Moving to a foreign country, for a student, is always challenging.
One enters a completely new system, is alien to the surrounding, and, in most cases, has no one to lean on for assistance.
Despite these obstacles, Nazmus Sakib Tareque, a headstrong Bangladeshi boy from Rajbari, made it to the University of Oxford.
Not letting his story end here, interestingly, he further chose to enter the corporate world, despite graduating from law school in the UK.
What makes his journey even more remarkable is that he accomplished all of this while being dyslexic.
"For me, it has always been a great degree of hard work mixed with a spoon of serendipity that made me get here. As soon as I completed LLB as the topper of my class, some of my teachers told me that this could be a great opportunity for me to get into Oxford and I should go for it," said Sakib in an interview with The Business Standard.
"But before that, I never thought about it. I never thought that I could even afford to go to Oxford," he added.
Sakib was brought up in Kalukhali of Rajbari where he finished his primary education. Being very concerned about his outgoing personality and involvement in extracurricular activities, Sakib's father sent him to madrasa, boarding school, cadet academy, and army school to discipline him.
However, Sakib believes that his traits and father's concern played an equal, if not greater, role in his success today.
Sakib used to add a different perspective to what the academic books offered; he would often implement knowledge learned from books outside the prescribed ones, talk to new people, and he thinks it is one of the reasons behind achieving academic excellence.
"The way parents in our country want their kids to memorise and repeat it in the exam, that does not make one a thinker. It makes them a puppet," said Sakib.
"I graduated as the topper of my law school. Then, I applied for a job in a city law firm for a summer placement. I went there, sat for the interview, and they did not ask a single question about my academic performance," he continued.
"The only thing they asked was about what I had done outside academia and it is what interested them about me," he added.
He believes that parents in our country often make the big mistake of not letting their children participate in extracurricular activities.
"Having met many people from top law firms and large companies, I can confidently state that employers today look for how much experience you have gained from life as a whole; from books as well as extracurricular activities," said Sakib.
Furthermore, certain skills are required to secure a decent job in any field and these cannot be acquired through reading books.
Focusing on the role that extracurricular activities can enable someone to develop these skills. Sakib stated that "People management, for example, is one of the key skills required for success. You cannot acquire it unless you meet new people. Extracurricular activities can be a great way to meet people from all walks of life."
"I currently lead a Norwegian start-up named Equally Check in the UK as the country manager. Day to day, I have to talk to people, manage the people who work in my team. I need to understand people from various backgrounds and their point of view. This was not something I learned in a classroom, but rather through my extracurricular activities," he said.
Business is something that always fascinated Sakib; despite his friends and family members' opposition, he decided to pursue a career in business after graduating from law school.
"There is a lack of entrepreneurial mindset in Bangladesh. This is why young people doing business are often frowned upon," said Sakib.
"My family wanted me to be both a politician and a lawyer but I always felt like I could add value to the business community because of my understanding of commercial law and business in general. Hence, I shifted to this profession," he added.
In Bangladesh, Sakib spent his free time doing a lot of extracurricular activities. He was a part of debating clubs, would often go out, meet friends, and watch movies. However, in the UK, he spends his time rowing, meeting friends, attending business events, and so on.
Reflecting on what his time in one of the leading universities in the world taught him, he said "of the many lessons learnt, perhaps the most important one for me has been the realisation that I needed to focus equally on mental well-being as well as professional aspirations."
"Being dyslexic, while in Oxford, I was very quickly introduced to the fantastic support systems that are available within both the faculty and in my college (Brasenose college), and I am extremely grateful that help was readily accessible whenever needed," he added.
"It helped me overcome some of the challenges of my neurodiversity and enhanced my self-belief extensively. I have realised first-hand the power of open communication about mental health," he concluded.