Alum of the Month - December 2016

Zahira Jaser

After a career in banking I can say that at the LSE I found my voice. Zahira Jaser
  • Programme studied: MSc Organisational Behaviour
  • Year of Graduation: 2012

What's your current job?

I am a Visiting Lecturer at Cass Business School (where I also research leadership and followership, as a PhD Fellow), a Guest Teacher at the LSE and Queen Mary University. I also consult companies on executive education, and team development.

Where have you worked previously?

This is my second career. Until 2011 I worked as a banker, at JP Morgan, Societe Generale (in global markets, trading floor) and Barclays (in private banking) for a total of 15 years.

What made you decide to change careers and how did your programme help you in this? 

As an Italian/Arabic woman with two children, having a career on the trading floor in investment banking, and managing a global team in private banking, was a pretty amazing self-reflective journey. Not only I had to continuously keep an open mind and appraise myself versus a predominantly masculine model, but I also learnt to challenge other’s biases about gender, culture and performance. Taking the MSc in Organisational Behaviour was a solid continuation in this path of self-development; the master provided me with the theoretical and practical tool to make sense of the fast-paced 15 years in banking, and become articulate about the challenges that people face in modern organizations. It provided me with a chance to change direction, follow my heart and enter the world of academia.

What was it like to return to the department as a Guest Teacher?

I am extremely proud to be still associated to the LSE as a Guest Teacher, it almost feels like giving back.  It’s a real pleasure to be in the classroom with the talented and diverse body of students that attend the LSE. Every class is a real opportunity for change. 

What's the best piece of advice you ever received?

The best piece of advice was: 1) understand what your strengths are through self-reflection; 2) choose a career path, which is aligned to these strengths; 3) make sure you have a broader sense of purpose in choosing this path. If you do these three things you become unstoppable.

Do you have any hobbies or projects outside of work? 

I love walking in woods, and on the hills, and spend time with family and friends. I also love networking with likeminded people in global academic conferences.

As we celebrate our 10 Year Anniversary for the Department of Management, what are some of your key memories from your time spent here, and why do you think it is important to remain connected to LSE?

After a career in banking I can say that at the LSE I found my voice. The freedom of mind, we are allowed to exercise in institutions such as the LSE, is a gift we should never take for granted. For more than a century intellectuals and educators have cultivated an environment where minds could meet and ideas for the improvement of the world can be exchanged. Being part of this community is quite unique.