Whether it is being loved by friends and family that matter to you, or you prefer to count your blessings in terms of success in business, Naz Ahamad was a truly blessed man in all aspects of his life, and one who left his mark on many people in many different ways.
Born into a humble Indo-Trinidadian family as the sixth child of nine, Naz obviously inherited his father’s entrepreneurial talents and brought a good deal of academic capability with him, allowing him to become St. Mary’s-educated and to attain a BSc degree in Civil Engineering from Birmingham University. The Ahamad family Company, Southern Sales, initially a motorcar dealership in San Fernando, was soon to thrive under Naz’s Stewardship, offering Japanese, Korean and German car brands and later other diversifications.
Naz Ahamad was an astute businessman, a dynamic leader, and a man of high integrity. In his family business, He worked side by side with all employees, particularly grooming his equally talented three sons as his successors. With Southern Sales as a springboard, other business leaders in Trinidad and Tobago recognized his valuable potential, and Naz was called to serve on many boards of directors, oftentimes in the position of chairman. Guardian Holdings Ltd , Universal Investments Ltd, Caribbean Finance Company Ltd, Neal & Massy Holdings Ltd, and Caribbean Packaging Industries Ltd all enjoyed growth and recognition with Naz Ahamad chairing their boards.
A quiet and unassuming gentleman, Naz never tried to impose his ideas and opinions on anyone, but in the end he always got his way, convincing his colleagues that what he said made good sense. Naz had the Midas touch: almost everything he touched turned to gold. In his role as chairman, he always worked closely with the chief executive officers of the respective companies, giving advice and guidance when required, and supporting them when the situation demanded it. Board meetings under his chairmanship were always enjoyable while being serious, and he invariably sought to inject some humour into the proceedings. Naz Ahamad ensured that proper governance practices were institutionalized in the companies in which he was involved.
Naz never chose to steal the limelight, staying in the background but always there when you needed him. Although Naz was a good mentor and gave his advice freely, he was never too proud to seek advice and guidance before making major decisions; such was the extent of his humility. Naz was not born wealthy, and he often reminded his close friends of his humble origins. He was a fitting example of someone who reached the pinnacle of the corporate world through hard work and dedication, while adhering to the principles of fair play and ethical behaviour.
In 2002, Naz Ahamad was awarded a medal for “Distinguished Service to Trinidad and Tobago” on the 40th anniversary of Trinidad and Tobago’s Independence. In 2003, he was honoured with a Chaconia Medal Gold for Long and Meritorious Service to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in the sphere of business. At its awards function in July, the South Trinidad Chamber of Industry and Commerce announced that, in recognition of his outstanding contribution, the Nazir Ahamad Award for Entrepreneurship would be presented from 2005. Before his passing, he was informed that the University of the West Indies would confer on him the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws.
The prominent, disciplined businessman was a keen horse racer and breeder. He was Chairman of the Betting Levy Board and received a Jetsam Award for his outstanding contribution to racing. His successful local steeds made him often a number one in the “sport of kings”, and he was a regular at Ascot. Naz Ahamad lived and loved life. He remembered his friends’ birthdays and would call them regularly, even from his many trips abroad. A benefactor who contributed to numerous charitable causes without public acclamation or recognition, a family man and a caring friend, Naz Ahamad passed away in 2004 after a two-year battle with cancer. His legacy will be carried on by the many people whose lives he touched.