'You can shine again' - Shindani shares secrets of success to inspire others

Shindani Ntumba is just four exams away from being a qualified accountant.

The mother of three resumed studying in her 30s, at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU), even though English is not her first language.

Shindani main

Graduating in Accounting and Finance last summer, she landed her ideal role with the NHS after seeking support from the DMU careers team.

She hopes her story will inspire people from similar backgrounds - mums, mature learners and others who think they can't continue their education.

Shindani said: "You can shine again.

"The secret of my success is about me and others - motivation, self-belief and reaching out to people who can help you. The advice they give at DMU is wonderful.

"I had a stammer as a child, I have three children and I've learnt a new language. My attitude was to look at what I wanted to do."

Shindani hasn't always been so resilient. Growing up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, she had a stammer that affected her confidence.

"I grew up not talking too much because people laughed," she said.

French-speaker Shindani loved the English language but found it difficult to communicate when she moved to the UK in 2007 aged 30. She enrolled on an ESOL course and, after a break while she had her children, continued lessons at her son's school.

Meanwhile, she helped a charity with financial matters - using skills learnt in her role as a manager for mobile phone operator Vodacom in the Congo. This is when she considered university.

Attending a DMU Open Day, Shindani was impressed with the exemptions from professional body exams as well as the placement opportunities.

"I thought that was really good, I could earn money and improve my skills," she said.

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Enrolling in 2014, she found lectures difficult at first, but got into the swing after taking advantage of opportunities to talk to tutors and library support services, such as workshops on essay writing.

Shindani spent her third year on placement at West Leicestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Loughborough, as an accounts assistant.

"A free Excel course at DMU helped me a lot. I also received regular emails from placement staff," she said.

"I didn't just do a job but also had an assignment from DMU. It was really good because the assignment helped you to know the organisation, to know the job and which skills you are using. I had something to reflect on."

Back on campus, Shindani's final year was a challenge from a personal point of view - as her husband returned to DMU for his master's and she had to look after the whole family. But she had hit her stride with studying. "I knew how to organise work and it became easy to me how to learn," she said.

Seeking a graduate post, Shindani approached the #DMUworks employability team, in particular career development manager Ann Baughan, for help with her CV and interviews.

"They showed me how to sell myself," added Shindani, who was thrilled to land a role as an accounts assistant at East Leicestershire and Rutland CCG.

"When I looked at the job description, it was what I liked doing. I was serving the NHS and doing something for the community."

Posted on Friday 3rd May 2019

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