Victoria’s journey of change
It is possible to do great things. This is the mantra of self-belief drummed into a young Victoria that now influences her life decisions. As the eldest daughter of five, growing up on a council estate in North London, Victoria had great ambition but felt an absence of female role models in her community.
During her time at Warwick Business School, Victoria attended a professional panel discussion for women and was immediately inspired to curate a similar kind of event for the people in her community. She launched the Us Group to help connect organisations with talented young women from disadvantaged backgrounds similar to her own, and now provides guidance and connections for young women across the UK.
The Foundation Year programme and her subsequent Undergraduate degree at Warwick Business School, gave Victoria the building blocks and platform to realise her ambitions. She describes her experience at WBS as a journey of self-discovery. “Being part of the Business School is so much more than collecting that qualification, it’s about a holistic journey to understanding yourself, your goals and to becoming your own Change Maker.”
Make the most of every opportunity you are given – even if, at the time, you do not understand why; it is there for a reason
The Us Group stemmed from years of working with and campaigning on behalf of young people in Islington. Victoria knew from an early age that she wanted to inspire hope and rally for social equity. Her extensive experience as a volunteer, mentor and eventually a director of a youth club, led Victoria to win the Islington Young Voice Award in 2012. She proceeded to sit on Islington’s Youth Council for two years where she continued to develop her experience and influence.
Victoria grew up in a low-income household but true to her entrepreneurial spirit, she began making her own money at age eight selling cakes on her estate. Despite always feeling overlooked and like the underdog, she set her sights on Russell Group universities. In 2016 she was accepted on the Foundation Year programme at WBS, later transitioning onto the full Undergraduate degree. She was immediately struck by the vast range of opportunities afforded to Warwick students in comparison to her previous experience back home. As a warrior of social justice, Victoria felt it imperative to share her experiences with others, to help bridge the gap across socio-economic backgrounds and widen access to opportunity.
The unwavering support she received from her Lecturers and Personal Tutor gave her the confidence to push boundaries. She was encouraged to always be inquisitive, challenge the norm and be a critical thinker. “I am so grateful for the support and care that my Personal Tutor showed me. They helped me to not only understand more about university life but understand myself and my personal interests. Being confident in my own skin and accepting who I am is what I value most from my University experience.”
Be confident in your own skin and accept who you are
Whilst still studying at WBS, Victoria organised an event for young girls in North London, featuring a panel of professional women who had overcome barriers to success. “I only expected a handful of people to turn up, but 115 came from all over the capital.” Since then, the US Group has expanded to reach a community of over 1,500 disadvantaged 15 to 19-year-olds in Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and Dublin, delivering personal development, leadership skills and networking opportunities. It has worked with more than 50 schools, inspiring and mentoring young women to realise they can follow in Victoria’s footsteps and be more ambitious in their career goals.
“Organisations need to attract and retain the next generation. There are so many reports on how Generation Z will change the way we work; they are more vocal about social and political issues and more demanding of organisations. Our young women are the future leaders that are going to be really shaking up how organisations work.”
“After five years we have a huge alumni network now supporting our young women,” said Victoria. “Many are going into higher education or being selected for graduate schemes at top companies, with many more gaining employment and really reaching the goals we set when we started – it has been a fabulous journey that I hope this award will help us to keep growing.”
Victoria has quit her corporate 9-5 and is now pursuing her dream full-time. She is driven to developing the US Group further, empowering under-privileged women to gain access to opportunities they only ever dreamed of. “There is nothing more rewarding than helping people to get a job”.
Don’t be conventional. Leave the legacy you want to
Victoria’s palpable energy has been acknowledged across the business world. She was the Winner of Biggest Champion of Social Mobility in 2018, one of the Daily Mail Inspirational Women Finalists in 2019, Campaign Faces to Watch in 2020, and Winner of the Community Organisation Award for Gender at the National Diversity Awards in 2020. She has been featured in several publications including the BBC, The Sunday Times, The Big Issue and the Guardian, and has spoken at a number of events including an All-Party Parliamentary Group, speaking about Body Image and Anxiety. She was also asked to sit on the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Board, looking after 280+ youth clubs in London.
WBS taught Victoria the valuable lesson to never feel ashamed of her humble beginnings, but instead embrace the resilience this taught her. A philosophy she then chose to share with other women, to inspire them to believe more is always possible.
Self-development is essential. Build sustainable habits through gradual progression