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Alumna of the Month - October 2016

Ummaima Jahan Dawood
BA Business Administration, 2012 

 

Ummaima Dawood, LSBU alumna

London holds a special place in Ummaima’s heart.  In 2009 her decision to travel from Bangladesh to London to continue her education came naturally; she was following in the footsteps of many family members that had come before her. She knew that studying in London, a city with a strong business links, would offer not only a great education but also the opportunity to build a strong network of contacts from across the world.

Upon completing her business degree Ummaima returned home as originally planned to join family business heading up FRC Bangladesh, a social enterprise that designs and develops bio-degradable fabric made from plant based fibres. Ummaima was introduced to the world of textiles at an early age, developing a keen eye.

“Every day is different.  I like to be involved in all parts of the business- a skill I have learnt from my father who is also a businessman.”

In her role as Director, Ummaima employs Bangladeshi women who have not traditionally had the opportunity to work.  The company has a strong social commitment and operates to make a difference to the lives of those neglected and cornered in society by helping them get their fair share and reach independence.

“Many women I work with need a lot of motivation as they are working in a completely different environment to their previous experiences. My personal drive comes from seeing these ladies create beautiful products and fabric; I know I can’t give up when things get tough because that would mean giving up on them.”  

“I always had a passion and a dream to study drama.  Originally I wanted to get into a drama school and when that didn’t happen LSBU turned out to be the perfect choice for me. I loved every moment of my time there and the course was amazing. I met some incredible lecturers and theatre makers and now, as graduates, we are making our own big dreams happen together." 

Ummaima wants to raise the global profile of Bangladesh by highlighting the rich heritage of Bangladeshi textiles and the people who produce them, making a lasting contribution to the sector. At just 29 years old, Ummaima is often the youngest director in a meeting or at a conference. As a result, it’s essential for her to demonstrate ambition and confidence in her own abilities if she is to succeed. To help with this, Ummaima has spent time working in a variety of departments across the company. 

“One day I will be working with the accounts department to talk about future growth plans and the next I’ll be with the design team leading creative sessions or heading out of town for factory visits. The only consistent factor across the working week is the drive everyone has to make things happen.”  

Ummaima believes that studying business gave her a solid grounding for industry, providing her with transferable skills that can be applied to a range of careers - like running a social enterprise. Her advice to current students echoes her belief in the importance of meeting new people and trying new things: 

“Fully utilise all the opportunities to meet new people, participate in things that come your way and embrace the small struggles that come with university life.  We don’t realise at the time but all of these experiences shape our personalities and prepare us for life after graduation.”

If Ummaima’s story has inspired you and you are looking to set up your own enterprise, see the event programme run by LSBU Student Enterprise. Thanks for sharing your story Ummaima and we wish you and your amazing team at FRC Bangladesh every success.