When you're simply following your passions, you never do so expecting to be awarded for it. Of course, I delight in a sense of accomplishment from my efforts and even more so when I'm rewarded for them however formal recognition was never really on the agenda.
For as far back as I can recall I have been primarily driven by opportunities to learn. Without any immediate reward, insofar as I could say that by putting myself forward for something I would gain experience that I wouldn't have otherwise, I'd be all for it. In the early years of my time at Our Lady's Convent high school in Hackney, this manifested itself in the form of volunteering with the recycling society and running half-term activities for primary school children. Later on in school life, attending lunchtime debating clubs and being a student council representative amongst other things kept my keen-bean complex satisfied.
I began to realise that through volunteering my time to take part in what others may have seen as time-wasting activities, I had developed the confidence and skills to excel in later opportunities that were to cross my path - many of which have put me in the running to become a recipient of the Young Star Women of the Future Award, in association with Shell. I am thrilled and extremely humbled to have been shortlisted for this category for a variety of achievements that have origins in my fond memories of high school.
While at sixth form, I was a community leader with London Citizens who are an alliance of community groups seeking to exercise the power of civil society. Through the art of community organising we campaigned for a number of initiatives, most notably during my involvement, we were able to secure key jobs in the run up to the 2012 Olympic Games for local residents and had the organising authorities pledge that all 130,000 Olympic employees would be paid a minimum of the London Living Wage. I played an active role in recruiting and mobilising students from my sixth form to take part in various campaigns as well as speaking at public assemblies and attending meetings with members from the business and political community.
I began university with a clear idea of the career paths I wanted to pursue primarily because of opportunities I had explored while still at school. I had first considered finance as a potential career choice while at sixth form through an opportunity that I had been made aware of by one of my teachers. This allowed me to gain first-hand insight with a leading financial institution into what they did, as I hadn't the faintest clue beforehand. After the time I spent on this 3-day work experience programme, I was able to dispel some common misconceptions about the banking industry and make an informed decision about whether it was a suitable career choice to pursue further.
I'm so pleased to share the 'Young Star' category with other inspiring young women who I am sure, as I, refuse to compromise on excellence in everything they do. The Women of the Future Awards is an amazing platform to showcase the achievements of women across the country and highlight the trailblazing work being done in a variety of industries. Gender need not even come into question when judging potential or capability, neither should a whole range of social categories for that matter, but we should work towards levelling the playing field for all who want to give it their best shot to 'play'. Thus, if nothing else, I am most proud to be a shortlisted nominee for this award insofar as I am able to provide an example to other young women who share characteristics of my background that being keen to seek out opportunities (especially those that may not initially seem as such) matched with a personal 'no-compromise' policy on excellence can steer them in the direction to realise their potential.
Inez Sarkodee-Adoo is shortlisted for the 2014 Women of the Future Awards. For further information click here.
This year's awards ceremony will take place on Tuesday 28 October and is hosted in association with Shell.