Talent Spotlight: Shekemi Denuga

Arrival Network, Organisations, Student Spotlight, Talent

Shekemi, as a member of the Arrival Network, took part in our first international coaching programme. She gives some valuable advice for diverse young talent and business leaders, as well as sharing an experience that’s bound to inspire you.

“Most importantly, I’ve learnt the value in putting myself out there for opportunities and actively working to create the future that I want for myself.”

Shekemi was a participant of our first international coaching skills programme, which was delivered for Kerry. She told our Talent Manager how much she loved the course, so of course we had to have a Q&A with her to find out exactly what it was that she took from the experience.

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Prior to joining the Arrival Network, what was your situation?

Prior to joining Arrival Network, I was your average student who’d entered college with a “dream” and was going through the motions to achieve that dream without ever reviewing or update them. My 18-year-old self had made a decision and I was sticking with it.

How did you find out about Arrival Education?

I was introduced to Arrival Education through a friend who had found out about the programme through her course.

What was it that convinced you to join the Arrival Network?

Applying for the Arrival Network was really a no-brainer for me – I myself am a mentor to about 12 secondary school students.

You took part in a coaching programme as part of the Arrival Network. Can you describe it to us?

The coaching programme pairs a group of diverse students with a mentor from a company and they meet up every 4-6 weeks for a 9-month period. During each session, each pairing work through different exercises together regarding different challenges the mentee may be facing.

What benefits did you get from the programme?

This programme has helped me in so many ways.

It provided an avenue which encouraged me to define my goals and be vocal in communicating them to potential employers. It’s allowed to see the past the big brands name, such as Kerry’s, and instead see the “normal” people behind their major companies and a deeper knowledge of how these corporations operate. I am also so much comfortable and confident in a professional setting.

What did you get out of your coaching experience? What are your thoughts on being coached by a business leader?

Most importantly, I’ve learnt the value in putting myself out there for opportunities and actively working to create the future that I want for myself. From the Arrival Network, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to meet my mentor Joe Dunne, a truly incredible man who has gone above and beyond to help me in my journey to greater self-awareness.

Has the programme changed the way think about your future, your career and your path to getting to where you want to be – and how?

Yes. Also through Joe, I’ve had the opportunity to carry out a work experience placement at Kerry’s. This experience gave me the opportunity to take myself out of my comfort zone and experience what working in a professional laboratory entails. Before this programme, I was planning on finishing my chemistry degree, and mastering in chemistry and maths education. This decision seemed to make sense – I have a natural curiosity for science and a love for teaching. However, during the course of this programme I was encouraged to dream; I realized I love a challenge; and I love the idea of constant learning which accompanies most scientific jobs. I’ve now come to understand that my true passion lies with science, however, teaching isn’t limited to in a classroom setting. I am now applying for internships in analytical chemistry roles in hope of expanding my scientific knowledge and experience.

Are you glad you took part in the programme?

I cannot explain how grateful I truly am for the opportunity. In the last 6 months I have grown so much! To see a large company like Kerry participating in a programme like this gives me so much hope to what the future can hold.

How do you think the programme has benefited you personally?

Till later points in the programme, I never realized how many limitations that I placed on myself to keep my dreams small and achievable.

What message would you give to diverse young talent who are in the position you were before you joined the Arrival Network?

I would strongly encourage anyone to get involved in this programme or any similar ones. If not for the personal growth you are sure to experience, then for the amazing groups of people you’ll have the opportunity to meet.

The final thing I would say to other young people is be intentional in getting to know yourself and the kind of life you want to create for yourself in the years to come.

What message do you want to give to business leaders who haven’t identified the benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

Make the effort, it will in turn profit the company. Diversity leads to more viewpoints and more ideas which results in a better product or services; it shows representation for the customer base. Racially diverse teams outperform non-diverse ones by 35%, so diversity does work. There is a huge workforce of young, enthusiastic and educated students who belong to minority groups, use this to your advantage.

What advice would you give to business leaders who want to encourage more diverse young talent to join their companies but are struggling to do so?

To every business leader who wants to encourage more diverse youth talent to join their company – please reach out to us.  Join programmes such as Arrival Education’s or reach out to university societies that represent minority groups such as African Caribbean societies or Islam societies.

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