MBA spurs passion for social development

Jun 11, 2013

The following story was published by SFU News on June 10, 2013.

Zain Nayani

MBA graduate Zain Nayani has dedicated his career to social development — and his SFU education is helping him take this passion to the next level.

Originally from Pakistan, Nayani worked in the finance field in his home country before deciding that his career needed a new direction.

“I started to devote a lot of my time to working with developmental organizations, and it just clicked with what I was thinking,” says Nayani, who undertook some projects for the Agha Khan Development Network.

He eventually decided to quit finance and find a way to marry his business and financial skills with social-sector development.

“I realized the SFU MBA would provide me with a perfect opportunity to do that.”

During his MBA studies, Nayani targeted opportunities to assist underprivileged and distressed communities in achieving self-sustaining development.

For the MBA program’s internship, he landed an eight-month advisory position with the Kanaka Bar Indian Band, a small First Nations community in B.C.  He was tasked with developing and implementing much-needed governance, election, membership and financial management policies for the community.

With relatively little experience in the field, it was a task that required him to think on his feet.

His MBA education clearly paid dividends, however — he has since been offered a full-time position as CEO of the community and its business entities.

“The internship was essentially a test to see if I could do the job long-term. There were some hard times, but I was able to gain the trust of the community, which enabled me to navigate the challenges I was faced with.”

Despite achieving his goal of working in the social sector, Nayani is under no illusions that he can sit back and relax.

“I came here with a vision in my head that I would work in the social sector and I have done that, but I’m making decisions that directly affect around 200 people living on and off reserve,” he says. “The challenge now is to make sure no one suffers because of the decisions I make.”

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