2019 had a number of highlights but it certainly saved the best to last with the announcement that I have been awarded an OBE in the 2020 New Year honours list for my work over many years promoting diversity and inclusion. It is a real honour (literally) to be recognised in this way and my family, friends and I look forward to the investiture ceremony in the early part of 2020.
Speaking of family there was another important moment for us in the last quarter of 2019 when it was announced that I would be joining the board of Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust as a non executive director. Guy’s is my local hospital but more importantly it is where my late father did his medical training. He came to London from Lagos by boat (via Liverpool) in 1948 and lived in Croydon where he met my mum. I appeared many years later but it’s because of Guy’s that I’m here at all! I’m so pleased to be able to continue his immense legacy in the healthcare sector by getting involved in the NHS at such a critical time and with one of the country’s leading Trusts. Dad is pictured below at home in Buea, Cameroon on the occasion of his 80th birthday in a replacement for his original Guy’s cap and gown that we got him as a present. The original went missing somewhere on his travels around Africa.
As well as Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust I joined two other organisations. The Elephant Group is a group of schools with a collective aim to get more students from disadvantaged backgrounds into elite universities. Matt Jones who is principal of Ark Globe Academy, one of my local schools, asked me to join him as a trustee of this new organisation. In May I become one of twenty founding partners of Impact X Capital which seeks to invest in entrepreneurs from disadvantaged backgrounds and thereby fill a gap in the private equity market.
The above three new organisations bring the total that I’m involved with to ten. That sounds a lot, and I suppose it is, but then again the total time commitment is much less than in my previous life as a PwC partner. Of the organisations that I was already with from 2018 I’m particularly pleased to see Kingston University continue its rise up the Guardian league tables by breaking into the top fifty for the first time in several years. 89th to 48th place in three years is a big move and a fair reflection of all the hard work that has been put in. Elsewhere the combination of Brexit related uncertainty, shortages of cash in the public sector and the difficulty of making substantial change happen has made it quite a difficult year for many of the organisations I work with. However I feel all of them are in a good place to go forward in 2020.
Over the course of 2019 I spoke on a range of platforms, mostly about diversity and inclusion. These included conference panels and seminars for Advance HE, the Association of Project Managers, Lewis Silkin, Kingston University, Inclusive Boards, the Centre for Social Investigation and Nottingham University. I also appeared on podcasts for my friends Olu Odubajo and Jonathan Perks. Thanks to all the above for inviting me to speak.