Diversity in Leadership: Succeeding despite adversity

Solicitors Regulation Authority

This blog is part of the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce’s (ABCC) Diversity in Leadership campaign.

The Diversity in Leadership campaign works with some of the regions’ biggest employers in order to boost the numbers of women and those from black and minority ethnic (BAME), lesbian gay bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and disability groups being represented on boards of directors and in leadership roles.

Click here to find out more about the campaign.

Growing up in inner city Birmingham in a working class family to immigrant parents meant that my chances of succeeding were poor.

My way out was through education, learning and challenging myself. The education part was relatively easy because my parents, in particular my mother, emphasised it’s importance from an early age.

She knew it was the only way to better yourself and, more importantly, to allow me to be independent. I was not academically gifted but worked through my O levels and A levels to gain a place at a polytechnic in London to do Business Law.

I knew that I wanted to be a solicitor and went through 100 applications to get a training contract in local government, with Birmingham City Council.

It was an opportunity that presented itself and it brought me back home to Birmingham. That was a great achievement because it was so hard to get a contract, and it still is.

I worked my way through the ranks  and became a Principal Solicitor and Head of Service in the legal department. After a number of years, I decided I wanted to specialise in a different area of law and find a role that provided fresh opportunities and new challenges.  

I successfully applied to be the Council Solicitor for the General Teaching Council for England (GTC).

I was appointed because I had transferable legal skills and also experience of managing legal teams. My move into professional regulation opened up great new opportunities.

After two years I successfully applied to be the Chief Adjudicator for the Solicitors Regulation Authority. It’s a different role because it requires me to apply my technical knowledge and analysis skills to make decisions.

I have always wanted to do better and take on interesting work that I learn from, as well as sharing my experiences and helping others do the same. In order to be successful, you have to know what you are good at and what value you can add to a role or organisation. I have learned, over a long time, where my skills lie.

My experience of professional regulation enabled my appointment to the Architects Registration Board in 2013 and I was elected as Chair in March 2018. I am proud of this achievement because I am one of small number of appointees from a BAME background to chair a public body.

Other appointments include:

Advertising Advisory Committee  - Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice

Readers Panel member of the Independent Press Standards Organisation

Member of the Academy for Healthcare Science Regulation Council

National Anti-Discrimination Panel Chair – Football Association

Vice-chair Mosaic Regional Leadership Group

I wanted to help others to achieve their potential, especially from disadvantaged communities, and became a mentor for Mosaic.

I have taken part in mentoring children and young adults in secondary schools across Birmingham and am proud to have been awarded the West Midlands mentor of the year in 2015.

I have raised funds for Mosaic, organised World of Work visits at the SRA and mentored on the Enterprise challenge as well as encourage colleagues to mentor for Mosaic.  

We all know that supporting diversity in the workplace is the right thing to do because it encourages respect, new ideas, challenge and productivity. Now we just need to do it.