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A bigger purpose

Following his double win at the EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards, chief executive of the Hakim Group, Imran Hakim, tells OT  what it takes to be a good business leader

Hakim group

Congratulations on your two EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards – what does it mean to win?

Firstly, I was honoured just to be nominated alongside a formidable community of successful entrepreneurs and leaders of some of the most respected companies in the country. So, to be taking home one award, never mind two, including the overall prize, was a big surprise to say the least.

Now the dust has settled, the overwhelming emotion is that of excitement. It means a lot because, in essence, my colleagues in all of our practices throughout the UK and Ireland are being recognised with this accolade. These awards are testament to the tireless work of our practices and our headquarters team in making the Hakim Group what it is today. The Scale Up award highlights that everyone within the group is working in the same direction, helping us to continue to progress and continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in independent optics.

The awards recognise the positive impact you’ve made on the society and the economy – how has the Hakim Group achieved this over the past year?

Saying this always feels like a bit of a cliché but it still stands as true today as the day we started with the first practice – it is all about our people, it is our people who make things happen. They’ve taken on the culture, mindset and values that we’ve tried to establish and applied it to how they do business.

We have a special bunch of individuals throughout the Hakim Group, resulting in amazing teams and that’s what makes it a truly special place to work. In terms of an impact on society, you only have to look at the feedback our practices receive to see how much difference they’re making to their patients. Our practices are delivering a great service to their local community and people, through their dedication to putting the patients' interests at the heart of everything they do.

Change has to be part of the culture of any independent optometric practice if it wishes to thrive


What makes a good entrepreneur?

I think it goes back to the timeless values of honesty, hard work and ambition. You have to be committed to putting the ‘hard yards’ in, and you must be adaptable to the landscape, to changes in technology, consumer behaviour and the industry.

It’s about being the perpetrators of change, not the victims of it. I’ve always found that you’ve got to be constantly looking to the future whilst using the past as reference; if you remain focused on the past or the present, that’s where you’ll remain. These are not just habits that should be embedded into an entrepreneur’s mindset, it’s something we are trying to instil into every independent practice that joins us in our quest to be the very best we can be. Change has to be part of the culture of any independent optometric practice if it wishes to thrive.

Who inspires you to be a good business leader?

Role models that are close to you from a young age are incredibly important and mine came in the form of my father. His words still ring in my ears, encouraging me to ‘work honest, work hard, be ambitious and don’t be afraid of making mistakes.’ This is the same message that I have continued to shout about within the Hakim Group. The best leaders I have come across have a purpose that is bigger than themselves which creates a much wider impact to the people around you as well as society in general.