I was so privileged to win the 2009 Public Sector award. I found myself feeling a greater sense of responsibility to live up to the award and reassess how I could pay back and support others. In my journey since I have sought to focus on three values – compassion, collaboration and confidence – and that these should inform and shape what I do and how I do it. Compassion means that I seek to understand and connect with people, placing trust at the heart of my relationships. The generosity of kindness flows from this. This essential oil fuels my professional and personal networks. Collaboration follows, what you put in is more than matched by what you get out of the relationships you invest in and those you help. And finally, confidence. The award reinforced this, strengthened my own determination and clarified my own sense of ambition. It inspired me to pursue the jobs I wanted, get them and then make them my own. But in doing so, I realised that others need to believe in themselves too, to find their path, so it gave me the confidence too to share my story and seek to empower others to believe in themselves.
It’s no exaggeration to say that these awards really were the catalyst to my career and how I was able to make a difference. It’s so phenomenally important to recognise the achievements of not just Asian women, but particularly Asian women in the arts, especially when often, culturally, we can be guilty of not giving the arts the recognition or gravitas they deserve. What AWA does for women like myself really does make a monumental difference, I am forever thankful for that.
It was my first big award in the UK, she says. It boosted my confidence and energised me to go forward, both in life and in my chosen subject area. I started as an apprentice in a busy factory, I had no opportunity to go into higher education. I was determined to become a scientist, and so I taught myself. I studied diligently, reading and reading. I went to evening school. I wanted to make something of myself and to do my best.
I was honoured with the award at a formative time in my career and it had an immense impact on how I saw myself
and my potential. But my abiding sense of what I saw at the awards ceremony that year and every year since was that this has been a forum through with Asian women who never saw themselves as exceptional gained a recognition, often for the very first time, that then powered them further ahead.
AWA has given me the platform and confidence to aim high and accept no less than the best from myself. I have made lifelong friends, confidantes and mentors since being shortlisted in 2008. In turn, I have gained the self-belief to mentor and advise the women around me. Sure, I’d still be a lawyer if I hadn’t been part of AWA, but my purpose would have remained undiscovered. AWA lifted my gaze and for that I will be eternally grateful to Pinky and her fantastic vision.