Suleman Kanji: If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything

At the age of 14, Suleman Kanji left his loved ones behind in Karachi, Pakistan to embark on a new and exciting journey of pursuing higher studies in America. Prospect of getting the chance to study in the USA was exciting yet very frightening for Suleman. Moving to the USA meant leaving his family behind which was extremely hard as a 14 year old. With the support of his uncles and aunts, Suleman settled in America and started his academic journey in Chicago. Coming from Pakistan where English is not the primary language, Suleman quickly realized that there was quite an adjustment he will need to make in order to acclimate himself in this new environment. He learned to be self-sufficient, a self-motivator, Suleman quickly started to adjust.

“Struggle is the meaning of life; defeat and victory is in the hands of God. But struggle itself is man’s duty and should be his joy” Sultan Mohammad Shah, Aga Khan III.

These words by Sultan Mohammad Shah, Aga Khan III were etched in his memories from a very young age. These words motivated him every step of the way, these words pushed him to work harder to achieve his goals.

After completing high school, Suleman decided to attend the University of Illinois in Chicago to attain a Finance degree. He did not have any financial support and worked three jobs to pay for his college tuition. “Working hard at this point in my life, made me value my education” Suleman recollects. He reminiscences going days without sleeping, in order to study for his midterms and finals. He traveled every day for 1.5 hours (going and coming) to attend university. Because of his hard work and dedication, Suleman graduated from University of Illinois with a Bachelors of Science in the top 10% of his class. This was a very proud milestone for him.

Ripe out of college, Suleman started his career search. With no Finance experience, this was quite difficult for him to start his career. He tried several avenues and networked with several individuals to assist in his career development but had no luck. This did not stop him, he worked harder. His persistence to achieve his goals, his perseverance paid off when opportunity came knocking at his door with a Finance position from Northern Trust. Suleman is a firm believer that “God helps those who help themselves.”


While at Northern, Suleman felt he was ready to settle down, he got married and had two beautiful children. While happily married, Suleman still had this burning desire to further his studies. He always wanted to pursue a MBA degree. This was yet another goal of his that he wanted to achieve. Now married with two kids, this goal of his seemed like a distant dream.

Life moved along for Suleman until one fine summer when he decided to go back to Karachi to meet his parents and sibling. He shared his desire to pursue further studies with his family. While his parents were proud of what he had accomplished in his life so far, they encouraged him to keep his dream alive. They motivated him to take the next step.

While on the same trip, Suleman’s daughter, Anaya questioned him, and asked him, “Dad you say that knowledge is power. Why do you not want any more powers? You are supposed to be our superhero?” These questions by his daughter finally gave Suleman that push. More than his own desire, he now wanted to take the next step because of his kids, his family who looked up to him.


Suleman applied to Grad School and was accepted into the MBA program at DePaul University which he later attended. He also was able to switch careers, and now works at Allstate as an Investment Financial Specialist. While working full time and juggling his family life being a husband and father of two, Suleman had to really dig deep within to muster up the energy to complete his MBA. With the constant encouragement and support from his wife and kids, this year, Suleman attained another great milestone achievement. He graduated in the top 10% of his class at DePaul University!

Suleman’s story is proof that age is just a number, if you have the mindset, you can achieve anything.

Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

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