Born To Lead!
From being a ‘poster boy’ pasting career guidance posters in Bangalore, to becoming the founder and CEO of Cigma India, Ameen-e-Mudassar’s life is a story of grit, courage, determination, perseverance and unconditional service to the community and society!
It was way back in 2001 that a lanky, thin lad in a faded T-shirt walked into the office I worked at, with a bunch of colourful posters on career guidance. I dismissed this youngster as just another student on his summer camp time- pass rounds! A few months later, this young man, Ameen-e-Mudassar, flooded the email inbox with his write ups on ‘what to do after SSLC’.
From being a ‘poster boy’ pasting career guidance posters in Bangalore to becoming the founder and CEO of Cigma India today, Ameen-e-Mudassar’s life is a story of grit, courage, determination, perseverance and unconditional service to the community and society!
Being Grounded and Humble
Breaking the myth that men should not cry, Ameen is filled with tears as he recalls the sacrifices his parents made so that he and his siblings could get a childhood filled with love and peace. His office cabin is packed with knick knacks, certificates, medals, prayer beads, clippings from his first article in Competition Success Review, momentoes, conference souvenirs, greeting cards from students and friends and designer mugs, lending it a warm touch and also reminding visitors that life is all about being grounded and humble!
Ameen was born on December 5, 1981 in Bangalore. His father was a lab assistant in Islamia Institute of Technology and his mother was an Urdu professor. He was the sandwiched sibling, with an older sister and a younger sister. He was never pampered just because he was the only son. The three kids were taught early in life to do a lot of housework, from making their own beds to fetching water from the nearby public tap near their home in Ilyasnagar, to even cooking! It was a virtual hand-to-mouth existence as they depended on their parents’ meagre hard-earned money. Despite this, Ameen went to A V Education School, one of the top popular schools in the city those days. When he was in the 10th standard, he contested for elections for the post of captain of the school. And he won!It was then that he realised that he had the golden streak of leadership qualities in him. He took part in an elocution competition in school in 1996 and delivered a speech of Swami Vivekananda and won the competition. He still remembers the words of a teacher who told him,’ That Trophy is Yours’. Her words triggered so much motivation within him that it helped him fulfil his responsibilities as captain of the school with full zeal. He remembers too that it was hard to pay even the school fees of Rs 150 then, yet he did not allow this to become an obstacle in his path to go ahead being the leader. At the end of his schooling, he was blessed with the ‘Sunnniest Disposition Award’ by the school! Today, his daughter studies in the same school and he thanks Allah for the ability He bestowed on him to pay her five-figure school fees.
Ameen learnt the art of working hard from his parents. In the 10th standard, he scored 81 percent, and this opened doors for a free seat for him at Kumarans Children Home to pursue PUC in science. Here again, he worked hard and with the CET ranking got into PESIT, to do an engineering course in 1999. His parents wanted him to be an engineer. After he joined the course, within six months, it dawned on him that he could never be a good engineer. But he dragged on! In 2000, he got so bugged with engineering studies, that he spontaneously began to do things that gave him inner joy and happiness. He began going to schools and teaching study skills to kids there.
Book Bank Days
One day, in the year 2000, with his friend Iftikhar, just after the Asr prayers, he noticed a poster outside a mosque. It said : “Do not keep books in your house as a decoration. Donate it to those who desire to read”.This inspired Ameen so much that, with four other friends, Iftekhar, Habeebulla Sadath, Shaik Shafiq and Allah Baksh, he took the first steps towards setting up the Muslim Students Book Bank.
Ameen and his friends began their first NGO, Momin Students Welfare Trust on April 7, 2001. Through this NGO, they initiated the Book Bank by lending books to needy students and went about imparting motivational & Study skills programs in schools. This was all done out of pure passion, with no expectation of any penny for the pocket. During his last year of engineering course in 2002, Ameen organized the first “Engineering Students Meet” attended by 400+ students.
In 2003, Ameen completed his engineering course and in 2004, joined a call centre as he needed the money. Working there for seven months, he still had his heart in career guidance and the Book Bank and wanted to reach out to more people and not just his locality. In January 2005,Ameen met Ahmed Hassan who discussed a proposal that together they could start atraining course in Java programing for Engineering and Computer Science graduates. This initiative, later in July 2005 became an IT company – mPower Labs. Ameen stayed as one of the directors of mPower labs till he quit the company in February 2007.
An Office Space
On 3rd April 2007, Ameen set up CIGMA Foundation independently and wrote his first book, “Courses and Careers after 10th Standard” in April 2007, which became very popular. He was highly encouraged by the response to this book and decided to give his lifetime for this cause. He just had Rs 500 with him that time, but he needed an office space and by God’s grace, Mrs Husna Sheriff, President, Bazm e Niswan Charitable Trust, Bangalore, shared his vision and offered a fully furnished office for him on rent. With just one employee, he began work from this space and today, Cigma is buzzing with seven employees and many programmes for students.
Ameen’s hard work paid rich dividends when in 2008, when he was invited by the Ministry of Minority Affairs to be associated with the promotion of the central government educational schemes for minorities. In 2010, Ameen launched the Cigma Education and Career Employment Bulletin. This was a big hit as colourful posters pasted outside mosques and other prominent places in the city drew tremendous response from youth and their parents. The Bearys Group supported him in this venture for one full year by way of sponsorship.
A Game Changer
“I had my initiation into social work through my first NGO, the Momin Students Welfare Trust, so I thought, networking of NGOs in South India would be worthwhile, that’s how the first South India NGOs Conference was held in January 2012, and then onwards till 2018, the NGOs conference saw many marks of professionalism with Social Hero Awards too as part of the conference. I believe in transparency and I think every NGO ought to be transparent about its work,” explains Ameen.
‘In 2017, a path breaking assignment which became a game changer came Ameen’s way, to develop a Leadership Module for the Minorities through five day workshops. “I owe my gratitude to Mr Mohammad Mohsin and Mr Akram Pasha, both IAS officers who reposed their faith in me that I could carry out this task with thorough professionalism and punctuality. I along with my team at CIGMA worked 24 x7 to deliver the workshops and I realised the power of doing work sincerely and the Almighty makes things easy!’ says Ameen with childlike joy.
Recently, in February 2019, CIGMA was the knowledge partner for The Hindu Assistance and Guidance Session with the theme, ‘ Score Even More’ organised by The Hindu in association with Samarth Group of Colleges at Bio Tech Hall of BVB College of Engineering and Technology. Teaching memory techniques to students, Ameen told students, ‘Don’t study for exams, enjoy studying for exams. Engaging students through fun-filled interaction and memory tests, Ameenexplained to them why it was also important for them to spend time with family members and good friends.
Today, at 37, Ameen-e-Mudassar has his day packed with many things to do. From guiding his staff at CIGMA to travelling for motivational talks across Karnataka and elsewhere in India, to students, he has little time left to brood over his border line diabetes or the off-and-on back ache!.
Working out from his office today which reflects a mark of professionalism and discipline, Ameen has set the trend for many youngsters today to use their talent to benefit the community and the society.
‘Just imagine, we had just few days left for Ramadan to get over last year, my friend Tanveer messages me to organise gifts for non-Muslim friends and organisations as part of bringing harmony on the occasion of Eid. In a jiffy, we did all that …. packing sweets with ribbons and what not. I tell everybody that we all have 86,400 seconds in a day and we have to do our best to make best use of the time that Allah has bestowed on us. As I look back over the years, I thank God for the difficulties that came my way as it helped me to realise my potential and work harder. I believe that being humble and not forgetting your roots is the key to success. Your wealth should not make you arrogant, because all wealth is from God and it will come and go. I also endorse the practice of sharing one percent of earnings for community development, that’s apart from the sadaqa and zakat. I have a very long list of friends, well wishers, senior officers and citizens who came into my life to add positivity to my life and made me who I am today, to them all I owe a big thank you and immense gratitude,’ reflects Ameen.
From driving around in a rickety simple scooter with loads of books for the Book Bank as a student, to sharing the platform with a leading media publication like The Hindu, Ameen-e-Mudassar is a living example for the community that no matter what….even if rocks roll down our way and the pocket may not be jingling with money, if we have unflinching faith in God and are humble, we will reach the shores of success despite storms and tides.
(Ameen-e-Mudassar can be reached at CIGMA India, India’s Leading Career Counselling & Memory Training Organization, Ph:-080-41554225, Mobile : 98455 67687. Office Mobile :- 9241 778866 / -8050067687
Email : [email protected]
Website : www.cigma.in)