My family and me: Wasim’s story

After his wife’s devastating cancer diagnosis, Wasim’s life was turned upside down, but flexible working ensured he could continue to support his family in the right way

Wasim Benkhadra, Head, External Communications, UAE

Dubai

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.

Wasim and family

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.

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