Zeenat (Manji) Chohan
“As an immigrant, I learnt to embrace what is new, often scary, but rich with possibility.”
My story began in my native east Africa – a land that exposed me from the outset to diverse cultures and languages.
Raised in an entrepreneurial family, in the foothills of Kilimanjaro, I was encouraged to venture out and explore. This ‘urge to discover’ guided my next chapter when, with my wider family, I emigrated to Canada. Like most immigrants, I began at the bottom (in a large global financial institution), where I specialised in computer programming – a source of true fascination.
Encouraged by my managers, I grew into new roles where I could exercise leadership in technology and business strategy as well as organizational and process design. A people person, I reached across functional lines to draw people together in pursuit of transformational change.
My many years in a major bank taught me the value that complex businesses can deliver at their best, yet how frustrating they can be to employees who want to make a difference. Although I now serve as an outside advisor, my focus has not changed – to learn continuously, explore the unexplored, and help people pursue new directions to make the most of shifting winds and emerging opportunities.
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My Not-Yet-Fulfilled Dream
In every generation, too many children lack the opportunities shared by some of their more fortunate peers. I dream of a world in which each new cohort of youth steps up to teach and mentor struggling kids from the next generation. Many more could access the education and support they need for their own success and for contributing to society at large. Their mentors would also gain profound life lessons from this experience.