Career Story – Mehvish Shaffi-Ajibola

I obtained a degree in Law and soon after also qualified to become a mortgage advisor. I sat my New York Bar exams in 2006. During this period I was offered a business development role to work for an Arab bank specializing in Islamic Finance. I worked nationally promoting and educating individuals and financial institutions on the principles of Islamic Finance until I was made redundant in 2010. With the financial markets in disarray, opportunities were limited. I decided to volunteer and trained as a community mediator. I was introduced to the NHS, by a good friend in 2012. My first role within the NHS was a bank Band 4 HR officer. Within a few months I was working as a Band 5 HR Advisor managing complicated cases and attending Employment Tribunals. After 6 months in the NHS, I started to take on HR projects for various organisations; working within university and for private employers and charities. I rejoined the NHS in 2015, and worked in different capacities; HR Manager and HR Business Partner, until I eventually secured my current role in 2019.

Describe any resources, skills, development you undertook?

My qualifications and knowledge of employment law and business development enabled me to translate my skills and experiences in various HR roles. However, it was in 2014, I was advised, if I wanted to continue developing within the HR profession it would be desirable to obtain a CIPD qualification. I undertook a CIPD experience assessment, securing accreditation in 2015.

 How did other people/senior leaders  influence your journey?

I was told in my early career stages by a corporate professional that ‘Creativity is key’. They explained that opportunities can be presented in many different ways and I just had to be open to the prospects. My first HR Manager within the NHS inspired me. I lacked the confidence and ability to recognize my own talent and abilities. He never stopped believing in me. I am fortunate to have met some amazing inspiring people at all levels who have supported my personal and professional development. Currently, I have been encouraged to excel to my full potential; I have had my unique ways of working/thinking acknowledged positively by my senior workforce leadership team and line manager.

Share any overarching observations?

Do not let your past be your biggest obstacle, be optimistic and never underestimate the importance of developing good strong working relationships.

Describe any challenges or barriers you overcame?

It might sound like a cliché, but it is true embrace your unique self. I tried for so long to fit in, I struggled to recognize and identify my natural gifts and approaches. I thought I needed qualifications, be like others or be in a particular role to progress. However, I finally acknowledged that with hard work, determination and self-awareness anything is possible. I made sure I delivered to the best of my abilities and sought opportunities to learn and grow.

I have changed industries, professions and reinvented myself each time. My guiding principle was my thirst to learn. My experiences and positivity enabled me to move forward. I have embraced the ‘good, bad and the ugly’. Listen to your gut, rest if you have to, be kind and compassionate to yourself and others, and never give up.

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