My father (May Allah have mercy on him) taught me one simple rule in life, the harder you try the luckier you get!
I was lucky, I had a great start to my career, I rose through the ranks in every company I joined, I was respected, I gave respect and I delivered beyond expectations – looking back it was crazy that in literally every company and I never experienced any form of racism, well not to my face that is.
But then it all changed. After being approached by a head-hunter I soon found myself being interviewed in a hotel reception, a motorway service station and even in restaurant over dinner, all because the company wanted to keep their intent to hire me secret until they had struck a deal.
After three interviews with three members of their board of directors I was unanimously put forward for the position, my salary, company car, benefits, title all agreed but there was one last hurdle, the face to face with the CEO and majority owner of the company.
The company was based miles from my hood, it took over 4 hours to get to their office, all the way there I sang along to my favorite tunes, stopped off for a nice ploughman lunch and arrived 30 minutes early so I could compose myself and, brush my hair (yes I had hair).
As I was ushered into the boardroom, I recall thinking to myself, wow everyone is so friendly and welcoming. Sitting quietly, waiting for the CEO, sipping water and not a flinch of anticipation, not a flutter or nerves, I had this, this was my big break!
In he walked, a tall older man, grey hair, immaculately dressed, he looked every part the man I would one day aspire to be. But in a fraction of a second everything changed, he took one look at me, said “no, no, this is not right” and walked straight out leaving me sitting their bewildered and confused. A few minutes later his secretary walked in and apologized, asked me to leave and told me the agency would be in touch.
No sooner than I got in the car my car phone rang (yeah, we had phones in the car with an awesome antenna on the rear windscreen), it was a somewhat angry head-hunter. I could not understand him at first, he was angry, swearing, rambling on until he took a deep breath and told me that the CEO is a racist pig and did not realise I was not white! He didn’t want to talk to me, and he certainly did not want me on his management team.
The drive back felt like it took several days not a few hours, in fact I do not recall much about the drive, I do however recall sitting at my dining table telling my family that the interview went well but I turned it down making an excuse that the office was too far and I did not think relocating was the right thing to do.
That day did not change my life, nor did it adversely affect me, it did not make m a stronger person nor did it deter nor motivate me, it just disappointed me.
A month later I was promoted at my existing company, and from that day I just kept trying harder and got a little luckier.