Asma Bashir | 40 Outstanding Global Women 2023
Too few organisations are taking diversity and equality seriously, and for many, promoting women is just a tick-box exercise, says Asma Bashir, co-founder of Centuro Global.
Asma, who has huge amounts of experience advising clients around the globe, says that the problem is that corporate culture hasn’t got time for people and fails to make the real changes and innovations that are needed to enable change.
“Women perform well when managers show that they understand their needs and the pressures they face. You have to be open with people and maintain consistent communication to help them feel safe and secure in the workplace.”
Asma Bashir, co-founder of Centuro Global
Companies need to move from words to action – and start by listening
“Companies are only as strong as their employees and at the moment too many businesses are visible and vocal about making statements, but there is no evidence that those changes translate through internally,” she says.
“For example, with women, they perform well when managers show that they understand their needs and the pressures they face. You can’t get away from the fact that women juggle family and career, but their importance in the workplace is often understated. You have to be open with people and maintain consistent communication to help them feel safe and secure in the workplace. When people feel comfortable, and you create a level of trust in the team and the organisation, then people feel invested into what the organisation is doing.”
Asma began with a career in law and started her own company in 2004, Newland Chase. This entity grew to become a global business supporting multinational clients around the world. Her business was then acquired in 2015 and she remained as the Global Head continuing to grow the company to offices worldwide until 2017.
Asma co-founded Centuro Global, a company which simplifies the international expansion journey by bringing together up to date advice on requirements and process for new market entry in an innovative and revolutionary technology platform. She is a serial entrepreneur as well as an investor and continues to work with companies entering new markets globally advising on risk and compliance.
She is a mentor on the Mayor’s International Business Programme as well as a Senator for the World Business Angel Forum. Asma has worked with both multinational clients and SMEs to help them expand into complex regions across the world.
During her early years Asma did not have the privilege of an easy education.
She had to study for her law degree by working during the day and studying at night because, having come from a culturally strict family, she had been expected to marry young rather than go to university.
“I did go slightly against the grain and challenge the status quo because I didn’t understand why I couldn’t study further,” she explains. “I was a bit more rebellious than the average child. I got a job as an intern at a law firm and studied in the evenings.
“I had an inner voice that kept telling me to spread my wings further. I think when you’ve gone through the problems that I’ve had, you’ve got to have grit, to have mental strength to be able to get through difficulties.
“I have a strong sense of responsibility and accountability and the desire to succeed which is what drives me. I also like to inspire and motivate others and building teams that are high achievers. I like listening to the team and their ideas and creativity which help me with my own continued learning.”
At the heart of Centuro Global is a technology platform that can help clients with challenges around global mobility, workforce solutions, immigration, tax, and setting up entities in a variety of overseas regions.
“I like to mentor and to empower people in my leadership role,” she says. “I’m good at giving ideas and suggestions and then letting people go away and come back with a solution. When you empower people and give them the tools to succeed then everyone wins.”
She says in today’s commercial world you need to be quick on your feet.
“You’ve got to think what is it that your clients are looking for? Listen carefully and thoughtfully and offer bespoke strategic solutions. Clients want to see value and impact so providing advice that they cannot get anywhere else leads to loyalty and long-term relationships. I have been called “Yoda” by a client once because they felt they could come to me with any problem and I would offer an instant answer without reference to anything.”
Her advice to young women starting out in their career is to “stand your ground and be clear on what you want”.
“If there is something you set out to achieve, and you want it bad enough, you’ve got to find a way to get it,” she says. “Life is always going to be full of challenges and there will be many hurdles, but you cannot be deterred from what you want to achieve.
“I’ve always been a risk taker, and I’ve never cared about the consequences, especially since I had to endure so many hardships early on. I always say to myself, am I going to take this risk, what’s the worst that can happen and can I handle it? Could I deal with the worst case scenario? And if the answer is yes I can handle the worst case scenario then I’ll go ahead and take the risk. I have had to be pretty fearless which has led me to where I am today.”