Aqovia CEO champions the importance of self belief when starting a new business as PM comes in for criticism

Published by Craig Wilmann on July 20th 2020, 2:02pm

As businesses face up to the current economic situation, the CEO of digital solutions experts Aqovia speaks to The Leaders Council about setting up a business in the midst of the 2008 financial crash. Meanwhile, Boris Johnson faces criticism from Commons speaker Lindsay Hoyle.

Leadership in Focus

As someone who started a business in the midst of the 2008 financial crash, Muhammad Malik knows all about adapting to difficult economic circumstances. In words that may provide inspiration to many in 2020, Malik told The Leaders Council of Great Britain and Northern Ireland that it is vitally important to believe in your own abilities, which remain the same even if the wider context becomes more difficult. 

‘You have to be single-minded,’ he said, ‘you have to get your head down and do it.’

Reflecting on his decision to start Aqovia in 2008, Malik said, ‘I thought to myself, this might not be the best of times. But there may never be a best of times.’

Malik argued that the biggest thing likely to hold someone back when they are about to start their own business isn’t the economic situation. Rather, it is doubts about their own ability. He stressed the need to believe in yourself and he made the particularly important point that if, like him, you choose to step down from a leadership position at a large organisation in order to branch out with your own company, it is important to remember that your personal skills were not dependent on your title or position:

‘Your capabilities remain the same. Your capabilities have the same value irrespective of your status. Don’t hold yourself back.’

Since 2008, Aqovia has grown to be a leader in the digital solutions space. They work with organisations from across the UK, Europe and Asia, including the BBC, Vodafone, Interxion and Sky.

For anyone thinking of starting a new business today, Malik and Aqovia are a great example to follow.

Leadership Today

Commons speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has accused the prime minister of sidelining parliament and adopting a presidential approach to government. 

The criticism comes in the wake of No 10’s decision to hold Whitehouse-style daily press briefings.

In a conversation with Matt Chorley on Times Radio, Sir Lindsay said, ‘The government has to respect parliament. Any statement should be made to parliament, not to the press briefings. We don’t have a president, we have a prime minister, and that prime minister is answerable to parliament.’

The Times also reports that the prime minister is being urged by leading scientists ‘not to paint himself into a corner’ over whether he would impose another nationwide lockdown. 

Yesterday, in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, the prime minister compared the possibility of another nationwide lockdown to the possibility of using a nuclear deterrent, i.e. something that he can never completely rule out but something that it incredibly unlikely to happen.

In response, Devi Sridhar, professor of public health at Edinburgh University and Covid-19 advisor to the Scottish government, told The Times:

‘I fear he is painting himself into a corner. Unless the virus is effectively eliminated and strict border checks are in place, there is always the possibility that the virus will increase spreading, especially in the winter months.’

In further bad news for Boris Johnson, today’s Daily Telegraph leads with the news that over 200,000 people may die from the impact of the lockdown measures his government put in place to try and protect the public from Covid-19. 

Away from the prime minister, The Financial Times is reporting that EU leaders are hoping to agree a deal this afternoon on the bloc’s financial response to Covid-19, with talks resuming at 4pm Brussels time. 

Leadership in History

On this day in 1969, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins led the human race to a new frontier, as their lunar module landed on the moon. Armstrong stepped out on to the moon’s surface, uttering ten of the most famous words in human history in the process. Aldrin followed him, while Collins remained in the module.

Eight years previously, the then US president John F Kennedy laid down the challenge for America to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Tragically, he did not live to see the fulfilment of the challenge. But the first lunar landing stands as a testament to what bold leadership and committed teamwork can achieve.


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The Leaders Council of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a network of the most influential figures from across the country. Through detailed case studies, news coverage, podcasts and leadership events, we strive to unearth the authentic voice of British industry. Find out more about our Membership Benefits.


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Authored By

Craig Wilmann
Executive Director
July 20th 2020, 2:02pm

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