Leadership is About Understanding People
Even though it has only been eight years since Arbab Dar (33) graduated from BI, he is already in his second top leadership position within finance.
Position: Chief Financial Officer
Employer: Avida FinanceMaster in Accounting and Auditing (2010)
People are different and ought to be treated accordingly. The most important is to create a healthy performance culture.
«I haven't always been aware of the direction to take. Opportunities just showed up and I challenged myself to grab them, and to always do my best,» says Arbab Dar.
Dar's career began early. The first part-time job he had was when he was 12 years old and registered customers for a bookstore where his father worked as an accountant.
«My parents came to Norway as labour immigrants in the 1970s. There were six of us who lived in a small three-room apartment at Grünerløkka. Learning the value of hard work at an early age has been a great strength for me.»
Dar himself isn't even quite sure how it all happened, but through the years he has often held various leadership positions. After nine months as Finance Controller in Nordea, the young accountant was chosen to be the Norwegian company's new Finance Director (CFO).
In 2016, E24 named him one of the most talented young leaders in Norway.
«The recognition absolutely had an influence and has opened a few doors. But most important of all was the acknowledgement and confirmation of all the hard work. It also raised my expectations for my choices. From now on, I would rather work towards leadership roles than specialist roles.»
The talented leader is now on his way to another top position as CFO for the Nordic company Avia Finance with operations in Sweden, Norway and Finland.
«I had a general interest for numbers and thought economics was fascinating. My choice, therefore, naturally fell for a degree in auditing at BI, and I have no regrets. The network and friendships throughout my years of study has meant a great deal, also for my career.»
It wasn't that Dar absolutely had to be an auditor. But after making his choice, he embraced the role wholeheartedly – also to change the stereotype connected with it.
«There are many myths about auditors. They aren't necessarily described as the coolest people. But auditors are everything but boring. Auditing is so much more than just checking numbers. It is about meeting people and understanding what motivates them. Because, when you review the numbers of a company, you review something someone has created – a place where people create something of value.
According to Dar, a good leader should understand what motivates individual employees. The goal is to encourage individuals to perform to their possible best.
«People are different and ought to be treated accordingly. It is important to create a healthy performance culture.»
The CFO believes leaders themselves choose how they will fill the role. Do you want to be someone who points and commands or are you a part of pulling the load? Dar thinks that a leader should never forget that they are part of a team. When things are going well, it is the team that needs to be rewarded.
«But if something goes wrong, it is extremely important that I as the leader assume the necessary responsibility and ensure that the team learns and grows from it. Generally, it is very ineffective to blame a scapegoat.»
Dar believes the leader's role is important, also outside the office. Waiting at home is his 1 ½-year-old daughter and the decision to take parental leave was an important part of his leadership responsibility.
«I have thought over the debate about parental leave being a career stopper. I believe it is important to take responsibility and show that it is possible to take parental leave. A leader ought to be a good role model and I wouldn't suggest anything else,» says Dar.
In only a few years, Dar has achieved more in his career than most do during their lifetime. He now wishes to use his position to have an impact on the structure of managerial groups and board rooms, to create greater diversity among Norwegian leaders.
According to Dar, companies have better initial conditions to succeed if they represent the society they operate in.
«I saw an interview with the Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau where he was asked about the diversity of his staff. Trudeau just answered, 'this is Canada.' I am so inspired by that. Because, I believe that is how you succeed. Diversity is extremely important.»