Hind, determined to change the course of her life and positively impact the lives of others, found her calling, not at the UN – but at Standard Chartered.
Hind Naciri, Senior Sustainability Manager, Europe, UK
It’s funny how when you're younger, you have dreams for your career, but end up doing something completely different. Not for the lack of will or ability, but lack of access to opportunity.
I experienced first-hand what it was like to have limited opportunities when I was younger. I was from a working-class family and lived on a council estate in East London for most of my childhood. As a young girl, my ambition was to change the world and I went to university to study Arabic and Politics so that I could do that at an organisation like the UN. I was the first person in my family to go to university, and I naively expected that by doing well, I would get a job straight away. That didn’t happen for me.
I struggled to get a foot in the door, because I didn't have the connections or understand how to navigate the basics of CVs and interview skills. I also had my own limiting beliefs about the possibilities for a ‘person like me’. That all changed one day. Sharon Heather, a colleague from the Bank volunteered to look at my CV and helped me improve it. I’d done some work while I was at university – developing a lot of local programmes and helped at a dance studio for young kids from the council estate. Sharon offered simple tips but most importantly, she invested her time to share her insights and that inspired me to want to do that for others.
An unlikely match made in heaven
A month later, I received a call about an entry position in Corporate Affairs at the Bank. However, initially the idea of working for a big corporate (and a bank at that) didn’t sit well with me.
What a company stands for and how it demonstrates that every day has always been very important to me. I researched the Bank and learned about all the different ways it supported communities around the world. I realised at that point that this could be the opportunity to make the difference I had always wanted to make and so, it didn’t take me long to be sold on the idea or to fall in love with the organisation I was joining.
Within nine months of joining, I was promoted, which opened the opportunity to get involved in working within the community. Fifteen years later, I’m the Senior Sustainability Manager for Europe and making a real impact in communities like I had always envisioned.
"As a young girl, my ambition was to change the world and I went to university to study Arabic and Politics so that I could do that at an organisation like the UN. "
Bringing opportunity to girls around the country
Thanks to a passion for helping people and an organisation invested in creating inclusive communities, I now develop and deliver community programmes in Europe. One close to my heart has been our Futuremakers’ Goal programme, which uses sport, play and life-skills education to transform the lives of adolescent girls. The Goal programme allows girls to make informed choices about their future and has reached over 480,000 girls globally to date. Last year, in September, we launched Goal here in the UK to help young girls from underserved communities unleash their economic potential. In partnership with our UK delivery partner, Street League, Goal is now delivered in a number of schools across London and Liverpool.
Seeing the difference I’ve helped to make
I recently received feedback from Briony, a year 11 student who was looking to overcome her barriers; one of these being low confidence. She said, “If I never started the Goal programme, I wouldn’t have gained the opportunities and skills I have now… the Goal programme helped me understand how to gain the confidence to read clearly to a large group of people and got me thinking about how other people feel when they come out of their comfort zone.”
Hearing results like this puts a smile on my face. I didn’t end up working for the UN, but bringing Goal to girls in the UK, from communities like the one where I grew up, has been incredibly rewarding and a highlight of my professional career.