Moazam Ali Shah: A Resilient Leader Reshaping the Landscape of Healthcare Finance
Moazam Ali Shah, CFO, Aspen Medical
In the intricate world of finance, leadership is not merely a roll of the dice, but a mind-bending puzzle that demands the keenest of minds. It calls for a unique blend of astute decision-making, strategic foresight and razor-sharp acumen to confidently navigate through the treacherous tides of the financial domain. Yet, financial leadership goes beyond just crunching numbers and analyzing data. It requires bold strategies that challenge the status quo, an insatiable hunger to explore uncharted territories, and an indomitable spirit to fearlessly embrace the winds of change. Avidly exhibiting these traits, one exemplary leader who stands as a paragon of dedicated leadership in the world of finance is Moazam Shah.
Fascinated by the world of medicine, Shah always thought he’d end up working in the healthcare field, either as a doctor or a surgeon. But he chose to study finance instead. Little did he know that this decision would lead him to be at the helm of Aspen Medical, a renowned global health solutions company based in the heart of Canberra during one of the most challenging periods in recent history—the COVID-19 pandemic. In a time when medical professionals were at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19, he stood strong as a financial leader supporting their endeavors.
Collaborating closely with the Australian Federal Government, Shah and his team at Aspen Medical secured essential personal protective equipment for the national stockpile after landing multiple government contracts designed to help the country combat the health crisis effectively. Although his initial career aspirations took a different turn, Shah found his role in finance to be profoundly fulfilling. As the award-winning CFO of Aspen Medical, Shah’s leadership has been instrumental in navigating complex financial landscapes and ensuring the delivery of vital healthcare solutions worldwide.
Aspen Medical— A Global Provider of Innovative Healthcare Solutions
Founded in Australia in 2003, Aspen Medical operates across diverse sectors, including defence, mining, government, and humanitarian services. The company boasts an extensive portfolio of nearly 18 entities spanning across the Australia, United States, United Kingdom, Middle East, and Asia Pacific and a staggering workforce of more than 2,000. What sets Aspen Medical apart from the rest? It’s their unwavering dedication to delivering tailor-made, adaptable solutions that cater to the unique needs of their esteemed clients. From a single paramedic to a comprehensive solution involving a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals, ambulances, medical facilities, equipment, consumables, pharmacy products, procedures, modular health and surgical solutions, or aero-medical services with its very own aircraft, the company is well equipped to cover it all. Today, it proudly stands tall as the only commercial organization in the world to be certified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an Emergency Medical Team for infectious disease outbreaks and trauma surgical operations.
A Turbulent Journey of Triumph and Resilience
Born and raised in the city of Lahore, Pakistan, Shah pursued his Chartered Accountant studies with PwC in the bustling commercial hub of Karachi. But his thirst for global experience led him to the United Kingdom, where he finalized his finance qualification before landing a role at PwC’s global headquarters in New York—a three-year tenure that shaped his professional outlook.
In 2008, Shah’s journey took an exciting turn as he moved to Australia, where he eagerly embarked on a new chapter in his career by accepting a position at Deloitte in Western Australia. However, life had a different plan in store. Just as Shah settled into his new role, the world was thrust into the chaos of the Global Financial Crisis, leading to his unfortunate layoff alongside many others. Reflecting on those trying times, Shah shares, “It was overwhelming. I was not expecting to be asked to leave.”
Although this setback put his great Australian dream on hold for a while, Shah’s determination remained unshaken. Seizing an opportunity in Saudi Arabia, he stepped into the role of a financial reporting manager in his first commercial setting. “At the time, the Middle East was largely insulated from the full force of the GFC given the economy was predominantly linked to oil,” Shah recollects. It was during this transformative period that he learned the art of crafting meaningful narratives around financial information, a skill that would prove essential for his future success.
In 2012, Shah stepped into his first CFO role, shouldering the responsibilities of managing a complex SAP implementation, restructuring the finance function, and spearheading a significant M&A deal. Three years later, he accepted a CFO role in a large commercial conglomerate, where he remained until 2019. His exemplary performance coupled with his innovative and forward-thinking strategies, earned him multiple accolades, including the prestigious Revolutionary CFO of the Year award in 2015. Years later, Shah was back on the stage once again, accepting the Best Finance Transformation Award, a testament to his commitment to digital transformation in the field of finance. Having tasted success and accolades in Saudi Arabia, Shah eventually made his way back to the Land Down Under, settling in Canberra with his family and accepting the role of Global Chief Financial Officer at Aspen Medical. Enjoying shorter commutes and cherished family time, Shah continues to contribute to the finance community by sharing his expertise as a speaker at various forums.
At Aspen Medical, Shah led several digital & finance transformation projects. He also serves as the Chair of Finance, Audit & Risk Committee & is a Board member of an international healthcare business within Aspen Medical group.
In 2020, he also earned distinction as the finalist of Australian CFO of the year award.
An Advocate for Knowledge Sharing & Contributing to Communities
Beyond his role as CFO, Shah is driven by a deep commitment to giving back to the finance profession and the student community. With his wealth of experience and expertise, he currently holds the prestigious position of chairing the Corporate Advisory Panel (ACT) at the esteemed Institute of Chartered Accountants of Australia & New Zealand. Furthermore, Shah serves as a Regional Councillor for the Institute, actively shaping the future of the profession. Driven by a strong sense of giving back to the community, Shah also served as the Non-Executive Board member for a not-for-profit organization in Australia that runs therapeutic support services for young people. While his financial prowess is well-known, Shah’s influence extends beyond boardrooms and spreadsheets. Renowned for his gentle demeanor and soft-spoken nature, he is highly regarded as a guest lecturer at renowned institutions such as the Australian National University and the University of Canberra, where he generously imparts his wisdom to aspiring financial professionals.
Shah says “the best thing about working at Aspen Medical is the sense of purpose – getting beyond just making money. It is the core value, which is embedded within the DNA of our business, and is reflected in our endeavors to positively affect the health outcome for some of the most vulnerable communities within Australia and around the world. It is satisfying”.
Today, as the visionary leader looks back on his journey, he finds himself amused by the unexpected turn his life has taken, leading him into the healthcare field amidst a raging pandemic. It’s rather ironic, considering his initial dreams of becoming a doctor. “I chose to become a chartered accountant and work in finance and never thought about coming back to or joining healthcare. And yet here I am. In the right place at the right time,” Shah reflects with a wry smile.
Shah’s story serves as a reminder that sometimes the most meaningful journeys unfold when we least expect them, turning what may seem like detours into extraordinary opportunities for growth and meaningful contribution to the world around us.