Get to know Asif

It’s midday in London and Asif has just come off a call. In Asif’s job the phone can ring anytime, day or night. And that’s one of the things he loves about his job.

Asif Shah
our Risk & Insurance Manager at DS Smith Group

Tell us about your role

I work with a wide group of people across our organisation to protect and insure risk at our 300+ sites, around 30,000 employees and share price across 34 countries. Not just the risks we’re facing today but ones we may potentially face in the future. Every site is vetted and risk assessed based on its function and location and we have contingency plans for virtually every eventuality across the business.

What kind of risks do you mean?

They vary greatly from global, geopolitical risks such as conflict, to risks on a local, simpler scale – like ensuring our sites are safe for work experience students for example. In total there are 14 elements of our business we insure and safeguard. I have the total amount insured globally right here in front of me – there’s a lot of zeros on the end of it!

Does sustainability play a part of your role?

We assess the risks of internal and external factors on our targets and we help the business make the right decisions to support our Now & Next Sustainability Strategy. Another risk we manage is the reporting of our sustainability progress.

I attend lots of conferences because they look at sustainability through a number of different, expert lenses. They help us identify the risks to our business of the world not meeting agreed climate change targets for example, and how our sites may be exposed to higher risk from increases in hurricanes or flooding and the Paris Agreement.

What do you like most about your job?

I like the fact it’s a group-wide role where I can bring all my previous experience and knowledge from FMCG and innovation too. I like how learnings from outside our industry can be applied internally. I’m gaining so much knowledge all the time!

I also like the uncertainty of never knowing what my next call may be. We have a small group of people from different functions that can come together at very short notice, 24/7, if something major happens that impacts our organisation. So my phone always has to be on which is fine as I don’t do 9-5 very well. I like the challenge, the change and the flexibility.

How do you explain your job to friends and family?

I tell them I make cardboard! This is a problem when my children ask me to bring some cardboard home so they can make something. I have to tell them there’s no access to boxes here at our London Head Office! 

My family is my No 1 priority. The gym, movies, music, hiking and holidays are my passions. Working for an organisation that wants to build a better world is important to me.

Asif's family hiking trip
Asif's family hiking trip

In your opinion, what is DS Smith good at?

We’re a large organisation that’s really good at figuring out solutions to problems. The people in this organisation pull together to make things happen and get things done. Recently we’ve faced crises such as the pandemic, a global paper shortage and the war in Ukraine. We are very good at coming together to find a solution.