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Winners announced at inaugural BAME leadership initiative


A new De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) initiative designed to help Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students develop their management and leadership skills has culminated with an awards celebration at Trinity House Chapel.

Organised for the first time this academic year, BAME Lead and Inspire is a five-week programme of extra-curricular workshops and consulting on different topics with employer partners for students of minority backgrounds studying within the university’s Business and Law (BaL) faculty.

BAME Group shot

This new initiative, backed by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Howes Percival, DMU-Procurement and Reed, looks to close the attainment and progression gap for students from BAME backgrounds by tasking them to work together in groups and consult on a business problem put forward by one of the companies involved in the project.

Each student also has the opportunity to develop their practical business skills, such as pitching and negotiating, through a series of workshops and interactive games organised by the programme.

Following the five sessions, the students presented their pitches, which included research and recommendations to their designated business, to a judging panel including the BaL faculty & employer partners, which decided on the best team pitch.

After careful deliberation by the judges, the team of Ebitimi Imomotebegha, Safiyya Alibhai, Saumya Astavans, Sanaa Khalifa, Simona Bhatia and Siphumelele Sobopha scooped the top prize for their pitch to Enterprise Rent-a-Car.

BAME group winner
Ebitimi Imomotebegha, Safiyya Alibhai, Saumya Astavans, Sanaa Khalifa, Simona Bhatia and Siphumelele Sobopha
take first place with their pitch to Enterprise-Rent-A-Car

Ebitimi Imomotebegha said: “The whole team is delighted. This is a great achievement for us and a testament to the work all the girls put into our pitch.

“I enjoyed improving my management and consultancy skills, as well as learning about new concepts which will make me a better leader in the future. Competing against other teams, making new friends and eventually winning are just the highlights of this great experience.”

Speaking at the event, Jamie Wharfe, talent acquisition manager at Enterprise Holdings, said: “A fantastic team effort with some great ideas and an incredibly detailed plan and presentation. They formulated a great presentation and ensured that everyone played to their strengths prepared their given sections.

“The team looked at demographic, socio-economic and financial analysis to substantiate their answers and provide reasoning behind the proposed ideas. Had this been an internal real-life work project, it would have exceeded our expectations – a massive well done!”

The BaL faculty also awarded two individual prizes; the Vice Chancellor’s Commendation, awarded to Stephanie Glazebrook for demonstrating outstanding leadership and the Business and Law Commendation, which was awarded to Ebitimi Imomotebegha, Melvin Riley and Nadeesha Piyadarshani Perera Liyanage who have all stood out to the programme team for their outstanding attitude throughout the Lead and Inspire programme.

In total 38 students across undergraduate and postgraduate studies took part in the inaugural BAME Lead and Inspire programme, having either applied to take part or received a nomination from their tutor.

 BAME - Melvin
Melvin Riley picks up his Business and Law Commendation award

The series of workshops were introduced by the DMUWorks careers team in BaL as part of the university’s dedication to narrow the attainment and progression gap for BAME students in higher education.

According to the latest government research, 88.6 per cent of white graduates were in sustained employment or further education one year after graduating, compared to 66.3 per cent of graduates from mixed white and black Caribbean backgrounds.

Graduates from an Arab background made up the highest percentage of ethnic groups without employment one year after graduating, with 35.7 per cent out of work.

To help close that employment gap, all students on the programme are given access to exclusive opportunities including a fast-track recruitment process.

Business and Law Career Development Managers Robyn Brown and Sam Dziemianko, co-organised the initiative with the support from Maximillian Chikwanha in the BaL faculty. Robyn spoke of its lasting impression on the students that took part.

She said: “Anyone who knows DMU understands that it’s such a diverse university with so much potential talent on offer. However, more still needs to be done to ensure more students from ethnically diverse or socially deprived backgrounds have the skills they need to build a successful career.  

“As a faculty, we wanted to create a series of workshops for these students, who have the potential to become fantastic business leaders but perhaps need some extra support at this stage. Our sessions have varied from negotiation tasks, where the students have had to sell 2D shapes to mock businesses, to work etiquette workshops and business scenarios.

“All this builds their understanding of what it takes to be a successful manager, while our enterprise consultancy sessions help the students understand what it’s like to work on a live brief and the teamwork required to tackle large projects.  

“Over the 5 weeks, I’ve watched how each student has become more team-orientated. Their mentalities have flipped and their communication skills, which are vital for business leaders, have improved drastically. 

 “It has been such an amazing initiative and every one of these students deserves huge credit for the positive steps they’ve taken. I’m so proud of seeing how far they have come.”

While an extension to the BAME Lead and Inspire programme hasn’t been confirmed at the time of this article, any student or employer interested in the scheme can contact balcareers@dmu.ac.uk for more information.

Posted on Friday 10th December 2021

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