CFO Juzer Adamjee makes ‘third world experience’ a ticket to being first class

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Among the memorable highlights of group CFO of Bobmil Group Kenya Juzer Adamjee's long career was his promotion, in 2014, from divisional CFO to group CFO. The role involved managing the finance function of an organisation in Qatar, with over 20 diverse business units operating in the Middle East and Europe. At the time, the company’s annual revenue was in excess of US$2.4 billion.

Another highlight took place just four years later when Juzer was appointed to the position of CEO of Laboratory and Allied, a pharmaceutical manufacturing organisation in Kenya.

“Both these appointments were icing on the cake of my career progression,” he says. “I went to the UK to study accountancy and qualified in 1985, returned to Kenya to work for PwC and thereafter my career went in the direction of the commercial world. The achievements filled me with a sense of pride and accomplishment, reinforcing my belief in my capabilities, and brought me immense happiness and fulfillment. These moments have been to testament my hard work, dedication and the support of those around me.”

Whereas his career has had significant highlights, Juzer says life inevitably presents challenges, and his journey has had its share of lows.

“One of the most significant low points was when I migrated to Australia, where I faced the uphill task of getting suitable employment. They considered my Kenyan work record to be a ‘third world experience’. The sentiments expressed in Australia did not deter me; I proved them wrong and secured an interim role as a costing clerk rising to the position of group finance controller in an organisation listed on the Australian Stock Exchange," he recalls.

The Australian experience tested Juzer’s resilience and patience, forcing him to confront his limitations and fears. These experiences, while difficult, taught him an invaluable lesson: do not lose hope and persevere, success will eventually find you.

For Juzer, success in a professional context often encompasses a combination of achievement, growth and fulfillment. It means reaching milestones that signify progress and accomplishment and making meaningful contributions to his field.

“Moreover, professional success is also about cultivating a positive reputation, building strong relationships with colleagues and clients and maintaining a balance between work and personal life. It’s not just about climbing the corporate ladder,” he notes.

“Mentoring my team, developing their skills and paving their way to greater heights is very rewarding. I take pride in seeing my former team members progress to CFO positions. Being a reliable and supportive friend, partner or family member are key to my professional success also,” he adds.

Making a positive impact

On the personal front, Juzer states that measures of personal success can vary widely depending on individual values, goals and life circumstances. He has received recognition from peers through industry awards and other forms of professional acknowledgement. He was awarded best construction CFO in the Middle East in 2018, which is yet another highlight of a long career. He has also led the listing of a business unit on the Qatar Stock Exchange, with a market capitalisation of US$ 700 million.

Juzer finds that each management style has its strengths and weaknesses, and can be effective depending on the organisational context and goals. “I have a very inclusive and collaborative management style; I encourage collaboration and idea-sharing. I also lead by example and I am always on hand to support my team and my peers,” he explains.

Outside of work, Juzer is a part-time golfer and dedicates time to community service. Through his involvement in charity and volunteer work, he strives to make a positive impact on those around him. Giving back to the community is a core value he holds dearly. In this regard, he has been an active member of the Association of Round Table International in East Africa, where he has held several positions, including chair of the Rotary Club, and interim chair of TechnoServe Kenya, an NGO headquartered in the United States.

“Community service and engaging directly with individuals facing significant hardships has opened my eyes to the resilience and strength of the human spirit. It made me realise the importance of compassion, empathy and the impact of small acts of kindness. This experience shifted my focus, inspiring me to contribute positively to society.

It taught me that true fulfillment comes from helping others and making a meaningful difference in their lives,” he says.

The one thing that Juzer wishes he did differently when he was younger, is pursue entrepreneurship. Many of his friends went into business early on and have excelled. He concludes by advising professionals to consider conceptualising business ideas and taking ownership of their own paths.

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