Elmira Sharshenbekova, a Local Business Manager of Northampton’s Metro Bank explains how a move to the UK, persistence, learning a martial art and being supported at work has transformed the path her life was set on as a teenager.
I was born and raised in Kyrgyzstan where culture and traditions are paramount. When I was only 16, my family started to discuss a possibility of an arranged marriage. Fortunately, at the same time an opportunity arose for me to immigrate to the UK for a better life and opportunities and I took the plunge and grabbed it.
Having never known anything other than my home environment, this move was a huge cultural and emotional shock for me, however, my family in the UK were supportive throughout and were able to guide me through UK traditions and the ways of living here.
My first priority was to learn the language so I could integrate into the local community and obtain relevant school qualifications. I studied non-stop, absorbing everything like a sponge trying to hone my communication skills. In just four years, I had obtained GCSEs and got accepted in one of the most prestigious universities in the UK to study a degree in Business Management.
Upon graduation, I joined the Metro Bank team as a customer service representative in Milton Keynes. Only three years into the role, with multiple leadership qualifications obtained, I become one of the local business managers and joined the team in Northampton.
Although banking and financial industry is often seen as a male dominated industry, Metro Bank supported and pushed me to be the best version of myself through every step. Women on Work (WOW) is an internal platform within the business and focuses on the issues that matter to all who identify as women. WOW supported me on my career journey within Metro Bank giving equal opportunities available for men, so I was given opportunities to grow into any area of the Bank.
To further better my self-confidence and self – esteem, I practice Brazilian Jiu – Jitsu (BJJ) at a local gym in Northampton. BST Academy is a martial arts gym based in Northampton which welcomes women and children in the local community to their free Judo and self – defence classes. BJJ is a form of martial art closely linked to self-defence which I am passionate about and would recommend to all women. BJJ doesn’t only help you with staying fit and safe, it also stimulates individuals intellectually.
Almost 11 years since arriving in the UK, I am truly settled, happy and working successfully to become a future female leader of Metro Bank.