Sobia Sheikh, Finance Manager, Sodexo

By Anam Abdulla | Stories

Nov 17
Sobia is originally from Islamabad, Pakistan but was raised in an exotic island called Seychelles. Her family later moved to the US in 2008 where she completed her bachelors in Accounting and Finance in just 3 years with Cum laude distinction from NC State University.
Sobia got married soon after and started working as an accountant at a non-profit organization in NY which worked in partnership with families and communities to empower people to achieve economic self-sufficiency and an improved quality of life. She also briefly worked for the National Center for Security and Preparedness as a Policy Analyst, where she was hired mainly to develop their major standard operating procedures.
After moving to the DC area she joined Sodexo – A worldwide leader in quality of life services and 19th largest employer worldwide as a financial analyst and was quickly promoted to a Finance Manager in a little under two years.
Her goals in life are to be a strong role model for her two children and raise a good family. In addition, she is very passionate about helping women in Pakistan become independent/self-sufficient particularly in the rural areas. She believes women in Pakistan have tremendous skills and expertise which when marketed and exposed through the right channel can help them improve their quality of life. Her goal is to establish a platform where she work directly with such women in Pakistan and help recognize their work on an international level.

1. What inspired you pursue a career in Finance/Accounting? What is the best part about your role?

Watching my father as a successful banker over the years while I was growing up inspired me to follow his footsteps and pursue a career in Finance/Accounting. His numerous professional achievements were always a driving force in helping me choose my career path.

The best part about my role is that it is very broad and high level. I have the flexibility to think outside the box and present my point of view. I work by the famous saying “instead of thinking outside the box, get rid of the box”

2. What are some of the main challenges you have faced while pursuing your career goals? How have you dealt with these challenges?

Since I had to move to different states a couple of times after graduating from college I found it difficult to enter the workforce without having any network/contacts in that area. It made me realize the importance of having a strong network not just locally but on a regional level.

It definitely took a lot of hard work ranging from researching and reaching out to local companies/individuals that helped me slowly build my network.

3. You worked in the non-profit sector and are now in the private sector. Often the switch from the non-profit to the private sector is considered difficult. Can you tell us about your experiences and how you were able to successfully make the transition?

The mindset is definitely different between the non-profit and private sector along with the differences in accounting. I think it is mainly considered different in terms of the accounting practices used. Luckily I transitioned to a more Finance based role when switching from the non-profit accounting role so I did not have to face much difficulty.

4. You are working full time while raising two beautiful children. How are you able to manage your time between work and family? Do you have any tips for working mothers that you would like to share with our readers?

There is an immense amount of sacrifice involved when a woman decides to be a working mother. It definitely is hard but not at all impossible. I have a great amount of help from my in-laws and husband which makes it all easier. I try to keep work affairs separate from my family life. My roles switch from Finance Manager to Mom as soon as I enter my home.

5. Are there any other networks you have been a part of which have helped you learn and develop your skills and experiences?

I am part of the Toastmasters organization which has drastically helped me to improve my public speaking and leadership skills.

6. What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve ever received? Do you have any advice for our readers who want to pursue a career in Finance/Accounting?

“Things usually do not happen overnight. It takes time, patience, and hard work”- This piece of advice has always stuck by me and proven to be true. It took a great amount of sacrifice and hard work to reach the point where I am today.

My advice would be to not just look at accounting as a career with numbers and getting the math right. Focus on the bigger picture, believe in what you do and have a strong ambition especially while interviewing with your dream companies.

Some short-answer questions for our readers:

  • Success to me means ….teaching my kids new concepts about life
  • The top three skills that have helped me succeed are …Patience, Passion, and Optimism
  • My favorite quote/words I live by ….”Life is about making an impact, not making an income”- Kevin Kruse