Young Naushim Ahmed landed his first holiday job as an apprentice at his uncle’s shop Fumiko Windscreen in Raiwaqa while he still was in high school. He immediately became fond of the job and did not think of doing anything else until the day a Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) team came to attend fault at the shop.
Ahmed automatically became intrigued with the work the technicians were doing and his uncle, seeing his teenage nephews interest encouraged him to pursue formal qualification in the field and learn the trade.
Born and raised in Koronivia, Nausori, Ahmed comes from a large family and is the second youngest. He attended Nasinu Muslim Primary School and Nasinu Muslim College till Year 12 (Form Six). His father was a dairy farmer while his mother was a homemaker.
Sadly, Ahmed’s father passed away in 2000 and he stepped up immediately and took over his father’s profession as a dairy farmer.
“When my father passed away, I took over his job. He used to sell milk from the cows we had as well as buy from the farmers in the area and sell it to third parties as middlemen,” he said.
His uncle, Bashir Ahmed, while supportive, was concerned about Ahmed’s future and advised him to take up further education and pursue the field where his interest lied.
“My uncle could see that dairy farming was not for me. He remembered me having an interest in the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration field as I had always been interested in the work of the technician coming to the butcher shop,” he expressed.
Ahmed then enrolled in Stage One Refrigeration and Air Conditioning at the Fiji Institute of Technology (FIT), now Fiji National University’s (FNU) College of Engineering, Science and Technology (CEST). He initially enrolled in three units only and completed it through extension.
After Stage one, he enrolled in Stage Two as a full time student in 2001. The course was structured to have eight weeks of theory work followed by three months practical attachment followed by theory again and then practical.
“I was not able to get a practical attachment after I had completed Stage One, so I continued onto Stage Two. After Stage 2, I was able to secure a six-month attachment with Econ Refrigeration,” said Ahmed.
Following the six months of attachment, he went back to complete Stage Three. This continued until he had finished Stages Four and Five and graduated with a Trade Certificate in Refrigeration and Air – Conditioning in 2005.
“Econ Refrigeration was happy with my work and had allowed me to carry out all my practical attachments with them. They even offered me a full time job as a Junior Tradesman,” Ahmed stated.
Ahmed worked for Econ Refrigeration for a few years on the positions of Junior Tradesman and Senior Tradesman. He then changed companies and joined Mechanical Services as the Senior Tradesman.
Ever the mentor, Ahmed’s Uncle Bashir Ahmed stepped in to guide him again and after two years of working as the Senior Tradesman with Mechanical Services, Ahmed took a bold decision to start his own company.
“It was never my dream to start my own business but my uncle reminded me that I had quite a lot of experience. My uncle suggested I start my own business. Upon his advice, I decided to take this step. It was going to be a difficult journey as I had a family to support and if things did not work out, it would affect everyone,” he recalled.
In January 2011, Ahmed started his own company – Airmate Services. From its humble beginnings, the company currently has four employees.
“I am glad I took this step. The company is successful and all the credit goes to my uncle Bashir Ahmed who has been a guiding light throughout my life after my father passed away,” Ahmed pondered.
Ahmed’s advice to graduates starting out in their career is to work hard and showcase their talents.
“Graduates should work hard and show their employers what they are capable of. This will allow the employees to progress in their careers,” he said.
Ahmed is married with three children.