For most of his career Tarig El-Sheikh was renown for his shrewd investment banking skills, always exceling in his roles in the financial world. Little do many know that the skilled banker started his early career and education as a Molecular Biochemist. He worked in large multinational investment houses including the infamous Lehman Brothers until its demise in 2008. Now a successful yet humble entrepreneur, Tarig symbolizes the epitome of an entrepreneur with an honest journey to achievement.
When asked how he went from being a successful banker to an entrepreneur Tarig refers to how he moved from Molecular Biochemistry to banking and then entrepreneurship. He highlighted how his time at Lehman was a true foundation for many transferable skill sets and discipline required for executing any plan, but remaining flexible with ones approach to meet market dynamics and fluctuations while attending to customer needs. “I absolutely loved my time there as the bank was a “small bond house” when I joined. Everyone pitched in and acted as business owners whilst we tried to solve complex issues for our clients in often-uncharted territories. The experience was a rare opportunity and, I feel, left me well-equipped…” said Tarig during his interview with Rowad. For many a fruitful and successful career would be satisfactory to remain within an industry until retirement, but with Tarig his success in banking were not enough and he was looking to make a mark elsewhere. “It was the collapse of the fourth largest US Investment Bank with its 25,000 employees and $640 billion in assets that made me come to terms to the fact that the world is not always back and white but more shades of grey. After so many years of working so hard, it was an opportunity to take a step back and reassess the current state of the world and ask myself the question; “what dent do I want to make in the Universe?” “ Tarig explains as his trigger to move into the world of entrepreneurship and he has not looked back since!
Believe it or not, the inspirational Tarig showed signs of an entrepreneurial mind from the early nineties! “The earliest enterprise I can remember was a really cool and novel concept of “VHS video lending club” (VHS cassettes! Remember those!). I started the business with a good friend in the early 90s at school when we were only 10 years old. If this was technology enabled it would have been the beginnings of a “Netflix”! We were making really got “pocket money” until we got shut down by our school and told off by our parents! “ Tarig explains.
It is without a doubt that innovation is a key driver to success for an entrepreneur and Tarig has always shown great creativity in everything he does, not limiting himself when faced with challenge which is shown when he established Knot Standard in 2011; an innovative spin to bespoke tailoring. When asked how Knot Standard all began, Tarig fills your mind with beautiful imagery of the story, “Like all good ventures, Knot Standard was born out of a need to solve a problem. The idea crept into my mind while I was living in London. An investment banker at the time, I kept getting complimented on my dapper suits. “3,000 pounds from Saville Row?” I would often get asked; “Nope, an affordable 100 GBP suit from Bur Dubai” would be my response. Men have always wanted to dress well, to wear bespoke men’s suits. But until now, bespoke tailoring was too expensive. In most of the West, in fact, this remains the case. Tailoring has become a dying profession, so consequently the cost of buying a custom suit has become prohibitively expensive only available to the very well off.
Part two is on it’s way, hold on to your seats.