Tell us a little bit about your background…
I grew up in Edmonton, North London. I went to a pretty rough state school which didn’t do great results-wise. However, I did well in my GCSEs, which allowed me to move on to a better state school for my A-levels. I’m the first person in my family to have gone to university but my parents were very supportive and encouraging with my education, even though they hadn’t been through it themselves.
What led you to apply for your programme and what was your experience of the programme like?
In Year 10 we had to complete a formal work experience and I had no idea what I wanted to do. My family didn’t have any contacts but they suggested I look into law because I was really good at speaking and could hold an argument (and also hated science and knew I wanted to drop that once I finished GCSEs). I managed to get two weeks’ experience at the Royal Courts of Justice. I found sitting in on cases really cool so began to think about law as a career. That’s when I heard about Pathways to Law.
I did the programme with LSE and had never met so many interesting people my age, all with similar interests and a real desire to work hard. Ultimately, we all just wanted to do better. My highlight was definitely the residential trip at Warwick, after that I was adamant that I would study there, there was no other option.
Another important moment for me was my placement at Freshfields as it sparked my interest in HR. I was excited by the events, the schedule and all the activities that they were organising for us. Although I had no prior exposure to the profession, as soon as I left Freshfields I started to research more about HR and learning about the various responsibilities and duties that it covers. I started to realise that that was what I wanted to do – to be the one helping people in their career.
How has your career developed after the programme? What did you go on to do / where did you go on to study?
I had applied to do Law at Warwick but the night before results came out I realised that wasn’t what I wanted. So, on results day I called and told them I actually want to do something else, and decided on Philosophy with a year abroad, as that is what I enjoyed. When I was in Madrid I started researching internships for when I returned. I got a placement at the Royal Bank of Scotland, now NatWest, doing HR.
That was my first role in HR and I had a great time interning at their headquarters in Edinburgh. I was subsequently offered a grad role but didn’t know how to feel about moving to Scotland. People always say you need a graduate job yet there I was, about to turn one down. Two weeks before I was meant to move, I knew I couldn’t do it and started applying for other jobs.
I started a HR Admin role at a US law firm to get me onto the ladder. A year and a half later, I felt confident enough to use these foundations to actually start my career. In 2019 I started at Blackstone, with a key focus on campus recruitment and the Summer Internship programme. The culture at Blackstone is exactly what I was looking for, it allows for everyone, regardless of their background to have a say, and offers a very entrepreneurial environment. Prior to the pandemic I was able to travel across Europe, such as to Italy, Germany, Barcelona in order to expand our recruitment reach. It feels like I have come full-circle, because during my Freshfields placement I was inspired by those facilitating the placement and helping the students, and now I get to be one of those people.
What are you ambitions for the future?
I’m finally happy and feel like I’m doing what I want to be doing, so for me, it’s mainly just about allowing myself to grow and progress within my role. But I also feel like I’m now in a position to start giving back: to start creating partnerships with social mobility foundations and other organisations that are able to reach a diverse range of students, those that have potential but may not know it, or those that feel they don’t know how to reach their potential. I was once of those students and I would really like to help others excel.
Do you have any advice for future Sutton Trust students?
The first thing would be to make connections, not just with the professionals you meet at firms, but also with fellow students on the programme, because you never know when you could cross paths again. I started university with two other people who were on my programme and it was so nice to have familiar faces on campus.
The second thing is don’t be afraid if the outcome of the programme isn’t what you anticipated. My outcome wasn’t what I thought it would be and that’s okay. Use the programme to find out your strengths and your interests, as well as to figure out what you don’t like (which is just as important!).
Finally, don’t shy away from selling yourself. I used to hate it… but I realised everyone else was doing it so I had to as well!