By Karla Noor
Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, is a Senior Lawyer & Founder of the Women in Leadership Publication. Alongside this, she is an active Women’s Rights campaigner, a Huffington Post contributor, a wife, mother and author who loves travelling and food. Mess Magazine was given a fantastic opportunity to interview her on her career, female empowerment and family life.
What made you choose the career of a solicitor? Have you ever thought of doing something else?
Law was a natural transition for me – it feeds into my basic sense of right and wrong. More importantly, is how powerful a tool like a well drafted narrative can be in articulating and conveying tangible and intangible results. I particularly like the corporate and commercial area of law which can be quite complex and challenging. I always wanted to be a writer and wrote short stories when I was younger. As a child I had considered going into theatre arts! I could really see myself on stage acting in front thousands of people. But alas it was not meant to be!
Do you think women are still under-represented in the legal sphere?
Very much so in terms of a fair and solid representation of women in senior leadership in law, in particular women from the Black Asian & Minority Ethnic communities. I have had the opportunity to speak with some trailblazing female lawyers who are solidly advancing the cause of transitioning more women into senior leadership roles in law. To name a few, Vanessa Davies (Director-General, Bar Standards Board), Funke Abimbola (General Counsel, Roche) and Chantal Aimee-Doerries (2016 Chairman of the Bar Council) are doing a great job and you can read about their views on this in the Spring issue of the Women in Leadership publication – available free online at www.wilpublication.com
In your opinion, what do you think should be done to promote/encourage young women to pursue a career in law or any other originally ‘male’ job?
We need to breakdown the stereotype of ‘it’s a man’s job’ and be the change we want to see. Mentoring and education can significantly help change the mindset. Female role models in industries like Technology, Construction and Engineering to seek out the next generation and give them the benefit of their experience. I would strongly advise young women to boldly ask questions, challenge the status quo and don’t be afraid to stretch yourself and take new opportunities for growth.
What advice would you give young girls who want to make it in law?
Don’t be discouraged. Stay on course with your agenda and see the legal field as more than an application of the letter of law. The skills you acquire as a lawyer are some of the most powerful and influential skill sets that, if nurtured, can transcend an individual across different sectors in and outside the law. It is a singularly transferable job that can feed into any other profession or interests you may have.
You have covered so many sensitive issues – feminist, Muslim ban, politics – for so many of us it is very difficult to really voice our opinions on such controversial topics. How do you find strength and courage to do that?
The strength comes from knowing somebody has to talk about it and for me that strength is from the incredible women who share their powerful inspirational journeys of lessons learnt and challenges overcome with us. ‘If not me then who; and if not now then when’ as famously coined by Hillel. We can’t hide from difficult subjects. If we are uncomfortable talking about it then what about those going through it? We must be responsible with how we deliver our opinions and ready to accept others will think differently from us. I see differences of opinion as a great platform for engagement and growth. We can agree to disagree but I will leave having learnt a thing or two which would not have happened had we not engaged in discourse.
Most of the people just shrug it off and say ‘oh it is not my problem, someone can deal with it’. What would be your response to them?
Stop! If we all think it is somebody else’s problem until it becomes ours then some of the greatest changes in human and women’s rights would never have happened. I take the view that if it can happen to you then it can happen to all of us. We are not free until we are all free.
What would be your advice to the new mothersthere trying to balance their careers and family life?
Take each day as it comes – there is no magic answer. Balance your choices and sacrifices. Stop feeling guilty when you’ve made a decision. Ambition is a good thing. Enjoy your family, they keep you grounded.
What pushed you to launch Women in Leadership Publication? What inspired you?
Birthing the Women in Leadership publication is for me an ongoing incredible experience. With each issue, I am transformed from where I was and a step closer to where I should be. I am passionate that as women we hold the key to our breakthrough and transformation of society into a place where all forms of human diversity and inclusion are drivers for growth, sustainability and accelerate unity.
What do you aim to achieve through this publication?
To be the editorial women can count on that delivers global content and interviews that are highly driven, ambitious and inspirational. We demonstrate that the journey of leadership for women is singular without deference to race, age or level of education. A platform where women across diverse cultural backgrounds, ethnicity and at different stages of business or career can discover thought provoking opinion pieces, diverse and progressive ideas, and content that challenges, provokes and changes ways of thinking.
Have you encountered any obstacles so far? What were they? How did you deal with them?
Like anything in life, there are always lessons learnt when you start a new business. I say pick yourself up and dust yourself off when you’ve been served a curve ball. Don’t let the Nos stop you. Keep knocking and thinking outside the box and the NO will eventually turn to a Yes. Definitely collaborate and partner where possible. Don’t think you have all the answers because you don’t. When you are stuck, ask for help.
And finally, what are your aspirations for the future both personally and professionally?
I am a constant work in progress, always pushing and stretching myself. I am very excited about what the future holds and grateful that God who has brought me this far will take me all the way! Personally, I plan to be more mindful of my present and enjoy my now. Professionally, I am exploring new ideas and opportunities.
Follow Dr Shola on twitter @SholaMos1 and website www.drshola.com
Join the Women in Leadership publication community on twitter and facebook @Wilpublication