‘You Inspire Us’ Suhail Ahmad – EBS

When I moved to Scotland (in 2010) to start at Edinburgh Business School (EBS), we were expecting our third born (child). I had my first business school exam (Organisational Behaviour), and my wife actually went into labour! As soon as I got out of the exam, I turned my phone on, it was my wife saying ‘you’ve got to come home ASAP!’

That was the year that Scotland had one of the worst snowstorms in history. Guys from my class pushed the car out so I could actually get home and on the same day our son, Rayyan was born. 


My name is Suhail Ahmad, I’m the founder and CEO of Financial Network and I’ve been an entrepreneur since junior high (school) when I was trading hockey cards (in addition to running promotional products printing business). 

In 2012 I created a company after graduating from EBS where we were developing analytical solutions (quantitative analytics) to help people make better investment decisions.

And then we realised it was going to be a challenge for us to commercialise (without significant and expensive external funding) and that gave me the idea for Financial Network where we needed (to create) a process (for start-ups) that supports the development of these commercial technologies (and businesses).


I came from a financial services background which means (and) I’ve worked with the largest financial institution in Canada (RBC Financial). But when you’re able to step away and work with businesses (big and small) that are actually out there trying to provide a product or service in the marketplace, and you’re able to accelerate that growth (through process improvements, training, and advice), it makes it much more worthwhile. We’re trying to make sure that the small guy or the ‘Davids’ of the world get the same fighting chance as the Goliaths.

Work-life Balance

My family has been very supportive, particularly my wife who has been very patient with me. The way that I try to balance (work-life) is that I try to get the family involved. One of the great things is that my wife is a much better peoples person than I am, she’s able to fill that gap and help me in that area of the business.

For my daughter, it’s a great opportunity for her to learn and to explore her creative side and become a little bit more involved in the marketing (of the business). My family understands that I’ve got the entrepreneurial bug. You have to make sure that your family is behind you (otherwise it’s very difficult to dedicate the time and energy required to develop a successful business). 

Focus on Value Creation

In a digital economy, there are no borders. What I’d love to do over the next ten years (and beyond) is to focus on developing the business, because through that business I can actually support all these other businesses (our clients) that are creating amazing products to improve (the) lives (of people).

Having the privilege of education and living in the developed world, we have an obligation to use our knowledge to make a (positive) impact, because there are so many people that don’t get that opportunity (of education).

We have an opportunity to do good and create products and services, literally saving hundreds of billions of dollars (through value creation) and that money can go back into the economy and hopefully back into more education, healthcare and improving the lives of people.

You can view the official video on Edinburgh Business School’s website at https://bit.ly/suhail_ahmad

Grit: Key to Success

Ten days ago on a beautiful Saturday morning, I did something I had never done before. It was actually something I wouldn’t even have considered doing a year ago.

I participated in a 12 km run through the forest, rivers, and muddy ponds of Scotland whilst overcoming 60+ odd obstacles along the way. Did I mention the mud?

Considering I had never run more than 5 km’s prior to the event, plodding along in treacherous mud, was a physically demanding experience, to say the least. Successfully completing the run which is known as the Lanrick Challenge didn’t require much skill on my part. It was a pure test of resilience in the face of difficulty. It was all about grit.

Grit can be defined as our ability to persevere in the face of adversity. We often attribute talent as the key to success in but in fact, it is our grit and ability to persevere that enable us to succeed in business and life.

Professor Angela Duckworth at the University of Pennsylvania, who is the founder of a non-profit organisation called the Character Lab, and author of Grit: The Power of Passion and perseverance has done a wonderful explaining the power of grit over talent.

In her book, Angela demonstrates how our level of success in life depends not so much on talent but on our grit; “it isn’t how quickly or easily you get better at something but it’s the quality and quantity of your engagement. In a way, you can think of talent and effort being the two things that, in combination, create skill.”

So whether we’re doing a 12 km run through the Scottish backcountry, launching a technology start-up, or implementing a change programme in a large organisation; our success will not be determined by our talent alone but by our grit to make it to the finish line no matter how muddy it gets!

Ps. For the record, I wasn’t sponsored by the CME Group. Just my lucky cap from the good old investment banking days. Many thanks to my Managing Partner at Exolta Russell Dalgleish for inspiring me to take the challenge and also for the generosity of family and friends for the sponsorships which helped me raise almost £200 for Scottish Air Ambulance and The Sandpiper Trust.

Giving It Away

I applaud Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla’s announcement this week to give away 99% of their Facebook shares to a new charitable foundation. The news brought to the forefront the Giving Pledge initiative started by Bill Gates and my mentor Warren Buffett. The duo challenged the world’s richest families to join them in not hoarding their money but using it for the greater good.

Bill and Melinda Gates said in a statement after the Zuckerberg-Chan news said: “As for your decision to give back so generously, and to deepen your commitment now, the first word that comes to mind is: Wow. The example you’re setting today is an inspiration to us and the world. We can be confident of this: Max and every child born today will grow up in a world that is better than the one we know now. As you say, ‘seeds planted now will grow.’ Your work will bear fruit for many decades to come.”

Added Buffett in a statement: “A combination of brains, passion and resources on this scale will change the lives of millions. On behalf of future generations, I thank them.”

Now you don’t have to be a billionaire to pledge and make a difference. Each and every one of us can make a commitment to be more responsible with our money and making sure we give it away while we can.

To inspire us we have the likes of Zuckerberg and according the Generosity Index (calculated as the ratio of lifetime donations to current net worth in U.S. dollar figures), there are many unsung heroes who have truly made a sacrifice and given away the vast majority of their fortune during their lifetime.

Ranking in absolute dollar terms, they most generous as posted on Business Insider are:

1. Bill Gates

Co-founder of Microsoft

Lifetime donations: $27-billion

Net worth: $84.2-billion

Generosity Index*: 32%

2. Warren Buffett

Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway

Lifetime donations: $21.5-billion

Net worth: $61-billion

Generosity Index: 35%

3. George Soros

Retired founder of Soros Fund Management

Lifetime donations: $8-billion

Net worth: $24.4 billion

Generosity Index: 33%

4. Azim Premji

Chairman of Indian consulting and IT company Wipro

Lifetime donations: $8-billion

Net worth: $15.9-billion

Generosity Index: 50%

5. Charles Francis Feeney

Retail magnate

Lifetime donations: $6.3-billion

Net worth: $1.5-million

Generosity Index: 420,000%

6. Sulaiman bin Abdul

Aziz Al Rajhi

Co-founder of Al Rajhi Bank

Lifetime donations: $5.7-billion

Net worth: $590-million

Generosity Index: 966%

7. Gordon Moore

Co-founder of Intel

Lifetime donations: $5-billion

Net worth: $6.5-billion

Generosity Index: 77%

8. Carlos Slim Helú

Chairman of Grupo Carso

Lifetime donations: $4-billion

Net worth: $27.3 billion

Generosity Index: 15%

9. Eli Broad

Former CEO of SunAmerica

Lifetime donations: $3.3-billion

Net worth: $7.3-billion

Generosity Index: 45%

10. George Kaiser

Chairman of BOK Financial Corp.

Lifetime donations: $3.3-billion

Net worth: $9.3-billion

Generosity Index: 35%

13. Mark Zuckerberg*

Founder and CEO of Facebook

Lifetime donations: $1.6-billion

Net worth: $40.7-billion

Generosity Index: 4%