Wasim Benkhadra, Head, External Communications, UAE
My wife, Hiba, was told she had Hodgkin Lymphoma on Christmas Eve 2017. It was surreal being told news that I knew would change our family for ever. We have three children aged 12, seven and four and straight away I realised that I would have to put my family ahead of everything else.
We’ve had a year of hospital appointments, three biopsies, 12 chemotherapy sessions and more. Without the option of flexible working, I wouldn’t have been able to continue in my role. I got into a routine of working from the hospital on Wednesdays and adjusting my working hours to fit around school pick-ups and appointments. But I think I’ve had the most productive year work-wise as my to-do list required a laser-focused approach. What is it that needs to be said? How does it need to be shared? How can I get the maximum impact? It’s been an eye-opening experience for me.
I joined Standard Chartered in 2013 because I thought it demonstrated international best practice and I resonated with the message Here for good. Once I joined, my manager encouraged me to take ownership and be accountable for my work while still providing a supported environment in which I could learn. I have never been micro-managed – I’m empowered to make my own decisions and because I’m naturally a self-motivated person, that has worked well for me.
The day after the diagnosis, Hiba arranged a family photo. At the time I thought she was crazy – it was the last thing I wanted to do - but now when I look at it I feel it is my most treasured possession. She recently had an operation to remove a tumour on her thyroid, and has been given the all-clear. Every day I look at our family photo and it reminds me to cherish every moment in this life, be thankful, stop taking things for granted, and live each day in the moment.