Coming from a disadvantaged background from a different country, I know how difficult it can be to “fit in”. I was born in Guyana and left there when I was seven. I then spent two years in Montserrat but a volcanic eruption meant we had to evacuate to the UK. Montserrat’s only airport at the time had been engulfed by the volcano so we were taken by boat and plane to Britain.
Growing up in the UK was a challenge; the move was unexpected, everything was brand new, and I had an accent to boot! Even before I started working in finance, I knew education was the only way for me to get far. When I entered the industry and started to see roles I never knew existed – and opportunities that might’ve made me do things differently – I felt I needed to do something for others that were in my position growing up. It’s that’s why I decided to become a school governor.
I googled about how to get involved, put my name down and within a few months, I got a notification that there was an available school close to my childhood home. Being a school governor is extremely underrated; I got to ask questions about their balance sheets, their finances and the courses available. I spoke to teachers about how they handle students who are underachieving. We would then have the option to speak with students and sit in a lesson. It was interesting, not only because of how much influence I had in decision-making processes, but the landscape and lack of diversity: I was the only black woman in the room, which was eye-opening.
Two days before I started my career with Legal and General Investment Management (LGIM) as an analyst, we had a fire in our house. All the bedrooms on the first floor got destroyed. Only by chance did I put my new work clothes in a suitcase (my sister and I were sharing a tiny room), which had been protected from the fire. This is a test, I thought to myself, if I can manage to get to work while going through this then I can do anything. It’d been six months into the job when I finally told my team what had happened! It showed me just how much I could cope with. Any time I push things back or I procrastinate, I remind myself of the day my house got burned down two days before the start of a life-changing job! I’ve survived worse – so no excuses.