Pam Sheemar

Government and Law BA (Hons)

Being the first in her family to go to university, Pam threw herself into education and took every opportunity available to her. Now, she’s paying that back by helping others succeed in her role as Regional Enterprise Director at Natwest, and aims to make commercial banking more diverse.

“I was the first person in my family to go to university, so I had no one’s footsteps to follow in. When I graduated, I brought lots of my family members with me, including my baby. My family had never been to a graduation ceremony before, and it was really special to share that with them.

Coming from a diverse background, where everyone in my family had gone straight into work, I was navigating cultural challenges and trying to find a happy medium between studying and working part-time.

I joined NatWest soon after I graduated. You might think that you can’t get into finance by doing a degree in Government and Law, but that’s a myth. Actually, the skills you learn on your course are transferable to other sectors. I’ve worked in retail branches and with commercial customers, and every single role has taught me something new.

Nowadays, I'm a Regional Enterprise Director. If someone’s got a business idea, my team and I help them grow that business and navigate the environment. I love working with entrepreneurs because I think they’re the lifeblood of our community. Each day varies, but if I’m not in our entrepreneur hub in Birmingham, I’m out speaking to businesses and finding out what challenges they’re facing, to help them grow and succeed.

Banking has traditionally been quite a male-dominated field, so you can often be the only female in the boardroom. In addition, you can also be the only diverse female in there. So, it can be a real challenge to navigate that.

I’m a Co-Chair of the Multicultural Network at NatWest, one of three that are elected. I've created things like the Career Accelerator, which helps people from diverse backgrounds grow, through things such as developing a mentorship programme, signposting and breaking down barriers.

I’m really proud of all the work that’s been done as part of the Network, as I'm passionate about making the journey into a career easier for others. I put myself in their shoes and think what I would have wanted when I first started out, and then I try and create that for others.

My course mainly focused on government, but I had some modules of law too. For the past seven years, I’ve also been sitting on the crime bench as a Magistrate in the Black Country. This has allowed me to practice law and use what I learned on my course and to help people in different situations. If you can be compassionate, balanced, and show good judgement skills, it really makes a difference to people’s lives.

I also support a charity once a month with feeding the homeless. With the cost of living, more and more people are in need of help, so it’s just about being a good citizen and helping those in need. It feels weird to say I’m a role model, but if I am, I use that in a positive way to help others grow.

I want to have more opportunities to pay it forward in the future and unlock opportunities for others. If you can create future leaders, the graduates of today could be your boss tomorrow.

If you’re considering studying at BCU, I would say go for it. Immerse yourself in university, learn everything you can from your lecturers and your peers. You meet new people and access new opportunities. You only have a finite time at university, and you will find that it flies by so make sure you make the most of it and experience it to the fullest.

When opportunities come your way, you can’t let imposter syndrome get in the way. You must reach out and embrace them, even if it means going out of your comfort zone. If you’re not a bit scared, then you’re not growing.

To me, I AM BCU means being proud of this university and its students. I was born and raised in Birmingham, and if I hadn’t come to BCU, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

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