Members of Bath African Caribbean Society past and present came together on campus last month to explore how alumni and students from Black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds can support and encourage each other academically and professionally.
In 2017, an independent government review penned by former member of University Council, Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith CBE, identified that although one in eight of the UK working age population are from a BME background, only one in 16 top management positions are currently held by an ethnic minority person. The McGregor-Smith review pinpointed a lack of inclusive networks and mentoring opportunities as a barrier to career progression for BME employees, and something that can even prevent minority ethnic graduates from successfully securing employment after graduation.
The African Caribbean Society (ACS) and the Alumni Relations team at Bath want to bring graduates and current students together to address this issue, and develop a career-focused, bespoke mentoring network.
The first collaborative event, ACSELERATE, on Thursday 14 November was an opportunity to capture the views of some of Bath’s BAME students and alumni. David Ijomah (MEng Aerospace Engineering 2020), Chair of Bath ACS, set out his vision for what the network could become, and how this could be a step change in how to approach the topic of BAME attainment in Higher Education.
David was joined by three alumni panellists who have gone on to start successful careers in the finance, technology and engineering industries. The panellists discussed the issue of diversity, both at the University and in the wider professional world, and spoke about some of the different challenges that they have faced so far in their careers.
So what were their top tips?
'Have large ambitions and be relentless in your pursuit of them. It is important that you also chase goals and jobs that excite you. You don’t want to get a job offer that in the end you don’t really want.' - Samuel Akinwumi, MEng Chemical Engineering 2019. Strategic Analytics Consultant, IBM
'It’s okay if things don’t go ‘to plan’. Take every experience as an opportunity to learn something new, whether it’s technical or soft skills, there’s something to be gained from any role you do.' - Maria Ekundayo, BSc Natural Sciences 2017. Senior Consultant, Deloitte
'Excellence is not only about what you do at work, it also involves what you do outside work/university. In most cases, employers don’t only look at how good you are at the university; they also look at what you do outside that as it ascertains the presence of the required soft skills to thrive.' - Joshua Olaleye, MEng Electrical and Electronic Engineering 2018. Graduate Engineer, Western Power Distribution
Following the panel discussion, current ACS members had the chance to level-up their networking skills with fellow guests over drinks and traditional African delicacies.
Find out more
The Alumni Relations team will be continuing to support ACS to develop a BAME network at Bath.
If you’re interested in learning more, or you would like to share your thoughts, please contact Molly Southwood (Deputy Director & Head of Alumni Engagement, Development & Alumni Relations) at firstname.lastname@example.org.