Hi I am Jay, I moved to England from Pakistan after high school and did my bachelors at Westminster Business School in Business and Management. In 2014 I graduated with a Master’s degree in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship before moving on to my PhD in Strategy, Enterprise and Innovation, both from University of Portsmouth.
At the age of 12, I started selling personalised kites to my friends for levelling up my pocket money; registered two companies by the age of 18 that included a web magazine and a charitable organisation named ORIGIN Community Development Organisation which is focused on improving basic health and education situations in developing countries. Afterward I moved on to work with a start-up focused on encrypted data transferring which then moved towards front-end designing for e-commerce businesses and managing backend data management now operating from Berlin.
How did you decide to start a HE teaching career and how do you see it evolving?
By accident, when I was in my first year of university I wanted to become a HR practitioner moving to legal studies, that is why I chose all the law modules in my final year. By the time I reached the end of university, I tried to reflect on the things I learnt from my degree and I felt that there was something missing or something which I wanted to learn but didn’t. I really enjoyed Strategic Perspectives with Dr Ioannis Christodoulou and Online Social Entrepreneurship with Dr Magda Hercheui. I was able to relate more with Online Social Entrepreneurship and that is why I went to do my MSc in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship. When I finished my MSc there was still something missing hence why I started my research in Entrepreneurship Education and Entrepreneurial Learning.
I realised that Entrepreneurship Education and Entrepreneurial Learning were not the same thing, the only way I could research about both was by becoming a part of them. In the first year of my teaching in Higher Education, I remember Dr Ioannis Christodoulou said “now you are an academic” and my response was “please don’t say that”. Now after a couple of years I can happily say that I am an academic.
In my field of work, education is evolving and moving away from its traditional forms in almost all possible ways, including; structure of lectures and seminars, assessments and the whole experience. The units I am involved in are mostly project based where students act as entrepreneurs or consultants and use creative problem solving techniques while working with local organisations to solve their problems. Some units on which they are not working with the companies, they are presenting new products or service ideas, so they are either involved with business completely to the point where they spend most of their time in the field otherwise they present conceptual ideas.
Which achievement are you most proud of?
My achievements… well I could say that I received ‘X’ amount of prizes or awards but the most fulfilling sense I felt and keep feeling time to time is when I see students or people that have achieved something where I played a part in the process. In 2016 and 2017, my teams of students were crowned the runner-up out of 50 teams, for creating the biggest impact on the organisation, two years in a row. I received emails from students asking me what units I teach in the following year so they can choose those modules.
Anyone can work for themselves and achieve a number of things based on their wish list and I did that, I was so there, but the feeling you get when someone walks up to you and says “they did something and they did it because you made it possible for them to do it” or “they never thought they were capable of doing something of this magnitude and they did it because you had faith in them”. Trust me!! That feeling and sense of achievement is divine and cannot be replaced by anything else. We are in the business of changing opinion and shaping lives, and no achievement can top that.
What were the main challenges you faced?
Life is in itself a challenge. I moved to England from Pakistan after high school and that was a challenge, university was another challenge, work present challenges everyday. I can’t think of anything in specific but I would say, but that we all face numerous challenges every single day and if we eliminate all the challenges we would never be who we are today. I believe challenges make life interesting. To become a good player of anything you might have to lose hundreds of games.
Reflect on your time at Westminster Business School
Time at Westminster was a life changing experience for me. I am certain I can talk about it for hours and hours. I made lifelong friends, I had more fun in the last year of my university than ever. I used to go to the lecturers with the weirdest questions, I was passionate about law and entrepreneurship and used to have long discussions with my teachers.
Like most other students, I used to work on coursework last minute and in the final year Ioannis extended the deadline, I ended up sending him an email saying why would you extend the deadline, now I can’t work on it.
Do you have any advice for students graduating this year?
I failed mathematics in high school, I had venture failures, I had relationship and family problems and on top of all that I was very socially awkward throughout my life; till last year of university I could not even ask directions from a stranger. What I am trying say is that I am not any different than anyone else and I have vulnerabilities as well. Instead of feeling bad about everything, I learnt to embrace my vulnerabilities. You must understand that both successes and failures are just events in life. If you hit a jackpot today, life would continue, if you lose something very dear to you or fail in something, life would continue. It is indeed easier said than done but once you learn to embrace your weaknesses and failures they would become a brick which you can use to construct yourself.
There are 85 graduates competing for each job with almost half a million new people graduating with a bachelor’s degree in the UK every year, according to the Office of National Statistics almost half of recent graduates in the UK are working in non-graduate jobs.
Degree alone is becoming another filter, you must have the whole university experience to even hope for any gain at the end. Universities are so enriched with resources, for three years students are surrounded with so many activities and opportunities, all they have to do is build an eye for spotting them. Don’t wait until you graduate or even reaching the final year. You are in university because you want to build yourself better and/or more employable, then why don’t you invest every minute of that time in doing so. I am not saying that you should not have fun while being at university but you should not forget why you are here as well.
Who is your role model?
I think I would be one of the few people that actually do not have a role model. I think that every person has their own story and we should learn from everything and everyone. I learnt from Martian Hunter of DC Universe, a cartoon, that “The future is worth it. All the pain. All the Tears. The future is worth the fight”.
I think one should learn bits from everything but then create their own reality. If you just follow someone else’s footsteps you will never reach anywhere because that destination wasn’t yours to reach.
That is why I said at the end of my talk as well that, do not follow me or try to do what I did but learn from my experience and your teachers’, parents, TV shows, Mickey Mouse literally anyone and then pave your own path.
Thank you to Jahangir for such an insightful and wonderful interview. If you would like to find out more about his course, Business Management BA (Hons) at Westminster Business School visit our course pages.