Interview Raz Ahmad
Raz Ahmad is one of the three nominees for the ECHO Award in the Loyens & Loeff Law & Tax category.
What does the nomination mean to you?
I saw the Award passing by last year and I found it a very special and beautiful initiative. To me, this award is a recognition of my achievements. I started at mbo-level and never imagined it to be a possibility to get to Law School. I also consider this nomination to be an opportunity to reflect on diversity in society. This nomination has made me aware of what role I can play in diversity matters, and it has made me aware of how I can contribute to my field of work in the future.
What role has your background played in your (school) career so far?
I moved to the Netherlands when I was three years old. So I actually grew up here, which might give the impression that being born somewhere else does not have any impact. But it does have a big impact to see your parents give up their families and start over somewhere else. In high school, I had a hard time finding a field that I could be interested in. Once I started at mbo after high school, I grew a lot of determination to climb up. To retain this determination through those years, I realized it would take a lot of passion. And I found that passion in the law. The fact that everything I wanted to accomplish took a lot of commitment, has made me a hard worker.. My background and my parent’s background has taught me that nothing comes easy, but that working hard and having a passion for something will get you there in the end.
Who were your role models or inspiring mentors? And why?
I always consider powerful women to be inspiring. This varies from women in my family who have combined their careers with raising a family, to women in the legal field who have reached high positions. I find a lot of strength in these kinds of women, who are able to raise the bar but also help and inspire others to reach their goals.
What can businesses improve when it comes to diversity?
From my point of view, businesses do not have as much difficulties with putting together a diverse team as they do in making everyone feel included in their organisation. It is easy to reach certain percentages, but the real issue is actually making sure that everyone already involved in the company feels more included. Businesses can be more diverse, but this is not the only challenge. There should be more focus on building bridges between all employees, and make everyone involved more aware of how much that is needed.
What aspect of your background do you find valuable for the business world?
I find it valuable that I have the resilience to find other ways when a plan you made for yourself does not work out. In the past, I always thought it was a disappointment that I was not able to get to Law School following the usual educational path and that I had to make a detour of a few years. But for me, in the end, layering all the educational levels to get to Law School has become an advantage. I know all the steps of the system and I had the chance to compare many aspects of society. I think that this aspect of my background is valuable to the business world, it has taught me to think outside the box.
What are your ambitions for the future?
My ambition for the near future is to become a lawyer, after obtaining my master’s degree. But this is not the whole picture. The position of women in the field of law has become a very important subject to me; and thanks to my nomination for this award, I have further developed my knowledge of this subject. The past couple of years in Law School, I got to meet very inspiring women such as professors at the university and female partners in law firms, who made me aware that there is still a lot of improvement needed when it comes to diversity within businesses and universities, for example. There is a high level of under-representation of women in the workforce. My ambition is to use my future position as a lawyer to make improvements in this area possible.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would give myself the advice to not always jump to negative conclusions about my capabilities, just because I am not instantly good at something. In high school, I was very bad at beta-courses, and I thought this would affect my future. My advice to my younger self would be to be patient and make more of an effort to discover my talents.