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“Dream big and believe in yourself”: Sandwell Business Ambassador Sanjeev Gill on International Women’s Day

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2020, with its theme this year of ‘Each for Equal’, we spoke to our female Sandwell Business Ambassadors about their experiences of being business leaders. Here’s Sanjeev Gill.

Sanjeev is director of engagement at Sandwell College. She brings an education and skills insight to the Sandwell Business Ambassadors team, showing the Ambassadors ways to support businesses in Sandwell with apprenticeships, upskilling and commercial training. Sanjeev appreciates the fact that the Ambassadors is a team of equal opportunities, where “everyone is a valued member of the board”.

Like most women, Sanjeev has experienced sexism in the workplace. But she says negative experiences only make her raise her game.

“One experience in particular had me wanting to work harder and become successful. It was a very male-dominated organisation: all my colleagues were male and so were all the partners. It did not matter what I said and did, they wouldn’t listen to me. I stayed there for two years, then had to move on.

“This experience made me more confident. I secured another role very quickly – a managerial role. I never see [adversity] as a negative, always a learning curve to make me think differently and manage situations differently.”

Sanjeev is fortunate to have this resilience, but does she think the business world is improving for girls and women?

“I do believe things have changed. There are a lot of role models in the business world. More and more women have been talking about their experiences, and employers recognise diversity and equal opportunities.”

However, there is still more to be done, and Sanjeev believes education is the answer.

“Schools could do a lot towards educating young learners about equality in the workplace,” she said. “Role models are needed at home too, to encourage confidence and increase guidance. It’s also important to see employers reaching out – this is especially needed in the construction and engineering industries where many businesses are still lacking in females.”

According to Sanjeev, Sandwell College is a good example of a workplace with equal representation of women and men.

“We have a great mix; a c-suite of both females and males, and equal representation going all the way down to ground level. There is the sense that we have been recruited because of our skill sets and not gender.”

Sanjeev is a mother of boys and sees this as another opportunity to inspire the next generation.

“My children see me as a powerful woman who can multi-task and juggle my life with work and personal commitments,” she explained. “They love hearing about my day and my successes. They also realise that I have a commitment and have to work hard for my successes. I am their role model.”

And what would Sanjeev say to her 16-year-old self?

“Keep professional. Dream big and believe in yourself. You can do it!”

Happy International Women’s Day, which takes place on Sunday 8 March, from all of the Sandwell Business Ambassadors. #EachForEqual

More from the Sandwell Business Ambassadors: 

* “I did witness some female colleagues change career paths due to the actions of others”. Read about Chris Hinson’s early experiences of sexism in the IT industry.

* “I have faced instances where I have been overlooked in a conversation, regardless of role or perceived role”. Learn how Elaine Bruce handles being treated differently to men.

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The Ambassadors are a collective of business people in the Sandwell area with the aim of supporting the Sandwell Business Community.

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