Spectra Meets: Amrita Dasgupta

NAME: Amrita Dasgupta

EDUCATION: Masters in Biochemistry at University of Oxford

JOB TITLE: Management Consultant at Deloitte

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Describe yourself in 3 words.

Loyal, Determined, Whimsical

What’s your story?

As a third culture kid, this question is such a relief compared to the generic questions “Where are you from?” followed by “No, where are you really from?”. Born in India and bred in Singapore, I pursued my undergraduate degree at the University of Oxford which culminated in me obtaining a Masters in Biochemistry. I’m currently back home in Singapore where I’m working as a Management Consultant at Deloitte.

What influenced your decision to go into consulting?

Consulting offered me the opportunity to explore a myriad of different fields early in my career and provided invaluable breadth and depth of experiences. It was an especially attractive career choice as I did not want to commit to a particular career trajectory, at this early in my professional career. Due to the wide variety of people and projects, consulting also provides a dynamic work environment, which was essential to me.

What does your job entail on a day to day basis?

The reality of consulting can be a lot more sober than what people expect; making slides, conducting research and making spreadsheet models. However, when you get to see the impact your work has made, it makes the day-to-day work completely worth it.

What do you like most about what you do?

I always feel privileged to work alongside passionate individuals who love what they do as it provides a motivational and educational atmosphere to work in. Also, corporate stationery.  

What was your ever first work experience?

I worked at a zebrafish lab during the summer of 2011. It was supposed to be the requisite internship every high-school student does just before applying for university to demonstrate “passion” in all their essays but, it really kindled my passion for science and made me realise it was what I wanted to do for my undergraduate degree.

What are you passionate about?

I love music, I’ve been playing the piano since I was 5. I have a penchant for close-up magic but I’m really not very good.  

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Considering it’s a Saturday today, probably lazing around at home reading a novel. Hopefully with an MBA certificate (with my name on it!) on the wall or in a drawer somewhere.

What’s your proudest moment?

Probably when I got my acceptance letter from Oxford, it validated all the hard work I had put in throughout high-school. While I realise that looking for validation from outside sources is not the best way to live life, you can’t deny that it really does boost your ego.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

Show up to everything (reasonably) early so you are perceived to be organised because while perception may not be everything, it’s at least 25%.  

What message/tips would you like to give to young women with similar aspirations?

There is literally no substitute for hard work when it comes to achieving your goals.


We first met Amrita through The Class of Spectra Project. She was close to graduating and shared her thoughts about graduation, what it meant for her and what memories she had from her Oxford days. She’s truly an amazing person. If you want to find out more about her career and say hi, please do let us know.

If you want to share your story and feature on Spectra, go here!

 

Spectra Meets: Ricarda Pietschmann

NAME: Ricarda Pietschmann

EDUCATION: Bachelor in Hospitality Management at Les Roches International School of Hotel Management

JOB TITLE: Accor’s School of Excellence Management Training (focus on Rooms Division)

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Describe yourself in 3 words

Friendly, outgoing, motivated.

What’s your story?

I grew up in Stuttgart, Germany where I went to International School. At the age of 14 I felt like I needed to try something new and moved to an all-girls boarding school (Cobham Hall), where I skipped 9th grade and completed my GCSE’s within a year. After this experience, I was longing to go home to Germany and decided to move in with my stepfather in Munich, which is where I completed high school (IB). As my stepfather owns a Bavarian Restaurant he introduced me to the restaurant business which later on motivated me to study Hotel Management. After completing various internships I am now in Amsterdam working as a management trainee and hoping to pursue a career in HR.

What influenced your decision to go into the hospitality industry?

I definitely think my stepfather played a huge part in my decision to work in the hotel industry. He started his career as an apprentice in a Holiday Inn and grew from there. Now he owns his own restaurant. I was astonished by his success and constant hard-work. He inspired me and taught me various aspects of his job. So, I traveled to Switzerland, the place where “the best hoteliers are born”, to look at various schools.

What does your job entail on a day to day basis?

My program starts with a 6-month cross training through departments of my choice. I am currently in the fifth month of the traineeship working in the Finance department. I would say that every day is different, which is what I love about my current position. The company gives me the opportunity to learn about all aspects of the hotel (reception, night audit, housekeeping, guest relations, butler service, reservations, finance, HR).

What do you like the most about what you do?

My favorite part of the job is working with people. Although I always preferred completing individual tasks at university, I really enjoy working with a team and feeling a part of something.

What was your ever first work experience?

My first ever work experience was at the Kempinski Vier Jahreszeiten in Munich, where I worked as a Roomservice attendant. Back then I had no clue about hotels, service or how to handle guest complaints. Although I realized that Food and Beverage is not my passion I learnt a lot and grew professionally as well as personally.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about learning. That is also the main reason why I went for a trainee position rather than a direct entry job. I believe it is important to take the time to learn about various aspects of the industry and try out multiple positions to not only understand all the processes required for a business to be successful, but also figure out what job suits one best.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In 5 years I hope to find myself in a job that I am passionate about and love doing. Of course, I want to be successful and have a management title but more importantly I strive to find a job that I view more like a “hobby” rather than a “necessity”.

What’s your proudest moment?

My proudest moment was being voted president of Eta Sigma Delta (ESD) honor society in Les Roches. I was in charge of the top 20% academic achievers in my batch and had to hold a speech for our ESD ceremony. Speaking in front of a large audience is one of my main fears, so I practice loads, aiming to deliver a speech that would not only make people laugh but “feel” what it is like to be a graduating student at that university. The speech was a great success and looking back I believe it reflects everything I have learnt at university. So it is probably my proudest moment as I did not only achieve the goal of becoming part of the society (I had been working towards this goal from day 1) but also that I was voted president by my classmates and successfully spoke in public.  

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

Before I finished my internship at Mandarin Oriental Corporate Office in London my manager told me “Ricarda, you need to know what you want and learn how to ask for it”. I will never forget those words as they taught me that you need to push and ask for things in life, as they won’t come flying at you! It changed the way I work and see things and caused me to stand up for myself, following and reaching my own objectives rather than some else’s.

What message/tips would you like to give to young women with similar aspirations?

One thing I am still working on is confidence. I believe that it’s an essential characteristic that every woman needs in order to achieve her goals. If you are not confident in what you do, people will try to manipulate you to help them achieve their dream, stopping you from following your own path.


Ricarda is an amazing person and here at Spectra we’re convinced she’ll go far! If you’ve been inspired by her story and want to get in touch with her, please contact us and we’ll make the magic happen.

If you’d like to share your story with Spectra just like Ricarda, go here and we’ll be in touch.

 

Spectra Meets: Anaïs Mutumba

NAME: Anaïs Mutumba

EDUCATION: Pharmaceutical Management at Bradford University and Broadcast Journalism at Brunel University

JOB TITLE: Freelance Broadcast Journalist

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Describe yourself in 3 words.

Determined. Excitable. Organised.

You have so many different jobs! How did you get here? What’s your story?

I wonder that myself sometimes. I’ve had incredible opportunities. Initially, I studied and planned to become a hospital director with my first degree. For 3 years after graduation I tried. Unsuccessfully. My best friend could see how upset I was about not starting my career so she recommended the NCTJ. The National Council for the Training of Journalists who exist to help people from various backgrounds into journalism. All I had was a blog reviewing movies and that apparently was enough and the rest is history. Now I have a day job in IT (which I love) to supplement my own business as a freelance journalist. I also sing professionally because, why not?

What do your different jobs entail on a day to day basis?

By day, I help manage and assist with repairing issues with 6 IT systems for all European cities with a focus on France and the U.K for a global IT company. All other free time is either spent at church (I sometimes sing and help manage a production team as a volunteer) or doing client work. So I either go home straight after work to do what my clients need or sit in a café or my freelance offices in Camden.

What do you like the most about what you do?

The variety. If something is too mundane, I can become bored. This is probably why I have so many things on the go. Being able to use my skills in a few different areas also keeps me sharp.

What do you think is the key skill that has made you successful?

 Tenacity. I’ve had a lot of setbacks amongst my successes and it’s my refusal to give up. I still feel I have a long way to go but at least I’m still going.

What was your ever first job?

Customer Service for a company that assisted elderly people into luxury assisted accommodation.

What are you passionate about?

 Telling the truth.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Working full time as a presenter and writer as an investigative journalist. I would love to use my languages such as for Al Jazeera.

What’s your proudest moment?

I like to celebrate big and small moments so I have plenty. But probably most recently, my opinion piece on the racist attacks in America being published online by The Huffington Post called “Dear White People”.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

Keep moving forward even if you’re crawling.

What message/tips would you like to give to young women with similar aspirations?

Don’t compare your journey to someone else’s. YOU are unique and what you have to offer is important. So keep working at your craft and be flexible to learn from those further along in the journey.


Thank you Anaïs for the wise words!

If you want to share your story and feature on #spectrameets please let us know here!

Spectra Meets: Mary Agbesanwa

NAME: Mary Agbesanwa

EDUCATION: Economics at University of Birmingham

JOB TITLE: Management Consultant

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Describe yourself in 3 words.

Confident, inquisitive and energetic!

What’s your story?

I remember deciding what to study at university was really difficult for me but I eventually chose to study Economics. I was always good and had an interest in maths but not enough to study just maths. At the same time, I loved writing and reading. Economics is a great mix as it’s both quantitative and qualitative and of course, it is a well-respected and employable degree. I spent 3 years studying Economics at the University of Birmingham after receiving an unconditional offer! I really enjoyed Birmingham – it is a really youthful and exciting city to study in. It is also a great size (you can walk almost everywhere) and it’s cheaper than London which is great.

During my time at uni I really tried to challenge myself to find new hobbies and meet new people as often as possible. I was the news reporter on my University’s radio station and also got into running. Most notably, I founded the Women in Finance Society at the University after noticing that many young women on my course didn’t feel confident enough about pursuing careers in male-dominated fields such as banking and accounting. In the two years I led the society, we grew to have more than 120 members, hold more than a dozen events a year including a Conference sponsored by the likes of Deutsche Bank and Ernst & Young and with Bianca Miller from The Apprentice as the Keynote speaker. I really loved leading this society and I won some cool awards doing so too. It was great to hear back from young women who had got internships and jobs for the events my team and I put on. I guess this was where I found my passion for helping others and bridging information gaps! I graduated from university last July (2016), after which I spent some time relaxing and working in Tanzania for 3 months! I then started a career in Management Consulting in the autumn.

What influenced your decision to go into consulting?

My approach to finding my dream career was similar to deciding what I wanted to study at university. I wanted to try as many options as possible from a narrowed down set of industries. Studying Economics I grew to have a natural interest in companies and how they work. I did some work experience in Investment Banking but realised it wasn’t for me. I then decided to try Management Consulting and secured an internship with PwC in London. I really really enjoyed the experience. Consulting is all about people and solving business problems so a pretty perfect match for me as someone who likes teamwork, talking and analysing an issue.

One of my favourite things about Consulting is that it is dynamic, the work/client always changes and you get to work on a variety of projects. You also get to travel if you are interested in doing so! Additionally, I like that Consulting as a profession requires you to have both technical and soft skills, with probably more emphasis on the latter.

What are you passionate about? Where do you see yourself in the future?

I am passionate about a few things. But I think the common thread with all my passions is that they are about helping others and bridging gaps of information. I am particularly passionate about working with young people, education and financial literacy. In the future, I want to start my own company involving one of my passions but for now I blog here about my life as a young professional in London! I also run a Whatsapp group called Now You’re Talking for young women in London interested in entrepreneurship, technology and finance – if you are interested in joining, send me an email here: mary_agbesanwa@hotmail.co.uk.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

This is a tough question, but the best advice I have heard recently is that ‘complaining is ingratitude’. Earlier this year I caught myself complaining a lot and to be honest I think it’s really acceptable in British culture to complain. Complain about transport prices, complain about your job, the weather etc. Anything or anyone. This quote reminds me to appreciate what I have. I remember travelling and meeting young people who were worried about where their next meal would come from. I really believe it is important for us to have gratitude and stay humble. Remember how far you have come and take moments to congratulate yourself and others.

What message/tips would you like to give to young women with similar aspirations?

The main message I would tell other young women is to have confidence in yourself! Believe you can and you will! But also be prepared for success because it will never just be handed to you. Work hard and remember that success is where opportunity meets preparation.


If you want to share your story and feature as part of the #spectrameets, please go here!

Spectra Meets: Suet Lee

NAME: Suet Lee

EDUCATION: Imperial College London

JOB TITLE: Software Developer at Expedian


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Describe yourself in 3 words.

Creative, optimistic, problem-solver.

What’s your story?

I studied mathematics at Imperial College London with a year abroad in France. I’m now a software developer working on a social media advertising tool. Previously I worked at a small web development company and it was there that I really got started in the world of tech.

My dad is also a developer so I grew up with a lot of programming books in the house, not to say that I actually read any but it did mean that the tech world wasn’t so alien to me. When it came to choosing a degree, I was stubborn though and wanted to do something that wasn’t expected of me. So I never considered a degree in computer science, and at the time I was actually torn between art and science. In the end, I decided on mathematics because I loved the logic, and I was good at it!.

At university, I did some computing modules which gave me coding experience and in my final year, I took a course in C. However, I still didn’t really understand how to build something that could actually be used in the real world. I had only written programs to solve mathematical problems up to this point.

When I started working in web development, I discovered the creative side of building something for people to use. Moving forwards, I’m keen to continue developing my skills. I think tech is such an exciting sector to be working in. There are so many possibilities – you could be making an app with a positive social impact for instance. And the web is a massive platform for information and data, it’s really up to you to be creative and produce something tangible and meaningful from it 🙂

We live in a world where there are not enough women in tech. What got you into Software Development?

I grew up with traditional Chinese parents who made sure that I studied hard and got good grades. For them, and therefore for me, it was only natural that science and technology were part of my studies. These were not subjects only for boys. Looking back, I’m appreciative that I was never made to feel that science and technology were beyond my reach as a young girl unsure of what she wanted to pursue. In secondary school, I had teachers who were strong role models, who encouraged us as students to learn without limits.

Now I can’t say that software development has been my lifelong dream since childhood. I did choose to study mathematics, not computer science, at university. But I think there is a massive overlap in the two fields. It was during my degree that I learned to code – first with maths based tools like Maple and Matlab, and later C.

I found that the world of tech had much of what I was looking for in a career – problem solving, challenging projects and continuous learning. It was then, towards the end of my degree, that I decided to pursue software development as a career.

What does your job entail on a day to day basis?

I am a full-stack developer which means that I deal with the backend infrastructure of the code as well as the front-end user interface and visual elements. We use a ticketing system in our team to flag bugs and spec new features. As a new member of the team, I am learning the system through working on the tickets assigned to me and that ranges from fixing bugs to building new features for the product – it’s the best way to learn!

What do you like the most about what you do? 

I like being able to solve problems and think logically. But I also like how I can create a product for people to use – you get instant feedback from the users which you then use to improve the product further. I also feel there’s a creative element to coding because there are so many ways of doing the same thing, sometimes you have to think creatively to find the most efficient or elegant solution to the problem.

What are you passionate about?

I’m interested in how tech can build social platforms to support communities and solve problems. We are now more connected than ever before through social media and apps, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. On the one hand, social media is being blamed for creating echo chambers and the rise of fake news. But I also think tech is just a tool and it’s how people use it that matters. Maybe we need a different kind of social media, one that isn’t focused on the individual but is based around communities. I watched a great TED talk recently about an app that encourages people to pick up litter (https://www.ted.com/talks/jeff_kirschner_this_app_makes_it_fun_to_pick_up_litter). That’s the kind of project that I’d like to work on.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I’ll have some solid experience in software development by then (hopefully) and I’d like to be working on inspiring projects. Maybe I’ll be CTO of a startup, who knows. I feel like there’s a bit of a startup bubble. As long as I have a good team working on something that matters I’ll be happy.

What’s your proudest moment?

At the first hackathon I went to, my team won. It was a little unexpected because there were some really good ideas from the other teams but also very satisfying because we had worked so hard – some of us (myself included) stayed over two nights running!

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

There’s a filmmaking group called Wong Fu Productions that I discovered through youtube. The members are Asian American and many of their videos are made from this perspective so I can relate well. One of the members gave a commencement speech where he said “ I didn’t chase my passion, but I became passionate about what I chased”. I think there is a lot of truth in this, it resonates with me because sometimes I don’t know what to pursue out of the many things I love. But I think it’s true that as long as you work hard at the task in hand and you are moving towards a goal then you will do well. (The whole speech is really great actually, both funny and inspiring https://wongfuphil.wordpress.com/tag/commencement-speech/)

What message/tips would you like to give to young women interested in tech?

  • There are a lot of online resources to get you started, even if you have no experience in coding. Codecademy (https://www.codecademy.com/) is free and has tutorials for a wide range of languages
  • Attend coding courses in your area. Code First: Girls run free courses around the country
  • Talk to people working in tech and find out about the types of roles in the industry. Meetup groups are a good place to meet tech people! Women Who Code (https://www.womenwhocode.com/) host many talks and events, the community is very supportive and welcoming
  • Look out for work experience/internship opportunities, Work In Startups (http://workinstartups.com/) is a good place to look
  • Go to hackathons: don’t worry about not having experience in coding, tech people are generally a friendly bunch and it’s actually a good way to learn from more experienced developers. Plus, many are free events with food and drink included. You might even win something nice.. ! (https://www.meetup.com/UK-Hackathons-and-Jams/)

Suet is an amazing developer and I am glad to count her among my friends (Asta talking here). If you want to find out more about tech and what being a developer is all about, let us know and we will put you in touch with Suet!

If you want to share your story with Spectra and be featured in #spectrameets, please go here!

Spectra Meets: Jackie Adedeji

NAME: Jackie Adedeji

EDUCATION: BA(Hons) Broadcast Journalism at Nottingham Trent University
JOB TITLE: Reporter

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Describe yourself in 3 words.

  1. Bubbly
  2. Empathetic
  3. Charismatic

What’s your story?

I grew up in North West London, Colindale. The middle child, the entertainer, the naughty one who used to talk lots, but also the child who moved school six times, and was always the new kid. How dare my parents do this to me? Me and Megan had just become best friends!

But who knew becoming the new kid every Sunny September meant I would build the confidence to be the person that I am today? I was constantly having to make new friends, buy new school jumpers and hang around with the kids that picked their noses because nobody hangs out with the new kid.

My confidence grew, when I finally stayed in a school longer than a year and I was able to put myself into the shoes of the new kid that wasn’t me.

‘’Thanks for being so nice to me…’’

I Shrugged

‘’It’s fine I know exactly how it feels’’.

I was always the loud tall one, that nobody really fancied but:

‘You’re really funny though and have nice legs’.

I was always the one that had potential but talked too much and was a dreamer.

I was always the one that never passed Maths GCSE, with a tutor, and had to retake all my exams to make it it university and still retook university exams in the summer.

I was always the one that failed at academics but succeeded in the art of conversation.

I was always the one who knew where I was going and sowed the seed into my future.

What is for you, will go by you, I promise, grab it with both hands, every bad experience is part of your future.

 

You used to work in television. What did that experience teach you?

In telly I learnt a lot about resilience, I learnt about making things happen. In telly people expect you to magic things out of nowhere, and you have no choice but to deliver. It taught me the art of doing. There’s people who watch the magic happen and there’s people who make it happen.

Television is all about creating the unthinkable.  All you’ve got is a budget and a team the rest is down to the work you put in, after all they say you’re only as good as your last job! I remember working really late, coming in on Saturdays to finish jobs off. It is glamorous in the sense there’s great perks but equally the work you put in is important, I met some incredible people, and without them believing in me, I wouldn’t even be close to the person I am today.  Rejection is part of it, you can apply for 20 jobs and be turned down even if you’re over qualified. Competition is scarce.

Build positive relationships, work hard and most importantly  have fun, any opportunity to go to the pub to network, do it! This might be the difference in you being work experience and bagging your first PAID job. Tell your flatmates to record Eastenders, you’re busy!

What influenced your decision to become a reporter/blogger?

I started blogging when I was 18, I remember I was in university and I got sick and tired of everybody telling me ‘’I should be dating people’’. Apparently being single wasn’t in fashion. I was so freaking annoyed and I also was tired of using Google to help me understand life, and certain experiences, so I began to write, and created www.jackiedaydream.wordpress.com and haven’t looked back. I look back at the posts now and laugh, there was a time when getting late  deliveries from ASOS was a first world problem, now it’s bills and travel.

Now I also have a new blog called The Twenty Something Diary Enquiry which is my life documented from now, and I am obsessed with it, is that weird? It’s so therapeutic for me to discuss being a twenty something and making mistakes and looking stupid but also drinking countless glasses of rosé instead of saving for a mortgage? Anyone else..?

I began vlogging last year actually, I worked for a TV production company called Zig Zag, if it wasn’t for them I don’t think I would be where I am now. When I first started that job I was relatively quiet, and fast forward a year later I was best friends with the Postman, had the nickname Jayonce and managed to be appear on a show with Amanda Holden for W TV.

I was bored of telling people I wanted to be on camera, because it’s all good banging on about it, but what was I actually doing about it?  So I used the office camera and  began filming at home, when I was out with friends and at Festivals, and editing the videos after work. They were honestly awful videos, they look like I filmed them in 1992 but because of that, I got my job at Winkball.

What does your job entail on a day to day basis?

Day to day, I wake up and I think first coffee, because coffee is thebomb.com and then I think what can I report, what’s fun, what has a cool and interesting angle? I propose it to the Senior Editorial team and wait for the green light, and them I’m good to go.

At all times I’m searching for events on every social media platform you can think of to cover.  I also do features. ‘’ Get Fit with Jackie’’ is the most popular on the channel, I don’t mind looking silly, so I have a lot of creative control over the content I feature in which is so much fun! I am paid to be me, I don’t think it gets much better than that. I was always told off in class for ‘talking too much’ and being so nosey.  Now I can do that to my heart’s content, If i can provide a platform for people’s voices to be heard then a job well done I say!

You’re also a peer mentor! What do you like most about it?

Peer mentoring is incredible. I am so passionate and positive about influential leadership: we all have the power to influence and it is an amazing skill to be able to enrich the lives of others. I enjoy it so much. I have been peer mentored since I was 16 and I was chosen  as one of 10 out of 50 students to be a listener and a professional friend. I know exactly what it feels like to lack guidance, and feel lost.  I think we all do, and the truth is your parents can’t fix you, you need an objective opinion on your life to help you grow. Sometimes you don’t need advice, you just want someone to say ‘’I’m all ears tell me everything, let’s  grab a coffee, play some Drake and let it all out..’’ In University, I did peer mentoring and at times my heart sunk when you meet students in college with potential, like Richard Branson potential but they can’t even dream of success because they’ve never witnessed success, they’ve never been exposed to a brighter future. To be able to sit with somebody and help them recognize the gift they have, and turn that talent into skill, wow it is honestly… words can’t describe, unlocking somebody’s potential is the most beautiful rewarding thing.

What was your ever first work experience?

I worked in a hair salon when I was sixteen, and OH MY GOSH. I got fired!  Can you even get fired from work experience.. Is that even a thing? Actually no, yes it is a thing, I was told not to come back. My job was solely, sweeping hair on the floor and replenishing stock, I was awful at that and I was told I was too unprofessional because all I did was talk to customers and do zero work.. See the theme here? Me.. chatting? I cried and I cried, I felt useless.  I was the only one in my year to not complete work experience, so I ended up coming back to school and feeling a bit crap, as everyone enjoyed theirs.  Mine wasn’t as glamorous as I thought it would be. We all think when you do work experience it’s like The Devil Wears Prada and you’re running around flying to another  country to collect Gucci loafers for your boss and then come back with a Blackberry in your left hand and a Caramel machiatto in the other. Unfortunately it isn’t like that, sometimes you really can get sacked for being terrible at sweeping hair.

What are you passionate about?

PEOPLE. People make the world go round. Bringing out the best in people, making people feel amazing –  that’s what drives me, that’s what helps me get out of bed, my passion is bigger than myself. I love building confidence, we live in a world that tells us to copy everyone else to function. We all have something special in us to bring to the world, I want people to feel proud of being themselves and to be the best version of themselves.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Good question.  But really I would love to be part of a Primetime panel show with women, I love women! Like Loose women but with a pinch of The Real, I love discussing topics and getting other women’s takes on situations, learning from people is how I learn best. What I experience could be totally different from what someone else experienced but we both learn the same message, incredible huh? Just to share stories, experiences and laughter, I feel like at that point I’ll feel like “ok mum, I’ve made it”. P.s Covering The Brits would be a dream, I’m welling up a bit now thinking about it, next question..

What’s your proudest achievement?

Working in a prison, totally changed my life. (I really did say that..)

I wasn’t a prison guard or officer but I volunteered twice a week to Help the prisoners who were fathers, write stories for their children, record stories and pick books to send to their children in the post. It’s funny because I remember how much they loved putting heart and glitter on the envelopes and they would look at me like ‘’Don’t judge me..!’’ Hilarious. It was such an incredible experience. I won’t lie and say I wasn’t scared because I was, as soon as the gates would shut and I would walk through the prison corridors, I would physically feel sick and claustrophobic but then when I enter the room with the prisoners it’s a totally different ball game. These men were so vulnerable and so lost, they wanted certainty and security and wanted to feel loved, they didn’t know what it felt like to be content. Life on the inside was safer than on the outside, the only thing keeping them from suicide was their children. This is why I stand by my point that your parents shape your entire world. Not everybody is blessed with healthy and loving parents.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

‘’Time flies but the good news is that you’re the pilot’’ where your time is going is where your life is going.

P.S – Dale Carnegie: ‘’How to win friends and influence people”. Read it now, I promise you’ll love me forever.

What tips would you like to give to young women with similar aspirations?

  1. Perseverance, determination and Grit is what you will need to succeed at anything in life. You won’t make it without them.
  2. Find a mentor, if you can’t find one, find an influential celebrity learn from their mistakes, their failures, keep reading, my dad always says: ‘’Future leaders are Readers’’.
  3. Failure is going to happen, people will reject you and your ideas,  not everybody will like you or get you. It’s ok, because you are you.
  4. Take criticism on board, be ok with facing your flaws, because every time you do, guess what? You’re growing.
  5. Read the room, pick up signals, figure out what makes people tick and be genuinely interested in people, make people feel important when you meet them, they will never forget you.

Jackie is a whirlwind of positivity and we hope that her story and her joie de vivre has rubbed off you as well! If you want to find out more about Jackie, ask her more questions about her career, we will put you in touch! Let us know and we will work the magic.

If you are a woman in the early stages of her career and you’d like to feature please fill in our form https://spectrawomen.typeform.com/to/RS7v83 and we will reach out.

(Photo courtesy of Jackie Adedeji)

 

 

Spectra Meets: Jessica Joslin

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I first met Jessica when we were both five, just having started primary school. From then until high school we were inseparable. Sharing such a friendship is a privilege, and even as we have grown up and followed different paths in life I will always remember the first time I saw her star on stage.

I had seen her before in some minor roles, but when she took to the stage starring in the local theatre’s ‘Oklahoma!’ it was as if she was transformed. Her energy, her personality – which I had previously only known in the confines of our tight, and at times, claustrophobic, friendship – suddenly expanded to fill the whole theatre. She was captivating, her every movement inviting you to follow her with your eyes whenever she was on stage. She climbed upon a piano that was wheeled from curtain to curtain as she sang the story of the young girl with big dreams from Oklahoma – I know Jessica has never stopped chasing her own dreams of an acting career on the West End since.

I caught up with her to find out what it’s like to be an aspiring actor in London today.

Eleanor: Where does your love of acting come from and when did you decide to pursue it as a career? 

It’s something I fell in love with from a young age. My mum enrolled me for drama classes at the Helen O’Grady Drama Academy as I was shy as a child and it grew from there. I was in the Children’s Ensemble for the New Vic Theatre’s Christmas production of ‘Oliver!’ in 2006/07. It was my first professional production and the first stepping stone that confirmed by desire to be an actress.

Eleanor: Who or what were / are your idols and inspiration?

I admire so many actors and actresses, and feel constantly inspired by the plethora of work I get to see on stage and screen. But above all, my mum is my idol. I am constantly inspired by her strength and beauty inside and out and she has taught me so much of what I know.

Eleanor: How have you found your experiences in amateur / professional dramatics in terms of representation of people of colour and diversity in general?

Sadly, I was often the only person of colour in the amateur dramatics I took part in. Despite this, I feel this could be related to location as I grew up in a town in the North West of England, and I have met and worked with a much greater diversity of people since moving to London.

Eleanor: Growing up, what impact do you think representation of people of colour (in particular, women of colour) in the dramatic arts has on aspirational young women?

It’s incredibly encouraging to see the development of racial equality, particularly in the entertainment industry. As a young woman of a mixed racial background, it’s a wonderful thing to see women of colour being featured in varied roles on stage and screen. It feels like a special and exciting time to be graduating.

Eleanor: What has been your biggest obstacle? 

Self-doubt. It takes a lot of courage to work for success in this field. I feel blessed to have an incredibly supportive family and group of friends, and wouldn’t have achieved what I have without them behind me.

Eleanor: What has been your proudest moment so far? 

Most recently, one of my proudest moments was performing in my drama school showcase. I was very proud of myself – and my classmates – to have stood and performed on a West End stage for a vast number of agents and casting directors. Performing on that stage felt electric. I was so proud of all that I had been through to get to that moment and it felt like an incredible conclusion to so much hard work.

Eleanor: How, if at all, do you think being a woman of colour has affected your ability to attain your current level of achievement?

I feel lucky to have never felt subject to discrimination because of my racial background. I’ve always felt encouraged that I have the same opportunities as anyone else.

Eleanor: How will this change, if at all, as you begin your professional career?

As I’ve said before, it feels like an exciting time for me to graduate. There is an increased level of racial diversity across the entertainment industry and a greater amount of opportunity for actors of colour. I feel blessed to be a face of diversity in the arts and I am proud to acknowledge this. However, I would want my success to be based on merit and not colour.

Eleanor: How well do you think the dramatic arts as an industry is tackling lack of representation and diversity and casting?

It seems that small steps are being taken that will go a long way. Actors of different race and colour are being cast in leading roles on stage and screen. Furthermore, there continues to be a greater level of diversity within the recognised talent in the entertainment industry’s award ceremonies. I believe that everyone should be given equal opportunity, and I would be saddened to hear that someone’s skin colour could prevent their casting. Theatre often asks us to suspend belief (I recently watched a stunning production of Into The Woods with a heavily pregnant actress playing the Baker’s Wife – it is a crucial plot point that she is not pregnant in the first act!) and I do believe in looking past the colour of someone’s skin. Despite this, I would never want to feel that actors of colour are somewhat exploited to make a statement about racial diversity. I also acknowledge that there are limitations on some roles and an actor may be prevented from a casting for various factors such as height, weight, physicality, experience and other elements other than skin colour. This is all part and parcel of being an actor!

Eleanor: What would you like to see change with regards to diversity of race, sex and gender? 

I would like the development of diversity to continue. I would love for more leading roles to be written both for women and actors of colour – and ideally roles that do not stereotype a woman as the obedient housewife, or a woman of colour with a predictable ethnic accent. Films such as Gone Girl and Star Wars: The Force Awakens challenge the role of women – though I was saddened to see a slight case of sexism by not including Rey as a figurine in the children’s toy Star Wars merchandise…!

Eleanor: What do you foresee to be your biggest challenges in your new professional life?

It’s an incredibly competitive, demanding industry so it’ll be a challenge to establish a successful acting career for myself, and additionally to adapt to the actor’s lifestyle of being in and out of work.

Eleanor: What is your dream achievement?

I would love to play a leading role in a production on the West End.

Eleanor: What message would you like to give to other young girls (particularly of colour) with similar aspirations to your younger self? 

Take courage, hold your loved ones close, believe in your ability and have the confidence to make your dream a reality.

Spectra Meets: Fraz Azizi

FRAZ AZIZI

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I met Fraz at an insight event for women at a consulting firm. When the event had concluded, keen to mingle, a group of us decided to congregate at a café nearby, to reflect on the event and learn about our respective journeys. Fraz was among them.

Fraz stood out and had a brilliantly warm smile. At the time she was a finalist studying Natural Sciences at UCL. She told us that she was more interested in banking than consulting and that she had several interviews with investment banks for graduate roles in Sales & Trading. She went on to secure a role at Lloyd’s Bank.

Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Fraz better, but curious to discover more about her story I asked her whether she’d be interested in being interviewed about her future life in the City: her new beginning.

Asta: How would you describe yourself?

I like to think of myself as unique; as a half Thai/Arab, 5ft 11in (181cm) female, who studied Natural Sciences at UCL, about to head into a career in Banking. I would also say I’m curious, a little eccentric as well as a confident, driven risk-taker who enjoys pushing boundaries and connecting people both to myself, and to each other. I seek out those I can learn from, with a special respect for my elders (probably a Thai influence).

I tend to live life at the extremes/ one end of the spectrum or the other – as in I’m either frantically juggling multiple tasks, having probably taken on too many, or I’ve stopped dead in my tracks, shutting myself off from the world in order to recharge.

Asta: What is your story?

A huge part of who I am comes from my mother’s Thai side. My large family grew up poor, as rice farmers in “outback” Thailand. Though hard-workers, my grandparents’ generation struggled to provide necessities such as school lunches and shoes for my mum and her siblings. I have a deep respect for the conversations I am able to have with my mum as she reminisces about her own journey and struggles. This plays a huge part in my own drive and motivation. We laugh about how, if it were not for my mother’s courage in bringing me to the UK (alone!), I could well still be playing with chickens in outback Thailand – but it’s true!

The other important part, where I have found resilience, is through my own struggles here in the UK.

Due to disputes with my stepfather in year 9, my mother and I were forced to live in a homeless facility, for over three months, by the social services. Not only was our primary source of income no longer available, a strict curfew was set by the facility.

As a result, my academia and extracurricular activities suffered. During this time I was starting my GCSEs, whilst being amongst people who questioned my ability to become successful. Finding motivation was difficult. Fortunately, we found a new home. During the discouragement and hardship, I fought hard to find motivation; taking my frustration and negative energy and turning them into my work. This is a work ethic I’ve kept with me all my life.

I joined the Student Council, excelled through my GCSEs to A-Level whilst working in a retail store for two years, gained a full scholarship to study at UCL and aimed ambitiously for a prosperous career. Though not strictly religious, through struggles I now always think “if God got you through that, what makes you think they can’t get you through this?”

This has given me resilience in academia, independence when it comes to personal relationships and solidified career progression as a goal of mine.

Overall, this has led me to believe you make your own luck. What you put in is what you get out. I have had countless rejections so far, but that is because if an opportunity presents itself, I can’t help but try.

Asta: How do you feel about the end of uni and the beginning of your work life?

Excitement, but a little apprehensive.

Apprehensive due to the economic climate. Having lived through a recession and with Brexit looming.. I feel “generation rent” have had to fight a little harder.

Excitement as, finally, I can give back to my mum. The thing that drives me to work so hard, I can finally do. I’ll finally gain independence and proven those who doubted me, wrong.
With responsibility, comes opportunity.

Asta: Why did you choose Banking as your career choice?

I chose Banking as a career choice through discovering my strengths and weaknesses, thinking about my aspirations and therefore which skillset(s) I needed to develop, as well as the people I needed around me, in order to achieve them.

With an inquisitive mind, I’m constantly asking “how” and “why”, which laid a foundation for my interest in Science. Once we know the ‘cogs’ that make up a system, we can then apply our knowledge and understanding to find innovative approaches so we can live in a better tomorrow. This is something I have a passion for: leading and empowering a team so a difference can be made. I see this as the key to finding cutting-edge answers to complications. Though we must first know which questions to ask.

Hoping to one day run my own business, I have found a mix of a demanding environment, coupled with technical knowledge and my relationship-building skills makes powerful use of my intellectual ability, of which I believe my chosen career will provide, complimenting my scientific knowledge.

Asta: What comes to mind when you think about “beginnings”?

A clean palette. I see it as the glass being filled once again, just as the sun rises once again every day. As another change to get things right, to learn from your mistakes, get back up again and slay another day.