What did you study?
I got an undergraduate degree in Accounting, followed by a diploma in Computer Sciences, and an MBA. My MBA was from Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi, which is the first business school outside North America opened as a campus of Wharton Business School in 1955. After my MBA, I pursued number of Certifications in the areas of network security, information systems auditing, and information systems security.
What do you do for a profession?
First ten years of my professional life were associated with public accounting firms. After my MBA, I started working with Ernst & Young (EY), where I spent my time doing financial audits and information systems planning/implementation. After EY, I moved to Arthur Andersen, where my main focus was business process reengineering and information systems auditing. During that time, under Arthur Andersen, Canada, which was the lead on the engagement, my team did the conceptual design of the Stock Exchange trading system, which is currently implemented in the three stock exchanges in Pakistan. When I got an opportunity with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in Philadelphia, I joined them and spent most of my time there doing information technology audits and Sarbanes-Oxley audits. After leaving PwC, I started my own management consulting firm, Adroit Business Solutions, in March 2008 in Philadelphia, which I currently operate. Adroit specializes in business strategies, branding, marketing, and web development for small-mid size companies, irrespective of industry association.
Did you always know that you wanted to get into this profession?
Yes, I planned it that way. Physical locations changed, along with the size of businesses that I currently work with, but professionally, I am doing what I always wanted to do – helping businesses achieve their potential. When I was graduating high school, a movie, “Pretty Woman”, came out, in which I watched Richard Gere being a Venture Capitalist. I learned that if I wanted to understand business in depth, I needed to have accounting knowledge. It was 90’s era, so on top of Accounting, I got into Computer Sciences and then blended everything together with my MBA Management Information Systems. Once I was done with my formal education, I decided to spend my first ten years in public accounting industry, as that profession provided me an extensive insight into how Fortune 500 companies work. Working with Big 4 or Big 6 at that time, also provided me the opportunity to accumulate extensive amount of experience, as working with these firms for one year generally regarded as working with a regular company for three years, as an example. However, my focus changed a little bit by the time I started my own management consulting firm eight years ago. Now, with Adroit, my passion is to help small business owners to reach their growth potential, as over 80% of our nation relies on small businesses to bring food to their table.
What community initiatives have you been involved in and why?
I have involved in the non-profit world since the beginning of my career. I have volunteered my time and shared my expertise with following organizations; in alphabetical order:
- American Heart Association, as both of my parents died of heart diseases.
- Ascend, as I wanted to help in professional development of my fellow Asian Accountants and there was a need of my skill-set at the Board level when their Chapter was incorporated in Philadelphia in 2007.
- Council for the Advancement of Muslim Professionals (CAMP), as I wanted to help fellow Muslims professionals advance their careers. Initially, I was elected as the President of Philadelphia Chapter and after that, I was elected as the Chairman for CAMP International, covering the US and Canada.
- Japan America Society of Southern California, as there was a need of my skill-set at the Board level and it provided me an opportunity to work with different group of people in Los Angeles.
- Rotary International, initially, I joined Rotary for business, but stayed with it as I found it a perfect fit for me to help others, from whom I don’t expect anything in return. Truly, an organization to provide “Service Above Self”. At Rotary, I am President-Elect for Santa Ana Rotary Club for the year 2017-18 and also serve as Chair Vocational Service for District 5320 for the years 2016-2019.
- Susan G. Komen, as my grandmother had breast cancer.
- The Entrepreneurship Institute, as I wanted to help fellow business owners in their business growth.
- The Wholechild, as in addition to education, children are one of my passions and there was a need for my skill-set at the Board level.
One initiative for the Muslim community that I recently took was to launch my Facebook page – “Kashif Zubair on Islam 101”. Through this page, I provide information to educate people on Islamic values and fight extremism at one hand and Islamophobia on the other.
What role has family played in where you are today?
Family is where the foundation was built for me. The importance of education, the desire to help the poor, and the need to stand-up for the oppressed, all came through my upbringing. My father shared with me a quote from Tipu Sultan, an Indian ruler, “The Lion doesn’t have a territory. Wherever he goes, it becomes his territory.”, helped me tremendously in my moving and getting acclimated in new environments, from Karachi to Philadelphia, Philadelphia to Los Angeles, and Los Angeles to Orange County, where I currently live.
What inspires you to keep doing the work that you are doing?
People. When I see a light in the eyes of people; either through the work I do with non-profit organizations or Adroit, it keeps me going. If I can make a difference in one life at a time, I feel that my purpose to exist, as a human being, is served.
What in your opinion is the single most important issue that Muslims are facing in the world today?
Education on Islam. Most of the people, who are well-educated and established, gave away the reigns of religion to people, who didn’t have the capacity to properly understand religion and share their understanding with others. It is time that people, who are global citizens and have global perspective, take back charge of teaching religion to write the narrative that truly represents the religion of Islam. I often tell people that if you follow any religion from the time that it was revealed, you will be considered an orthodox, but if you follow Islam that came over 1,400 years ago, you will find yourself the most liberal person of today. Currently, majority of well-educated and successful people within Muslim community shy away when it comes to their own religion, as it is the worst brand to be associated with. In my opinion, if all these people can come out as Muslims, it would change the perception of Muslims that currently holds the attention of our media.
As a Muslim professional, what is your role in addressing this issue?
After Paris and San Bernardino attacks last year, I took it upon me to spread the information on Islam that I knew existed and our media hardly covered it, because it doesn’t fall into “sensational news”, which is the name of the game today, if you want to have higher media ratings. Since mid of February, 2016 when I actively started posting on my Facebook page, one post a day, to date, I have accumulated over 45k followers from around the world, who are eager to learn more about Islam.
Also, as my own core competency is business strategy, I recently started an initiative through Adroit to pay-it-forward. Currently, as a Muslim and an expert in successful business strategies for small-mid size companies, I am reaching out to the religious institutions (churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, etc.) in my geographic area to conduct a 3-hour business strategy workshop at their location for their congregation. Through these Workshops, not only I will be able to help more people in my community to be better at what they do, but also the fee charged for these Workshops will go to the hosting institute as a donation.
Where do you see yourself 10 years?
Doing more community service. We have a slogan in Rotary, “Service Above Self”, that’s where all my efforts are focused to truly implement it in my life.
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