Shama Zehra is the founder and CEO of newly-launched Aligned Independent Advisors, a boutique independent advisory firm on Wall Street. She is not stumbled by the male-dominated area of finance, with only 13% of brokers and advisors are female.
She started her first business when she was a teenager, a clothing company with her mom and sister in the corner of her apartment in Pakistan. The company grew bigger and they finally opened up a small factory with almost 6 staffs. It grew so big that it became a flagship store and supplied to Pakistani’s 5 star hotels.
Zehra says ” Pakistan is a very male-dominated society so over there a man rules, so that was one of the biggest challenges”. Moreover it was also difficult negotiating constant security problems, thefts as well as electricity blackouts which meant the machines couldn’t run. These were the majors reasons because of which she sold the company.
After that, Zehra got into finance. She built the number one wealth management business at Standard Chartered Bank in Pakistan before emigrating to the U.S to work with ultra high net worth individuals at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. That was a huge opportunity for her.
With her latest venture, Aligned Independent Advisors, Zehra says she’s building a firm that’s totally independent but has a human touch, something she thinks has been lacking. She says “It’s easy to find smart people in finance but it’s difficult to find good hearted, helpful and sincere people ”.
On Entrepreneurship she says “Once you have your own business you really understand how to treat every job. I’ve always treated every job that I’ve had like my own company or my own business and that really does change the dynamic…as an entrepreneur you’ve got to do everything to make it work.”
Delivering a very good lesson for entrepreneur: do not treat any job inferior, by syncing and treating every job with importance. The thinking and lookout of a person changes when they start their own business and that changes the whole dynamics.