Neuberger Berman’s Jahangir Aka tells us about Minions, rabbits, DIY, the financial crisis, his professional mindset and why he rarely has to dine alone on his travels.
Company and job title:
Managing director, Middle East & Africa, Neuberger Berman
Previous company and job title:
Managing director, Middle East, SEI Investments
How many years in the Asia-Pacific region:
Over 18 years. I was born in Abu Dhabi and spent the first nine years of my childhood in Cairo. As an adult,
I have spent nine years working in the UAE.
What do you consider to be your home town?
Dubai and London. I am equally attached to both.
Mathematics and management at Kings College, London.
First job in the funds industry:
Head of product, sales and marketing at Standard Chartered Bank.
What is the toughest challenge you’ve faced in your professional life and what made it so challenging?
The global financial crisis. I had just moved to Dubai to set up an asset management business. Great timing! We decided to turn a negative into a positive and chose to ‘over-communicate’ with clients and prospects at a time when many others provided no answers. It’s incredible how many people still remember this.
What achievement in your job are you most proud of?
I have lived in Asia, the Middle East and Europe, and travelled around the world. This has allowed me to develop wonderful relationships with peers, clients and colleagues, many of which I count as friends. This means I rarely have to eat alone when I travel.
What advice would you give to someone who is beginning their career in the funds industry?
Passion, focus and patience. As clichéd as it sounds, if you enjoy what you do, you will be good at it. In addition, you need to be focused and patient to get results for yourself and your firm.
If you could change one thing about the funds industry, what would it be? Issue a health warning that reminds us we need to understand our objectives when investing: time horizon, returns and risk.
What is your greatest ambition in life and why?
To use the skills and relationships I have developed to help those less fortunate than ourselves.
What’s the best investment you’ve made and why?
Travel, both for myself and my family. We really enjoy meeting new people, eating new foods and learning about new cultures.
Tell us something about you that most people don’t know:
I enjoy DIY, but it doesn’t always result in me fixing what’s broken!
Favourite country to visit for a holiday and why:
So many. Vietnam, South Africa, Portugal. Food and the great outdoors are common themes.
Favourite type of food and why:
Vietnamese or Thai because I enjoy the fresh ingredients and the spicy flavours.
Favourite book or film and why:
Despicable Me. I have three Minions of my own.
Your house is burning. Your family is safe. You have time to rescue one object. What would it be and why?
Our rabbit, assuming you are not including that in my family.
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