‘I want to work somewhere I can bring my whole self. Somewhere I can talk about my culture’
I was about five or six when I knew I was going to be a lawyer. We did a lot of classroom debates, and my teachers said to me ‘you’re going to be a politician or a lawyer’. I chose the more popular route.
I never really considered getting into the top tier of law firms until I joined some mentoring schemes. Before that it was never a goal. But then I thought ‘I can do it if I am driven and want it enough.’ And I did.
When I was 16 I went into my first corporate environment. It was very daunting – I had never been to such a big office before. I grew up above the shop that my parents ran for over 25 years and to me, an office was the small room at the back.
I grew up with the phrase ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’. But coming from a background where my parents didn’t know anyone, I had to go about making my own contacts. I did get some rejections, but the acceptances to connect that I did make – I built upon them.
It’s beneficial for any industry to have diversity of thought. If you use people’s backgrounds and experiences to approach problems, and reach solutions, you often get a more efficient and innovative idea than you would having 10 people from the same area and education.
I want to work in a place where I can bring my whole self. Not to be judged based on your background. Somewhere where I could talk about my culture, where I could talk about what happened when I went to a wedding last week, or a function I went to at the temple, and talk about my family or my experiences.
I’m very keen to succeed. I write lists, whether that be for a day or five years’ time. Knowing I can tick something off and say ‘yes, I did this’ – that’s what really drives me. I also like to win – and when I lose, I learn from my mistakes and move forwards.
Companies should be representative not only of their employees, but of their clients. By showing diversity through all ranks of leadership, companies can better reflect their clients’ needs. And businesses can become more diverse simply by hearing the views of their people. Leaders should invite those from all levels of the firm to see what it takes to run the company, and they in turn should see what it’s like to run the day-to-day. Both sides can learn from each other.
Symrun is studying law at university. She took part in the Freshfields vacation scheme as well as a mentoring scheme run in collaboration with Aspiring Solicitors, an organisation that aims to increase diversity in the legal profession.