Faith Odushola-Boegheim

Air Transport Management, 2013

Faith is an Airline Captain on the Boeing 737 aircraft, which is a 190-seater aeroplane. She was first inspired to become a pilot because of her father, a captain who flew with the national carrier of Nigeria before also flying the Boeing 737. Faith’s earliest memories are filled with thoughts of his travels – the many countries she visited with names she couldn’t pronounce, but would still try to – and cravings to one day see the world for herself. However and at the time, it did not seem like a suitable role for a woman because her father’s colleagues were men and her mother worked from home. That’s until her father began to work with a new pilot, this time a woman. This inspired Faith to attend flying school but when she got there, the chief instructor informed her father that it was advisable she returned home for she was not ready. But Faith’s father continued to believe in her and his support carried her through to graduation, where she passed with flying colours.

Things were different at her first workplace. She says, “I was challenged, I was trained, I was taught not only by my instructors, but on a few occasions by my colleagues. It’s great that I believe in myself now, but those delicate moments that someone was able to believe in me, I grew to be relentless”.

Her confidence grew even more at City, where she was able to forge connections with prominent people from the airline industry. “Interacting and networking with industry people alongside classwork enabled me to not only learn the theory of aviation management but acquire practical experiences from managers in those roles. When I found my coursework challenging, it was quite remarkable the level of support and guidance I received from the late Professor Roger Wootton. I will never forget him” she says.

At City, Faith gained comprehensive knowledge of what happens behind the scenes in the day to day running of an airline. She says, “City opened doors for me to be able to work in a variety of areas within aviation such as safety and quality to maintain high operating standards and risk management and recommendation of corrective actions to help reduce occurrences and incidences”.

Faith feels fulfilled by her profession. “Every day I live my dream” she says, “I was inspired to pursue aviation when I learned of a female pilot and I hope I can inspire others that the sky has no limit”.

Shereen Sally

BA Journalism with Sociology 2008MSc Voluntary Sector Management 2013

Shereen is a finalist of Ms Great Britain 2021 but to her, the competition is more than just a beauty contest. “I want to use the Ms Great Britain platform to raise awareness about charitable causes, different cultures and what it is like to be a British Asian working mother” she says.

Charity has always been important to Shereen. She is one of the founders of The Loss Foundation, a bereavement charity for cancer and now COVID-19, which started in 2010 because her best friend (also a City alumna) lost her father to cancer during their time at City. Shereen is now a Trustee and sits on the Board of Directors.

That drive to make a difference is one that is deeply rooted. As the first member of her family to attend university, Shereen understood early on that she had a lot to prove. When she later found herself often as the only woman – and even more so, as the only person of colour – at the table during her 10+ years career, she knew things had to change.

Luckily, she had her role as Women’s Officer at City’s Students’ Union from 2005-2006 (and again in 2007-2008) to lean back on. This role instilled in her a passion to stand up for women’s rights.

“Sometimes you don’t pick your path, sometimes it picks you” she says and feels her role as Vice President of Education and Welfare for City’s Students’ Union in 2006-2007 opened her eyes to a whole other side of university life. It is this role that led her to her current position as Assistant Registrar Student Experience at TEDI-London, where a big part of her role is supporting students undergoing hardships and/or from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“I have always enjoyed leadership roles where I can make a difference” she says, but adds “it has not always been easy”. This became especially true following the loss of her brother at the young age of 34, which took a toll on her mental health. His loss also reminded her of how precious life is and to make every day count. She has been very busy since from running full marathons to visiting 78 different countries including more recently with her baby daughter. And there is still no stopping her. “I believe as a Ms Great Britain finalist, I can be a role model to other working mothers, to women in general and to young girls” she says, and she has her work cut out for her.

To find out if Shereen wins Ms Great Britain or to keep up with her latest adventures, follow her on Instagram @shereen_sally.

Leigh Andrews

BSc Speech and Language Therapy, 2019

Leigh recognised the importance of communication as a tool for positive change during a period where she worked with people experiencing homelessness. This sparked an interest in her to pursue a career in speech and language therapy. “Believe it or not it was an incident in a homelessness day centre that led to my discovering the BSC SLT course at City” she says “there had been a dispute between two parties and I was called to avert a physical confrontation between the groups. When I went home that night, I reflected on how good communication had led to a positive outcome and I wanted to understand why that was effective”.

After completing her degree, Leigh established Change Communication, an organisation focusing on improving communication in homelessness settings. The knowledge and skills she acquired at City have proved invaluable in her current role. “I am most grateful for the research modules” she says, “they made my brain ache at the time, but they equipped me to be a critical thinker and focus on evidence-based practice”.

The greatest and continuous challenge that Leigh faces is securing funding for Change Communication and it has not been easy especially since homeless people often fall through gaps in the system. But Change Communication continues to make ground and is working with the NHS to better meet the needs of those experiencing homelessness. Its next step is to support a communication first approach to be adopted across the homelessness sector. Leigh says there needs to be “better understanding of communication needs within homelessness and flexible creative NHS SLT services that feel confident in working with people experiencing homelessness. Once we’ve achieved that, we can make ourselves redundant”.

Philippa Seal

Postgraduate Diploma in Law, 2007

Philippa is a barrister specialising in residential landlord and tenant law at 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square. When asked why she chose law as a profession, she says, “I have always enjoyed being able to persuade someone of my point of view”. Life at the Bar is not for everyone but for Philippa, she enjoys the intellectual challenge that comes with such an environment and the varied clients and cases she is able to take on. Housing is a hot topic and has been for a while, but it is about more than inflated rent and mortgage rates, because access to shelter is a basic human right. In her role, Philippa can sometimes be the person standing between a vulnerable person’s right to keeping their home and the threat of homelessness. She has successfully defended tenants by persuading judges arguing that they have been discriminated against on the basis of a disability.

The road to attaining a pupillage is highly competitive, uncertain, and potentially paved with debt. Philippa has not forgotten the many applications, interviews and rejections she faced when trying to enter the profession. In her time, she recalls there were 400 applicants for every 2 places, and the numbers have only got worse. This is why she remains ever grateful for being offered pupillage, and subsequently tenancy at Lamb Chambers.

As someone who has often had the experience of being “the only ethnic minority and woman in the courtroom”, Philippa is passionate about increasing diversity at the Bar. Through her work as Director of the Association of Asian Women Lawyers, she encourages those to consider the profession who might not believe the Bar is for/representative of them.

Now pregnant with her second child, Philippa is reminded of the challenges she faced returning to work after her first maternity leave. “Life at the Bar is not family friendly” she says “the unpredictable hours, travel and urgent work make it difficult to balance the professional with the personal”. But, Philippa still has her eyes set on appearing at Court of Appeal and Supreme Court – all while managing life with her two young ones.