At the age of 20, Dubai-based audit associate Taha Nadeem already has an impressive resumé behind him – and an admirable work ethic
Like most of his fellow ACA students, Taha Nadeem is not afraid of hard work. “I’m very motivated and focused,” he says. “I have certain goals for my career, things that I want to achieve, and I’m always committed. That’s just the way I am.”
Brought up in Saudi Arabia, he studied IGCSEs, AS and A levels at New World International School in Al Khobar, which follows a UK curriculum. “Cambridge Assessment International Education is the gold standard,” he explains. “It gives an excellent foundation, and is recognised by top universities and institutions like ICAEW.”
At school, Taha’s work ethic was already evident, earning him an award for the highest mark in the region for his accounting A level. It was his favourite subject, so pursuing a career in finance was a clear choice.
Keen to begin his ACA training at a young age, he relocated to the United Arab Emirates in March 2019 to continue his studies. “Dubai was the right place for my professional and career growth,” he explains. For the past year, he has been in a training agreement at Crowe UAE – and at the age of 19 was the youngest audit associate the firm had ever taken on.
“What I love most about Crowe UAE is the amazing company of people who always care for, support and mentor me,” he says. “I’m grateful to be working under the excellent leadership of Saad Maniar, the senior partner at Crowe UAE, and proud to be working in the Dubai International Financial Centre, which is the leading financial hub for the Middle East.”
As an audit associate, Taha is responsible for planning audits for both external and internal audit clients, working on financial statements, concluding audits and reviewing regulatory reports. The past year has of course brought its own challenges, with the team working remotely and unable to visit clients. “I have missed face-to-face interaction with my colleagues and friends,” he says. “Hopefully things are getting back to normal now in Dubai, and we expect to be able to visit clients again soon.”
As well as getting to grips with his new role, Taha was keen to complete the ICAEW CFAB qualification, which he did in August 2020. “A levels gave me a strong foundation for self-study,” he says. “I wanted to complete the ICAEW CFAB because of the course flexibility and the well-structured support and guidance I got from ICAEW. With consistent hard work and perseverance, I finished within seven or eight months, travelling back and forth to Riyadh each month to sit my exams.”
Having now passed 10 ACA exams, including the six Certificate Level exams completed as part of the ICAEW CFAB qualification, he is well on his way to becoming a chartered accountant. He plans to stay in Dubai for at least the next three or four years, and to complete the ACA by 2022. “My father is my biggest inspiration: he is head of accounting and finance at his firm, and he motivated me to study for the ACA,” he says. “Chartered accountants are highly sought-after professionals. The ACA opens up different areas of specialisation, like audit or tax, and gives you the ability to work in any part of the world.”
Taha admits that balancing work and studying can be challenging at times. “I study after getting back from work, and there are some late nights,” he says. “It can be hard keeping up the productivity, and the exams are challenging, without a doubt. It requires endless hours of practice and hard work to pass each and every one, but so far I have completed 10 at the first attempt.”
He is fortunate, he says, to be surrounded by a good support network, both his ICAEW authorised training principal Zayd Maniar and the Middle East student community based in Dubai. He is also part of the CSR committee in the Student Council of PwC’s Academy, organising socially responsible initiatives such as cleaning campaigns, working with children with special needs and providing food for the needy during Ramadan.
“Volunteering has helped me gain important social skills like empathy and teamwork,” he says. “I also learned about different cultures and ways of life, which has given me a greater sense of purpose towards my community.”
As if all that weren’t enough to keep him busy, Taha also volunteers as social media coordinator for the ICAEW Middle East Student Committee, acting as an ambassador and helping to raise the profile of ICAEW in the region. “I have recommended the ACA qualification to most of my friends and colleagues, because it helps develop the professional skills that are always in demand by employers,” he says.
Perhaps unsurprisingly for someone so committed, his advice for other students is simple: “Keep up the consistent hard work and it will come to fruition.”
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