When Khalid Omar first came to Britain he could barely speak a word of English. Today, less than 10 years later, he has just graduated from the University of Manchester with a BSc Accounting after becoming the first member of his extended family to ever attend university.
Khalid’s parents were Somali refugees and first settled in Holland before moving to Manchester when he was aged 12. Khalid admits that he went through some difficult teenage years and it was a struggle to keep out of trouble, but thanks to the support of his parents he grew determined to make a better life for himself.
“My parents can hardly speak any English and although they didn’t really understand the British education system when they came here they knew how important it was for me to have a good education. As the youngest of their nine children they were determined that I should stay in education and try to get to university.”
The big breakthrough for Khalid was passing his GCSEs, and since then he has never looked back, gaining A-levels in accountancy, economics and maths before his degree. His decision to study accountancy was strongly influenced by his personal experience of the family’s news agency business. “I really enjoyed helping out with the financial side of the business and going through all the numbers with my father.”
During his degree Khalid was the first beneficiary of the ICAEW Foundation Geoffrey Beckingham FCA bursary, an award of £3,000 a year to support talented disadvantaged students wishing to study finance and accounting.
Having graduated he has now secured a training contract with the DTE Group of accountants in Bury and has ambitious plans for the future. “One day I would like to set up my own accountancy practice and particularly help the Somali community. I see a lot of Somali people opening their own businesses in Manchester and feel that I could really help them. I think my story shows that, whatever your background, if you really want something you can make it happen.”
As part of The ICAEW Foundation bursary programme in partnership with PwC, the Foundation has also recently supported Manchester University graduate Rubab Riaz who studied BA (Econ) Accounting.