Home Cover Story Interview with Barrister Shehrin Salam Oishee

Interview with Barrister Shehrin Salam Oishee

Barrister Shehrin Salam Oishee is a prominent Bangladeshi entrepreneur and legal professional, known for her energetic initiatives aimed at the betterment of her country.

First Published: July 18, 2021

Barrister Shehrin Salam Oishee
Envoy Group
Oishee Accessories Ltd.

Barrister Shehrin Salam Oishee is a prominent Bangladeshi entrepreneur and legal professional, known for her energetic initiatives aimed at the betterment of her country. As the youngest director of BGMEA and Chairman of Oishee Accessories Ltd, she has played a significant role in the RMG industry. Having completed her LLB from the University of London with outstanding results, she joined the family business, Envoy Group, while pursuing her legal career. With in-depth knowledge in criminal and corporate litigation, she practices as an advocate in the Bangladeshi court system and also serves as a lecturer for LLB students.

Beyond her professional achievements, Ms. Shehrin actively contributes to society as the Legal Advisor of the Physically-challenged Development Foundation (PDF), working for the welfare and upliftment of disabled and underprivileged individuals. With a remarkable educational history and a commitment to both business and social causes, she continues to inspire and make a positive impact in Bangladesh.

The InCAP: It’s not possible to greet you in limited words. You were the youngest Director of BGMEA, a Successful Entrepreneur, a Director of Envoy Group, a Teacher, a Barrister, and a Mother of a cute angel. How do you enjoy your responsibilities?

Barrister Shehrin Salam Oishee: Thank you so much for the wonderful introduction. Not sure if I would accredit myself with so much capabilities in each sphere but I do humbly accept it. First and foremost, I believe the beauty of any woman is in the art of balancing her roles in the furtherance of her goals. I have always been brought up as an independent lady, being taught the value of establishing my own position in the society alongside learning to be the perfect balanced lady (in my eyes) that my mother is. I believe women are simply “Super Women” and we do own the art of creating the perfect balance between all roles we play, starting from being a home maker, a mother, a working woman, etc.

Being everything is a difficult task. I believe multitasking is a myth. At the end we end up being jack of all trades and master of none. Hence I prefer being the best of myself in whatever I do. I was taught to value family and relations before simply donating all my time and energy to work. The reason being, family always comes first. I walk into a house full of love and laughter, my daughter’s warm embrace and I feel most successful then. Work alone cannot define who I am, everything together, however, does. I have had immense support from my family while I was setting up myself in all spheres of my career starting from my legal chamber set up to learning the business and finally dedicating all my time there.

Being a businesswoman is all about carrying the priceless legacy of my father, Abdus Salam Murshedy. It’s a matter of pride for me to be able to work in an empire which my father had well settled for us from before hand. I am forever grateful for that.

On the other hand, being a Barrister and a lecturer, is something that traces back to my educational achievements. This identity, as my parents tell me, is something entirely mine and they are so proud of that. As a matter of fact, hearing them introduce me to others saying “ Meet my daughter Barrister Shehrin Salam, she was the youngest to pass Bar-at-Law in Bangladesh” makes me swell up in pride. So this identity is very special too.

But another special identity had joined my list, that’s being a mother. This new role is just amazing in its own way. I smile and cry with my little girl, I am growing with her everyday, I learn everyday, but the feelings as a mother is simply divine. I don’t know how much I can explain in words, but this is surely a wonderful start for a wholly new journey of my life.

You often talk about the power of negotiation. How do you see yourself as a negotiator? How much impact do you think this power would have on your business and BGMEA?

Negotiation is an art. When you are doing any form of business, you need to excel in negotiation. It gives one the opportunity to explore and seek the best outcome for all possible parties. Talking from an entrepreneur’s perspective, business is greatly dependent on the successful negotiation of the price for orders with the buyers. The very basic negotiation intends to make use of long-term relations and ensure that the bargain is good for all the parties involved. I know my father has mastered it over the years, in trade. I, on the other hand, gained some initial experience from my educational qualifications, while doing my Bar-at-Law course especially. As a barrister, I feel my negotiating power shall be further strengthened based on my extensive practice in both litigation and corporate sectors in the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. BGMEA never had an active lawyer/barrister being a part of its Board. I shall wanna add more to the plate as a Barrister, besides being just an entrepreneur.

You have an exceptional educational peregrination. We love to know the details.

I was just 17 ½ when I enrolled for LLB. For enrolling under the University of London, minimum age requirement is 18 years. I had to literally challenge the board and ensure them that my age shall not be an issue when it comes to the results. Ma shaa Allah, passed with flying colors. In my 2nd year LLB I was attributed with Oxford Merit Award for outstanding results in South East Asia. I finished my LLB when I was 20 years old. I joined City Law School (CLS) in UK right away and had pursued my Bar-at-Law by taking the Call to the Bar from Lincoln’s Inn, in 2012, when I was just 21. I still clearly remember my parents attending my Call, it was just the best day of my life. So much pride and happiness I had witnessed in their eyes.

I came back to Bangladesh right after and pursued both Corporate and Litigation practice in the subsequent years. In the meanwhile, I had completed an LLM from the University of Derby, UK, and a further MSC in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of Dhaka. In the meanwhile, I had completed courses on Arbitration from BIAC, the learning of which I find comes to my rescue most of the time when I am especially dealing with trade disputes.

Ms. Shehrin, what is your biggest challenge regarding your corporate life?

With all great things said, its important not to forget that challenges are just a part of anyone intending to rise high. I surely had more than just 1. First was surely my age. I had started pursuing my profession, be it business or the law, from a very tender age. Besides that, being a woman, I feel I had faced more hindrance than a boy would have, being in my shoes. Our society tends to consider the combination of a young woman determined to work hard and reach her goals, very competitively. I was kind of ready for it really. No complains of course. Where there is rain there is sun too. What matters most is how I can make most of both. I didn’t give up. My family stood strong. I had wonderful colleagues, both in the legal fraternity and in business, and subsequently in BGMEA now, who guides me in the best way possible.

It is seen these days that many young professionals in Bangladesh are perplexed with their career progression. They are hesitant about their choices. What is your advice for them?

This question reminds me of our class teacher asking us on the very first day of school each year, what do you want to be? I remember changing my choices each year. That was one time, but as we grow up, we must surely intend to settle our mind on one choice. The reason I say this is because with too many speculative choices, we cannot really fathom about excelling in one. I believe career counseling especially in the family, is very important. Its not necessary for a Doctor’s child to be a doctor too, unless they totally wish to be one themselves. I wouldn’t want to pressurize my little girl to be a Barrister like me. She can be what she is best at and wants to be. Similarly, families need to be clear in supporting the young ones on their own choices without being judgmental and help guide them to reach their ultimate goals.

There is a gap in the professional-academic linkage in the Bangladeshi educational system. For example, many students are studying business-related subjects, yet the universities barely have any ties to the industry/corporate world. What’s your take on that?

It’s necessary we give ample concentration on this particular area. As much as it’s important for an institution to understand the plausible merit of its students, it’s even more important to help them realize that in the practical world. We need to understand that the product of what we teach our students is what they shall contribute to society. So helping them make the way to a successful professional end is what should be the main intention of all educational institutions. Affiliations with the necessary educational bodies are of utmost importance actually, and only those courses must be concentrated on.

Ms. Shehrin, we are near to end of this glittering discussion. You are an idol to the youth. Many people follow you as an icon of leadership. Please say something to them.

LAUGHING – I actually don’t think I have yet attained that position to be an Idol for anyone, but I humbly accept this as a compliment. Our youth population is the strength of Bangladesh. We see the dream of a prosperous Bangladesh foreseeing the contribution they shall have in the future in all sectors of the country. So its important for them to realize that patience and dedication are the main key to any goals they wish to achieve in the future. They cannot get disheartened and cannot even let go, when they are trying yet not getting the deserved job and or opportunity. We must always believe that the best is yet to come. Everyone has their own share of barriers to cross, we just need to appreciate everyone’s hardship, at all times. Always remember, there is no alternative to hard work and dedication.

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