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"I'd have never got my banking job without diversity programs"

"I currently work in sustainable investing, and I'd have never got my job without diversity programs.

I'm from Africa originally. I lived there until I was 7 then my family and I moved to the UK. I've spent most of my time in the north of England going to school there and finishing my degree there. My family still live outside London.  They've both been in hospitality their whole lives, working in boutique hotels.

I'm not from a wealthy background. I went to a state school, which is where I found out about the Sutton Trust. I was always looking for something more, knowing that I didn't quite fit where I was as an immigrant. I was the only black person at my school and the only student to use the Sutton Trust program.

I also attended an American summer school. I was based on the Yale campus but along with my group of around 150 students (there were 3 or 4 of those), we visited all the universities around the area, including Princeton. It made me want to do really well, contextualising my ambitions and what success meant.

As an immigrant, I always wanted to do well. I knew how hard my family worked to get us into the UK and they did so to help my success. I didn't necessarily want to go to an elite school, but I saw it as a pathway to where I wanted to go. I want to own a business. Finance isn't the be all and end all, but it's a step in the right direction.

I discovered finance at university. I hadn't even thought about doing it through the Sutton Trust. I've always been fascinated with why the UK was so much more developed, looking at how differently life turned out for my cousins back home. 

With this in mind I found another diversity organisation. Their focus was on getting girls into investing at an early stage with a particular focus on asset management. That enabled me to get internship in emerging markets. For my current job, I applied through the 10,000 black interns program. 

Without these diversity programs I would never have got a job in finance. I applied to place after place and got rejection after rejection, even though I thought they would want me. There was just no response.

I feel a bit sorry for people who can't access diversity programs and who are struggling to get into banking. The Sutton Trust will help you if you're a white man from an underprivileged background, but it's still not easy.

Click here to create a profile on eFinancialCareers. Make yourself visible to recruiters and find a role at a diverse and inclusive company.

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AUTHORFaith Kamande Insider Comment

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