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Motivational Monday: MBA student

Our latest Motivational Monday is with Ziba Sarikhani (class of 2007) who recently returned to South Hampstead (virtually) to speak to students seeking to study Economics at Oxbridge.  Ziba has worked in corporate finance and for her family businesses. She is currently studying for an MBA at the London Business School.

While at South Hampstead, Ziba studied Maths, Further Maths, Economics and History of Art for A Level. “I have fond memories of Mr Mackintosh, who sparked my interest in Economics, and of Mrs Kennedy, who opened up my eyes to the histories behind beautiful paintings,” she recalls. “Both are subjects I still actively pursue today professionally, and in my free time.” Ziba was encouraged by her teachers to take Further Maths to challenge herself. “Looking back, I can see that studying Further Maths was a key formative growth experience that really stretched and pushed me. You can achieve anything if you enjoy it and you put your mind to it!”

Ziba went on to study Land Economy at Cambridge University which led to a career in Finance, first as a Research Analyst in the wealth management sector, and then as a M&A Analyst. “When I graduated, I knew that I wanted to be qualified enough to work in the investment side of my family business and needed experience in the Finance sector to be able to do this. I remember thinking that ‘Finance’ seemed like such a big word and what did it really mean? What are the real range of opportunities out there? Working as an Analyst, I started to better understand the depth of the sector and which elements attracted me.”

In 2016, Ziba was hired into her family business. “The most rewarding aspect of my job is the building process. I love getting stuck into building out our family office, and seeing it come together as something that strengthens us in our future ambitions, and as a family. I love taking on new challenges, as even though it can feel unsettling at times, it is when I feel that I am really growing,” she says passionately. Four years on, Ziba is studying for an MBA alongside her role as a Company Director. “I chose to study for an MBA because, as South Hampstead taught me, I want to make sure that I am doing my job to the best of my ability. My MBA not only qualifies me more technically, it also allows me to build connections and broadens my world. It challenges and pushes me, building me into a better leader and a better investor.”

Ziba feels that her time at school positively shaped her character and decision-making process in her adult life. “South Hampstead instilled a quiet confidence deep within me that has given me the freedom to be my own person and do things in my own way. For example, although I work in finance I do not feel pressure to conform to a mould, or suppress aspects of myself to fit in. This has often allowed me to think outside of the box and add a very different value to my work. School also developed my determination (often commented on!) and gave me the belief that I can really achieve anything. It showed me that it is not the path you choose, but making sure you do it really, really well, that counts. I am also immensely grateful for the friendships that I formed at school. My SHHS friends remain my closest friends and are all supportive, driven, bold and inspirational women.”

Ziba’s advises current South Hampstead students that “you do not need to know exactly what you want to do right now. Even if you think you do, it will constantly evolve, as your exposure and self-knowledge grows. There is no fixed destination. Take courage in the uncertainty and accept that change will be your lifelong companion. And make sure you are having fun along the way – life is for the living!”


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