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.
When they say, ‘everyone is a winner’, became entirely true for me. I was one of the finalist in the Entrepreneur category in 2003. I didn’t have to win to feel empowered. Just being a finalist opened many doors for me and certainly widened my horizons. I was on ‘Woman’s Hour’, I was asked to sit on panels, and mentor other young entrepreneurs.
The Women of the Future Network encompasses so many divergent and vibrant women. Just being in their midst energises one and make one feel that anything is achievable.This is not always about business but also about friendship, comradery and fellowship. It has enriched my life.
I knew that it was special being nominated for and winning the Asian Women of Achievement award for work in the Media. Getting recognition for your work from your peers, from business leaders from the wider business world is not only gratifying but is a huge confidence boost to do even better. I felt honoured but as I learnt the ethos and values of the awards embodied in the founder, Pinky Lilani, I felt an enormous pride that this award should be a celebration not just for me, but also for all Asian women who are achieving great things every day without recognition. I felt a huge responsibility to use this honour to support and mentor women to gain the recognition they deserve and to make a difference in the world.Winning the award was not only a wonderful launchpad for me personally and professionally, but it gave me the confidence and self-belief to do more, not just for myself, but for others and this is what makes these awards so special and unique. Since the award, I have continued to work in television production on successful shows and I have used my business skills on the West of England LEP board, helping to attract £90m of investment to the South West. I have also pursued my love for food by writing a book about spices and health – Spice Yourself Slim – and I founded a charity called ’91 Ways to Build A Global City’ which is breaking down barriers and building greater understanding between Bristol’s 91 language communities. That work in changing people’s lives was recognised by a Woman of the Year award and a nomination for the Inspiration Award for the Guild of Food Writers. I have also been selected to be a face of the Vibrant Economy for Grant Thornton for 2017.I don’t think I would have been able to achieve any of this without the opportunity and confidence the AWA award gave me and I hope I can inspire and empower other women to believe they can achieve their dreams too.
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 was an absolute honour to win the Chairman’s Award at the Asian Women of Achievement Awards in 2015. It came as a complete surprise and I still remember that moment it was announced on the night as if it was yesterday. So, what does it mean? First and foremost , being publically recognised for my work has given me an inner confidence to realise my potential. Such an endorsement has empowered me to continue with my projects linked to health and community service. In a way, winning has been a blessing and opened so many doors and given me endless new opportunities. I have also met so many amazing people in many other fields – it is like I have inherited a new AWA family.