Confessions of an AWMB Intern: Week 1

AWMB my picFirst confession: I’m a blog virgin. So in this first one, I will keep it light. I will save the gory work that actually goes on behind the scenes at AWMB for next week.

Me. I am a penultimate-year BSc Economics student at UCL. Cue the yawns. Plus I am Asian. Uh-oh, of course that means I am destined for two things: banker or accountant. I’m also a woman. Therefore, after a few years in the City I will probably pack it all in to become the rewarding position of a housewife.

Them. Rupinder Kaur and Panna Chauhan. The women who rejected the above stereotype when, after conquering their fields in their corporate world, set up their own businesses. Furthermore, they are now helping other Asian women do the same with their social enterprise initiative, Asian Women Mean Business. It is basically a wake-up call to the ladies in our community that we can do it, we can be self-sufficient and it provides a support system for all the challenges we could be faced with along the way. And that is why I decided to join the AWMB force.

Us. Rupinder and Panna, having only started AWMB several months ago, needed someone to share the workload of a booming start-up with in order to better expand and develop the business for you guys. Meanwhile, I had just come back from doing work experience in India and then partying on the USA West Coast and needed to do something (preferably productive) to keep myself occupied until my return to university in September. Hence I was delighted when a family friend referred me to the AWMB job opening. I have endured and enjoyed tough internships at top financial firms but had not yet dabbled in the adventure that is the taking-off and promotion of a start-up. Additionally, I was excited by the prospect of meeting and learning from leading business owners. As you can imagine, at 21 years old, networking with successful entrepreneurs is not exactly a common occurrence. Luckily, Rupinder and Panna saw this passion in me (or maybe they just liked my outfit) and I became the third member of their team.

Our first time. My first morning in the job was spent at the Houses of Parliament. Not bad for a first day, right? We met with MP Lorely Burt, the appointed “Women in Enterprise” champion for the government, to see how we could help each other to fight for the same cause. I was intrigued when listening to the three ladies’ discussion on potential government policies to push female entrepreneurship but I was more amazed that afterwards, Rupinder asked me how I thought the meeting went. Employers that want to hear the opinion of their new intern? On behalf of myself and many of my undergraduate peers, that is a first!

And that is just how Rupinder and Panna operate; they find the value behind your ideas. It is easy to see why so many professionals have turned to them for business advice. At the same time, they are fearless and headstrong. They walk into a room, armed with their heels and bright lipstick, and not only does everyone look but everyone listens. To be honest, when we sat in front of the Deputy CEO of RBS, Chris Sullivan, in his office on only my second day at AWMB, I was nervous when just casually conversing about my banking work experience. I thought here he is: a CEO, father and pioneer of gender equality for businesswomen, and here I am: mere mortal. But Rupinder and Panna made breaking down that mental barrier seem easy. Confidence is something an Asian woman can typically lack and they are working to stamp that out early in each woman they aid.

They are already boosting my confidence; making sure my voice is heard at events (even when I think nobody cares), allowing me to takeover AWMB’s social media and even encouraging me to write this blog which I have decided I will continue to do with more juicier confessions next week, I promise.

Please feel free to comment with questions, telling me how I did with my first blog or perhaps giving a topic or issue you think I should have a go at banging on about next week! Thank you for the warm welcome, AWMB community.

Saijal Reahal

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