“Diversity is the heart of what we do; diversity in terms of thought, experience, gender and geography,” says Nadeem Shaikh, the founder and CEO of Anthemis — an innovative financial services company that invests in innovation and creates sustainable long-term ecosystems that enable ideas to flourish. Anthemis advises, transforms and invests in businesses that are building better ways to design, produce, consume and distribute financial services in the information economy.
Anthemis is disrupting financial services by challenging the conservative and very traditional industry to open its eyes to the risks posed by rapid technological advances and ever-evolving consumer needs. The challenge is to turn these risks and unfolding dynamics into untapped business opportunities, which Nadeem believes are key to maintaining relevance in the 21st century’s digital landscape.
Anthemis was founded in 2010 in Luxembourg. Today the firm has offices in Geneva, London and New York. It boasts a diversified portfolio of investments in over 40 high-potential digital-native financial services companies based around the world, highlighting Anthemis’ global reach and commitment to diversity. The firm believes in not just providing clients with the financial resources to elevate their businesses, but also upskilling and empowering them with key Fintech (financial technology) insights and strategic solutions.
Pakistan-born Nadeem has lived in over 10 countries, including Malta, Jordan and the US but currently calls England home. He is a computer science and finance graduate from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany and completed his MBA with the London Business School in 1995.
He has over 20 years’ experience in financial services and information technology, having held various strategic senior management positions, including heading up a global entity that was responsible for over 6,000 employees in 20 countries and with an annual revenue exceeding USD 1 billion. It is this wealth of knowledge and global experience that motivates him to explore somewhat unconventional opportunities, with some of Anthemis’ investments supporting the confluence of silo industries such as healthcare, insurance, education and finance.
He is excited about redefining financial services and being a part of how this field re-invents itself. “The idea of being able to create something that I could influence; pursue the vision and passion that I felt; create the cultural dynamics, long-term visions and objectives in line with the long-term industry impact that I wanted to make” are what drove Nadeem to explore entrepreneurship and establish his own company.
Nadeem’s passion for making a meaningful impact is also seen in his involvement with charitable organizations such as Citizens Foundations, CARE and Prospero World. CARE is Pakistan’s oldest NGO and aims “to provide quality and marketable education to all.” It currently runs over 750 schools representing 325,000 learners across primary and secondary levels.
Nadeem has been involved with the organization since 2010. He sits on the board of advisors for the organization’s UK chapter and is keenly involved in fundraising initiatives to support CARE’s pioneer work in Pakistan. Education is close to his heart, as he believes that “educating the next generation is key to society’s long-term transformation.”
In 2015, Nadeem was asked to join Prospero World’s board of advisors. He accepted the offer after being impressed by the passion displayed by the organization’s founders in executing their work. Prospero World is “committed to promoting social change through community-based activity and public education,” using in-depth research to provide bespoke philanthropic advice to companies, foundations and individuals needing assistance with how to structure their initiatives. Nadeem’s work with Prospero World means he is involved in the development of and funding of NGOs around the world and works on various international projects. On working with the organization, he says: “I really enjoy working with the team… helping them to create a sustainable focus with a business-like approach while specializing on the arts and creative industries as a means to create social change.”
When not dedicating time to running Anthemis and serving on various boards, Nadeem enjoys spending time with his wife and three children. The avid cricket fan and Manchester United supporter believes that life should be kept simple and be thought of as a collection of moments. “I try to make each moment as memorable as possible,” he reflects.
Nadeem is a strong proponent of living life with purpose and passion: “You have to do what you are passionate about. I am a firm believer in manufactured serendipity, faith and good karma. If you approach life with this mindset and these values, you find yourself surrounded by amazing people who are making a tremendous difference in whatever it is they are doing.”