Outstanding British Pakistani of the Month: Hashim Bhatti
CEO of HB Capital

A short bio: Hashim Bhatti is a corporate lawyer by background with a Masters in Economics, Politics, Philosophy and Law. He is the CEO of HB Capital, which operates from the Cheesegrater building in London, investing in the property and tech sector. In May 2015, Hashim was elected as a Conservative Councillor for Clewer North in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, becoming the first British Pakistani in history to be selected by the party in Windsor for the local council elections and is one of the youngest to win. He is also the Chair of the youth wing of the Conservative Muslim Forum, a Huffington Post blogger and a member of the US Embassy’s flagship Future Young Leaders’ Programme. He was recently selected by the OSCE as an expert young leader to help them develop a coalition building manual in Europe. In April this year, he was selected as a UK representative for the Commonwealth Youth Forum held in London. Bhatti recently wrote an article for the Guardian newspaper titled: ‘I am a Tory councillor. Islamophobia in my party goes beyond Boris Johnson’. In 2016, JCI named Hashim as one of the UK’s 10 outstanding young leaders. He was also named as a finalist at the 2017 LGA local government awards as one of the UK’s Young Councillors of the Year.

1) How did you get started in your career?
I took an unusual route. I first got involved in politics at college sitting on various committees. However, I went to university to study Politics with International Relations which was followed by a Masters in Economics, Politics & Philosophy. The funny thing is I knew politics was a long game so I have always kept that in the background. I actually ended up at law school going down the route to become a lawyer. I spent several years working in corporate law specialising in private equity. Around that time, I was also elected locally in Windsor as the first British Pakistani councillor. I think I was selected at 24 years old. I am currently an entrepreneur and most my time is engaged in buying and selling commercial property, investing in tech start-ups and overseeing various portfolios.

2) What is a highlight of your career?
Legally, it would be working on a £800m Microsoft deal which was all over the press but I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone. Politically, I think winning my election in an area which is not particularly diverse was a big achievement. The odds were stacked against me and everyone had written me off.  It’s always great when that happens…

3) How do you unwind?
I like to go to the gym to unwind and to travel around the world to experience new things. I like good food as well.

4) What does an average workday look like to you?
My average day is quite varied. For example, today, I am looking at several tech companies to invest in. I am also carrying out rent reviews on a commercial property where everyone has appointed an arbitrator to contest them. I also need to visit one of the sites to ensure the fire systems are working and then later catch up with a lawyer regarding another commercial acquisition where I am working to re-gear the leases. My day will be finished with a council meeting and a session at the gym if I am lucky.

5) What has been the greatest hurdle for you to overcome in your career?
I think politically it would be convincing my local association to approve me as their candidate after going through several hustings. On the business side, setting up and running your own business is not easy and you are on call 24/7. In the early days, it’s really hard and quite lonely especially when you are use to teams being around you.

6) What is the best thing about your job?
The best thing about being a councilor is the difference you can make to your local community. I can see the changes when I walk outside my house. On the business side, the tech companies that come across my desk can be quite exciting. Sometimes the idea is great but the management isn’t etc. Too many companies are just raising money for the sake of it and burning it all without thinking twice. At the same time, finding a decent commercial property where you can add value is pretty cool.

7) How would you describe the type of work that you do each day? Why is it important?
They call me the all-rounder. I would describe the work I do as rewarding and challenging.

8) What are your plans for the future?
Politically, I have a few plans, but I never disclose my hand. I would like to see more people from our community put their names forward so that we have better representation. I am always here to help anyone who would like some advice. On the business side, I am just looking to grow my business slowly without taking unnecessary risks like overleveraging.
For Pakistan itself, I am currently working on my non-partisan, independent think tank which sends briefings to MP’s alongside my British Pakistan 100 magazine. I am currently looking for some researchers who can work remotely and a magazine editor. If anyone is interested in helping out, please email me on: cllr.bhatti@rbwm.gov.uk