Amin Kassam, head of Bloomberg’s Legal Department across APAC, shares with WiFA his motivation to be a male ally, his mentorship experience, his 2021 mantra, and much more.
Tell us about yourself.
I have been a lawyer for over 20 years and started my career in New York City before moving to Hong Kong just over two years ago. While I am South Asian, I was born in Canada and my parents were born and raised in East Africa.
What motivates you to be an ally in the financial services industry?
It is both personal and professional. In terms of our business, we know from extensive research and our own experience that diverse teams lead to better outcomes and more innovation. And as our business continues to grow across all sectors, regions and demographics we need to make sure that all voices are represented around the table so that we can make our products, services, and strategies more inclusive and responsive to our client’s needs. And as a gay South Asian Muslim, I personally know what it is like to not see yourself reflected in areas of leadership and, as a result, to question your seat at that very table. I would not be where I am today if it was not for the wonderful allies and mentors who guided me along the way and helped me to overcome my own doubts and reservations.
Mentors play an important role in the development of the careers of women. Have you or are you mentoring a woman in finance? Please tell us about your experience.
I have been fortunate enough to mentor a number of talented women and other individuals from under-represented groups and have found it incredibly rewarding. So often, we think of the mentee benefiting from the experience but in fact as the mentor I have found that it has helped me tremendously to gain new perspectives and to challenge many of my own assumptions which ultimately helps me to be a more effective and empathetic leader. For example, years ago I mentored a young mother who was very open about some of the struggles she faced in trying to balance her family and career. Today, I still draw on that experience when guiding my team which is now comprised of 40% working mothers.
What advice or guidance would you provide men so they can become an ally?
What can we do better to support our female colleagues professionally? Don’t be afraid to share our own challenges and experiences. Authentic leaders are the most effective allies and by being vulnerable you give others permission to bring their whole selves to work every day which increases both trust and productivity.
What will be your 2021 mantra to keep you motivated, either professionally or personally?
It’s my same mantra from 2020 – crisis creates opportunity.