Arif Zaman

Executive Director, CBW

Arif Zaman is Executive Director, Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network (CBW) which was incubated at the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC) in consultation with the Commonwealth Secretariat while he was Advisor, Corporate Governance, South Asia and Women in Business at CBC. Arif represents CBW on the main governance body on gender for the 53 Commonwealth Governments and on the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles Leadership Group. He is also CEO, Riscaire providing training and advisory services on governance and reputational risk in partnership with leading firms in related areas in the UK, Dubai and Pakistan. He is on the visiting faculty at Henley Business School, University of Reading. The author of the bestselling book on Reputational Risk (Financial Times, 2004 and published in Russian, 2008), still the only international researched based publication of book length on reputational risk from a major business publisher, Arif served in 2012-13 on the Drafting Panel for British Standard BS13500 on Delivering Effective Governance and is working with the Panel on the development of an ISO based on BS13500

Arif is on the Advisory Board, Institutional Capacity Building Initiative of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and devised, developed and delivers the programme on risk and governance pro bono for a range of Muslim community organisations in the UK. He is also on the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) Young Leaders Network Taskforce.

Arif was Global Market and Industry Analyst at British Airways (1996-2005) where he won several company awards including for his contribution to BA’s Business Principles and Sustainability Policy and industry awards for his work on logistics, trade and strategy. He previously worked in HSBC’s Corporate Finance division and financial PR for Valin Pollen, a leading consultancy during London’s deregulation of financial markets and privatisations in the late 1980s. Arif was a Visiting Researcher at the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and Associate Fellow at the Royal Institution of International Affairs (Chatham House) during a sabbatical from BA in 2003-04, the first person of Pakistani-origin to hold such a position. In 2011 he received an award from former Malaysian PM Abdullah Badawi for his ‘excellent contribution in the field of public relations serving world communities.’

Ms Freda MiriklisMs Freda Miriklis

Co-Chair: Freda Miriklis, CEO Equity Edge

Freda Miriklis is a proven leader in developing effective business coalitions focused on women’s empowerment. Currently Co-Chair of Commonwealth Business Women (CBW) and this follows three years leading the International Federation of Business and Professional Women (BPW International) as International President, an organisation she has worked with for over 10 years. Prior to this Freda spent 20 years’ in progressively senior investment advisory roles, becoming one of the first female Stock Exchange Automated Trading System (SEATS) Operators. 

A recognised authority on women’s economics empowerment, Freda is an inaugural member of the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) Leadership Group and has been a Member of the international advisory committee since 2010. She is also a member of the judging panel for the WEPs Leadership Awards.

IMG_0489Mayeesha Jamil

Mayeesha has over five years of experience working with non-profit and intergovernmental organisations and four years of experience working on international development in the academic sphere – focusing on gender, inequality and women’s economic empowerment in the global market.

Working with the Climate Finance and Small States section within the Economic Policy Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat, Mayeesha’s work involved research around Small State’s human development trajectory with an emphasis on gender and education. She was also involved in a research digest focusing on youth entrepreneurship and the challenges faced by business-owners in a Small States context.

Mayeesha was previously working within the Enterprise Development Program at the Cherie Blair Foundation and is an active member of the Gender and Development Network, participating in various working groups including the ‘Economic Justice’ and ‘Post-2015’ groups. Her work has spanned across research and communications in international development and she describes herself as an advocate for feminism and gender equality, especially in the economic sphere.

Mayeesha holds a BA (Hons) degree in Economics and Development Studies and an MSc degree in Globalisation and Development from the SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies), University of London.

Profile 02Erum Masood

Erum Masood is Adviser, Media and Asia, Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network. In her career she has been promoting the new media and marketing strategies to support the South Asian Media on an International platform. Making sure her work is getting multicultural working exposure in the United Kingdom. Her understanding on the growth of the South Asian Media Industry has flourished and this has made for the different communities to share their cultural and traditional values on globally.

She was awarded the Madison’s Who’s Who (New York) 2011 – 2012 for her work in media and marketing. From 2006 to 2013 she was Programming Controller, Prime TV where she was instrumental in turning it into one of the largest Asian channels serving the entire South Asian Diaspora across Europe with a reach of more than 50 countries and 100 million viewers.

She has had the honor of interviewing top politicians in the UK, being a renowned representative of the Media Women Publishers Journalists Organization in Pakistan. She has written more than 700 articles. She has also organised a number of charity events and contributing for the BBC Urdu Services London. She was also placed in the ‘Women on Top’ (2001) in the daily Newspaper “The News” on the Women’s International Day. She has attended workshops on reporting and digital media, while her strength lies in public relations, marketing and media planning. Additionally she is a Member of the Commonwealth Journalists Association – UK Chapter.


Farzana - ProfileFarzana Varachia

CEO, Xanopia Women’s Business Group (South Africa), Regional Partner, Africa and Head of Strategic Partnerships & Sponsorship

Ms Varachia’s drive and commitment to achieve success can be attributed to many moments and experiences in her life, from watching her mother’s strength after losing her farther at a young age, to engaging with influential women made Farzana the determined ambitious entrepreneur she is today.

Her experience ranges from Finance (preparing and interpreting financial reports, budgets and financial statements), Human Resources, Marketing, Business Operations and implementation of new companies. Her strategic experience was showcased when she had to implement new companies into current organizations – understanding the dynamics of a new business and assisting them in the integration with the current company proved to be challenging, but successful.

Her current business projects are widely spread across Financial Consulting, Agriculture and SMME Training and Development for women and children, all of which encompasses her passion to empower.

Farzana’s leadership qualities are honesty, forward-looking, competency, inspirational, intergritious and passionate about humanitarian rights.

She was awarded Entrepreneur of the month in October 2013, when she was the owner of two beauty and wellness companies. She also sat on one of the Boards in the Wellness Industry as a Board Treasurer.

Among other notable achievements include a Financial Management Diploma and New Managers Programme (NMP – NQF level 7). Farzana is also planning to purse a MBA qualification.