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Women's History Month: We celebrate Miranda Brawn

LEADER: Miranda Brawn

THE IMPRESSIVE calibre of Miranda Brawn's CV places her among the highest-achieving women covered by 'The Voice' during Women's History Month this year.

A background in investment banking and law stood award-winning Brawn in good stead for her tenure as Vice Chair of the Black Cultural Archives (BCA), of whom she is now Patron. Her ongoing project, the Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Foundation offers career mentoring for those aged 14-21 and the impact of its work has been praised by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales as well as the Prime Minister's office.

The Voice caught-up with Brawn just after she received a Points of Light award from the Prime Minister.

Q: Did the Points of Light award come as a surprise to you or were you prepared for the announcement?

A: The Prime Minister’s Award was a total shock - I had no idea that I was nominated for it. That said, it was such a pleasant surprise to receive the call from 10 Downing Street to say that I had won the award. 10 Downing Street said that my hard work during the past 18 years was very much appreciated and they acknowledged the fact that I was literally changing the lives of young people to help increase diversity within the UK's professional workforce.

Q: How does being named a Point of Light connect to your day-to-day work as well as other projects and responsibilities such as your role as the Black Cultural Archives?

A: The Award is not connected to my day-to-day work. The foundation is my own initiative which was launched in my own time to help increase diversity and equality.

HIGH PRAISE: From left - His Royal Highness Prince Charles, Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Foundation mentee Leanne Lashley and Miranda Brawn at the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton, south London

My work at the BCA included implementing a diversity strategy when I was their Vice Chair, hence me bringing my scholarship idea to them and we teamed-up during the first year to help administer the scholarship application process. My new role at the BCA is Patron where I will continue to help support the BCA.

My other projects include giving back in one way or another,so this has been a nice way to bring all my projects and responsibilities together under one umbrella; whether that’s public speaking, mentoring or working with companies and UK leaders to help bring positive change.

Q: For those who aren't familiar with your diversity leadership foundation, what's the purpose of it?

A: The Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Foundation was founded to help increase race diversity within the UK workforce. It is focused on 14-21 year old young leaders who come from a black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background who are passionate about diversity. The foundation gives annual scholarships and diversity leadership lectures to young leaders to help them become a success. Recipients of the scholarship will receive funding, work experience, mentoring and coaching.

The winners are chosen by the best diversity leaders in the country who have successful careers. The diversity leadership lecture was launched and made history for being the UK’s first diversity lecture aimed at school children.

The rationale behind this was to help bring the issue of diversity to the next generation. There are lots of diversity events aimed at those already in the system and I wanted to launch something to help educate the next generation on the issues being faced in the workplace today. The aim is to help to motivate them to do something now to help make a change. I believe this will help to close the diversity gap at a quicker pace rather than wait for the students to complete their studies and enter the workplace, only for them to realise at that later stage that there is a diversity problem in the workplace.

Q: What was it about your personal career journey and experience that made you want to create the foundation?

A: For the majority of my career I have always been the only female and/or person of colour in a senior management meeting and I wanted to do something to help improve the statistics. It is important that everyone regardless of colour gets involved.

The Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Foundation aims to ensure that the best talent is recognised, encouraged, supported and rewarded.

Q: It seems like you have a lot on your plate - what do you do when it's time to relax?

A: Time management and organisational skills can allow you to do more than the average person if you are focused! Relaxation time to me means quality time with my loved ones, laughter, yoga and good food. It is the simple things in life that really matter and make you happy.

Q: Have you met some young stand-out stars who have gone through your leadership training / been in contact with your foundation? If so, what was special about them and their achievements?

A: There have been lots of young stand-out stars and the main traits are their academic excellence followed by their commitment to become diversity leaders with a strong willingness to learn. The chosen mentees are all stand-out stars who are doing great things in the diversity space.

Q: What do you think is the most important leadership quality a young person can develop?

A: Different leadership styles are appropriate for different people and different circumstances, and the best leaders learn to use them all. I would say, exhibit leadership 'PRIDE' with great confidence, which is them assuming a Personal Responsibility In Developing Excellence in Everyone around them. Being able to listen and respond with empathy is overwhelmingly the one interaction skill that outshines all other skills that a young person needs to be successful.

Q: What is happening next for your diversity leadership foundation?

A: Following the amazing Prime Minister’s Award win, I have just had the opportunity to discuss my extensive diversity work during my meet with His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall at the BCA. It was deeply humbling to have Prince Charles praise my extensive diversity work which has also helped the BCA and The Princes’ Trust.

The diversity leadership foundation will be opening the application process for The Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership scholarships within the next few weeks, which will then close in May 2017. The judging panel are amazing this year and represent some of the best diversity leaders in the UK. There are also sponsorship opportunities so that others can get directly involved to help increase diversity.

The Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Annual Lecture will be taking place at the University of Law during the UK Black History Month in October 2017. Click here for more details.

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