When I visited Clare College on 10 February 2014 to give my Alumnus of the Year speech, I was interviewed by one of the students, Miss Mee Young Yoon. That interview was eventually published in the Summer 2014 edition of Clare News in the section on Alumni News.
Article written by Miss Mee Young Yoon (MML, 2012)
Even from a young age, Mohammed Amin has always been a very intellectually curious person: his first ever book borrowed from the public library was on home science experiments, from which his interest in Theoretical Physics later stemmed. However, since Cambridge at that time did not offer a direct undergraduate course in that area, Mohammed Amin applied to and was admitted by Clare College to study Mathematics.
After graduating from Clare, he became a teacher, and during this time, discovered the world of finance. Having read a 900-page book on accountancy in just a week, he decided to sit the A-Level exam as a free standing external candidate without having received any tuition and received a grade B - his only B in A-Levels, all the others having been 'A's. Although doubtful at first as to whether he should make a career change to accountancy, his family encouraged and supported him to pursue the career that he would most enjoy, even if it meant that he would have to depend financially on his parents again during his training. He subsequently trained as a Chartered Accountant and came 5th nationally in the Part 1 examination. During this period, he became specifically interested in tax, since it involved problem solving and helping others to save money - two features that very much appealed to him. Since then, Mohammed has held many positions of responsibility, the most prominent being his role as a senior manager, and then a partner, at PricewaterhouseCoopers. In addition to his commitments to the financial world, he has also been and continues to be very involved in inter-faith cooperation, being one of the founding members of the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester, where he has served as treasurer since its inception, as well as a member of the advisory council of the Three Faiths Forum. His personal website (www.mohammedamin.com) lists many of his other charitable involvements.
However, despite his many achievements, it is clear that what matters the most for Mohammed is the people in his life and the interaction that he has with them. Reflecting upon his experience of the Hajj, Mohammed writes, “Standing [on the plain of Arafat], I realised that beyond good health for myself and my family, what I wanted most was to help others, especially other Muslims, to experience the personal success that God has granted me in my life. That has become my post retirement mission for the rest of my life.” Even his fondest memories of his time at Clare revolve around interaction with other people: playing the Japanese version of chess called 'Go' and engaging in spontaneous intellectual conversations with fellow students whose fields of study were not necessarily linked with the topic of discussion.
Consequently, it is of no surprise that Mohammed's interest in contributing to college life at Clare has continued beyond his time here and his career, and into his retirement. After graduation, he has returned to Cambridge on many occasions, for example spending two weeks in 1976 attending the European Go Congress. He was particularly delighted to be invited to address the Gates Scholars Society in 2009, which took place in the Latimer Room in Old Court. He also attended the inauguration of the Forbes Mellon Library, which was opened by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh. More recently, his contribution enabled the passageway between Ashby Court and Lerner Court (two parts of Memorial Court) to be built. He has been very much impressed by the college's efforts in its Access outreach schemes, and his role as Year Group Representative for 1969 on the Alumni Council further demonstrates his continuing interest in and involvement with Clare College.
It is fitting, then, that his words of advice given to Clare students when he spoke at Half Way Hall in February 2014, revolve more around how to live successfully rather than work successfully: “Life involves choices,” he says. “Every choice you make will close as well as open doors, so make sure that you choose, whether it be decisions about careers or other things, what you're going to enjoy doing. Be true to yourself; say yes and try new things; marry well; take care of yourself. Finally, remember Elizabeth de Burgh, Lady of Clare; there were many other wealthy widows in her day, but she is remembered while the others are forgotten because she endowed her wealth to the founding of the college. We cannot repay our parents and teachers for what they've given us - all we can do is ‘pay it forward’ and work for the benefit of the future generation.” It is exactly this attitude that Clare College seeks when selecting their Alumnus of the Year, and we congratulate Mohammed wholeheartedly on being the recipient of this award for 2014.