I joined Enterprise as a Management Trainee in 2007 and I'm now an Area Manager in the second largest area in the country. This is my career story.
As the only female Asian Level 3 Area Manager in the UK, I’m more than happy to tell other women how I got there. I joined Enterprise as a Management Trainee in 2007 at the Keighley office near my home in West Yorkshire. I worked hard and progressed steadily through various branches and more senior roles, until two years ago when I attended a women’s networking event in Slough.
Enterprise is very good at networking events for women. I met General Managers and City Managers there, and realised I really wanted to get promoted. Unfortunately, even though I was recognised as doing well, at the time there wasn’t much movement at the Area Manager level in my region.
I’d already faced challenges on the home front – it was very hard explaining my work to some people in my wider family and I was ridiculed for being in the industry I am in. Perhaps this was because my degree is in criminal justice studies and in the past I used to work closely with women who suffer from domestic violence.
I also found it very hard to establish a work life balance as I have a large family and felt I was not getting enough time at home caring for family members.
But at this networking event I met someone who would become a mentor, General Manager Khaled Shahbo. I give much of the credit for getting to be Area Manager to Khaled. He remembered me from the networking event, and kept in touch with me. Six months later, when a position in Barking came up, he called me up and asked me if I would transfer.
It took significant adjustment for me to make the move to London. My mum was nervous about the situation. I used to care for her after she had a stroke. She relied on me. I was also very attached to my niece. But my family saw the opportunity and that I couldn’t pass it up. I was lucky; other females wouldn’t have the support.
When this opportunity to become Area Manager in the second largest area in the country emerged, I put all my plans on hold to concentrate on it. I built up a portfolio with detailed appendices on what a typical month in my life as Area Manager will look like, as well as a business plan for the area. I got the position, and I’m now responsible for the territory across South East London and Kent.
While Khaled gave me the opportunity, I also had a great role model. Raji Garawal, a risk manager I worked with, has truly inspired me in my career. Seeing a strong, Asian female who has children and still manages to be so successful at Enterprise really filled me with confidence that I could also achieve the same level of success whilst balancing my home life. She truly was an inspiration and we need more women from ethnic backgrounds to distil this myth that Asian women cannot get to the top of their game.
If you want to succeed here but you feel your family may be a challenge, firstly you have to believe in your own abilities and always strive to get as far as you can. It is very difficult for employees whose families aren’t as supportive as they could be, but it is a huge accomplishment once you work your way up despite the adversities that you face. You can truly be an inspiration and role model for many people to come.
Lastly, I would encourage people to reach out to others who can help or have been in similar situations that can show that Enterprise is very accommodating and many employees don’t realise how flexible we are as a company.