What did you do when you left Oxford Brookes?
Whilst reading for my law degree, I had intended to go onto completing an LPC and pursue a legal career, however 2 weeks before I graduated, I phone up my LPC establishment and asked them to hold my place for a year while I pursued by passion within the youth sector, which at that point I had been involved in for 10 years. I never looked back! After I graduated, I went and worked for one of UK’s leading youth organisations, developing new programmes in the sector and after 2 years when my contract came to an end, I invested all my passion and 12 years experience into setting up my own social enterprise. I started with £0, a Hotmail email account and a laptop in a room I was renting- and today InspirEngage holds a portfolio in over a 100 countries, having engaged over 1 million people in 3 years.
How did your course and lecturers inspire you?
Even years on, I look back and really value my degree. Despite not making it my career, there is no question about the fact that it shaped me and I still use what I learned in my work today. Prior to coming to university, I had attended schools with very little ethnic mixes and backgrounds, and university changed all that! I made friends, whom I am still in touch with, from all over the world. Whilst at uni, I decided I wanted to establish a youth engagement structure across Oxfordshire. The University funded this and supported me in my vision over 2 years with involvement from the County and City Councils. The University even put me forward for an award and I was delighted to accept Volunteer of the Year award from the Home Office for my activities linked with Brookes in the community.
What successes have you had?
InspirEngage International has established itself as one of the leading experts in skills development and youth engagement. We deliver interactive skills Bootcamps that support young people to develop their Life Skills in order to become more confident, work-ready and enterprising. We’re currently touring schools, colleges and universities supporting students to achieve their goals. Since leaving University, my real success is having been able to be a part of so many young people’s development- many of whom have gone onto securing successful employment, setting up lucrative businesses or made a difference in their communities. I had the pleasure of working and being trained by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and vice-president Al Gore. In 2010, our work with the Commonwealth Heads of Government even featured on the Queen’s Christmas day speech. I’ve been honoured also to accept several awards, namely, The Woman of the Future Award and Asian Woman of Achievement award amongst others. Last year, I beat 75,000 applicants to become the first ever social entrepreneur on BBC’s ‘The Apprentice’, making it to week 10 out of 12.
How are you working/ partnering with Brookes currently?
Since leaving Brookes, it’s been a pleasure being invited back a couple of times to speak to students and deliver an interactive InspirEngage masterclass - I look forward to developing further relationships.
How do you see the relationship with Brookes developing?
I would be keen to explore a positive partnership between Brookes and InspirEngage- particularly with our Social Enterprise Bootcamps! Programmes that develops students skills in launching a social enterprise which the profits are invested into the community or back into the college! All the while, our interest in a partnership is to increase the chances of the students pursuing successful careers upon leaving Brookes.