Interview Nabeela Hussain
Nabeela Hussain is one of the three nominees for the ECHO Award in the Loyens & Loeff Law & Tax category.
What does the nomination mean to you?
The nomination for this award has a threefold meaning to me, related to the past, present and future. The preparation for the presentation made me look back at the past. This felt like a personal awareness process that suddenly gave a clear insight into my motivation, choices and actions to this day. The nomination for the award relates to the present. It feels like a recognition of my achievements and of where I am now. Winning the award would be a look into the future, because it would offer me a stage par excellence to express my vision.
What role has your background played in your (school) career so far?
Because I come from a disadvantaged neighbourhood and from a large family, I grew up thinking: "Brutal people own half of the world." If you want something, but don’t do it yourself, it probably won’t happen. As the first one in my family to go to college, this thought strengthened me in my career. As a first generation student, I was very independent, and looked for ways to develop myself and to move forward. So I learned from my background that you have to see, exploit and create opportunities yourself.
Who were your role models or inspiring mentors? And why?
My parents have been my role models. They taught me to always persevere. It was incredibly difficult for my parents to start over in a new, unknown country, but they have given everything since their arrival in the Netherlands, and endured a lot of difficulties to give their children the best future.
What can businesses improve when it comes to diversity?
I am not convinced that there is a diversity-blueprint that can be applied to every company. Companies simply differ too much. Most importantly, though, it is not enough to create awareness, you also need to maintain it. Employees must be made aware of and remain committed to diversity at different levels within a company. After all, it is not only important that employees with different backgrounds join the company, but also that these employees feel accepted and welcomed within the company, and enjoy working there. Diversity, therefore, actually requires a change in the corporate culture.
Finally, it is essential that companies realise that the goal of diversity is a never-ending process. In our constantly changing society, it can take years for change to take place.
What aspect of your background do you find valuable for the business world?
My elementary school was known as a so-called "black school", while my high school was known as a so-called "white school". The fact that I had to deal with many different people from a young age, has shaped me, and made me open to everyone. I consider other opinions than mine as a valuable addition, and I have learned that by discussing constructively, you are able to achieve a much better result. Within the business world, I think that this open-minded and constructive attitude is useful, and that it is important to listen to each other, so that we keep each other on our toes and approach matters integrally.
What are your ambitions for the future?
In the coming year, I expect to complete my studies in Law and Tax Law. Afterwards, I would like work as a legal professional. That is why I am currently exploring the job market to determine whether I want a job in the private or public sector. In the future, I would like a job where I can make a difference, keep learning, and further develop myself. I also think it is important to continue to contribute to society by doing voluntary work.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
It is good to have goals and to want to achieve them, but you cannot map everything out. I learned that you can come up with a lot of ideas and plans, but that things often go differently than you thought. As long as you learn how to deal with that and do not lose focus, you will be fine. There’s more than one road that leads to Rome. As the philosopher Nassim Taleb says, "The art of living is dealing with the unexpected."