Ridwan Usman started out wanting to become a medical practitioner. He studied biochemistry but did a 180 to pursue a career in finance. In this debut edition of the “How I transitioned into finance” series, Ridwan, a Senior Investment Analyst at Leonine talks about his career and why he made the switch.
How I transitioned into finance is a monthly series that spotlights the stories of mid to senior-level professionals who switched to finance from totally unrelated first degrees and careers. We hope this series inspires aspiring finance professionals to make the switch.
Let’s dive in!
Name: Ridwan Usman
Current role: Senior Investment Analyst
Current company: Leonine Investment Services Limited
Tell us how you started out in your education and career
During my secondary school days, I was in the science department and the only career aspiration I thought about for myself was being a Medical Doctor. But after school and one failed attempt at Medicine, I settled for studying Biochemistry at Bayero University Kano (BUK). ‘At least, the course was still in the medical field’ I thought to myself.
How then did you meet finance? Or was it finance that met you?
I met finance, actually.
After I concluded my first degree in Biochemistry from BUK, I interned with a firm. There, I met some young guys who were so keen on finance and business. They spoke about different finance and management topics.
It all sounded like music to my ears. I gradually developed a huge interest in finance and management and spoke to my mentor about it. He asked that I research the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) which I did.
I found it interesting, and I decided to give it a go and that was how my journey into finance began. The advice from my mentor was critical to this process.
Interesting! What is your current role, your typical job functions, and how has been your experience?
I am a senior Investment Analyst at Leonine, one of Africa’s fastest-growing financial advisory and training firms. I play a major role in assisting our clients to maximize value by providing support in corporate finance, building financial models for strategic decision-making purposes, creating business plans for corporates, business intelligence solutions, and so on.
The experience has been mind-blowing for me. I can’t even imagine myself working in another industry other than finance.
What resources and/or help did you get when you were making your decision?
I had plenty of help switching from Biochemistry to Finance. Notably, I got good help from my mentor Mr. Nasir Giwa – He gave me life-changing advice and has supported me through it all. He still does.
Haneef Abbas, Co-founder at Leonine, was also an inspirational figure. He gave me my first actual opportunity to put all that I learned during ICAN classes to practice. I also read a lot of books.
How did your friends, family, and former colleagues react to the news?
E choke them! They never really saw it coming. Even some of my friends from BUK still call me a Biochemical accountant.
What/who keeps you going?
My mum is my ultimate drive and motivation. When I hit roadblocks, she inspires me to keep going. Haneef Abbas also inspires me to no end.
Where do you see yourself in the next 3 years? Still in finance?
Yeah…I still see myself in finance but in a more strategic position where I leverage my accumulated experience and knowledge to help more companies harness the power of finance analytics, data analytics, and business intelligence for business growth.
It Is a popular belief that people in finance are boring, what do you do for fun?
It is not entirely true. I mean the definition of fun is relative…I enjoy finance and will continue to do it. Just like a footballer that plays football and gets paid for enjoying himself.
In my spare time, however, I enjoy cooking, traveling and exploring places, and spending quality time with friends and family.
What are your top 3 book recommendations?
Blue ocean strategy, 4 disciplines of Execution, and Atomic habits
Who would you like to see answer these questions?
Wale Adigun, Investment Banking Analyst at Rand Merchant Bank. He had an engineering background. I’ll love to read his story.
What do you think about this week’s episode? Is there someone you’ll love to see featured? Tell us in the comments. If you’ll love to get featured, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Abdulsamod Balogun leads Communications and Public Relations at Leonine Investment Services Limited. He's excited about new media, technology and public policy. When he's not working, he's catching up on movies and books.