Role models series – inspiring stories from 10 winners and finalists of the British Muslim Awards

Learning from others’ career stories is a key part of our own decision making process and the journeys we experience. Who we learn from and how this takes place varies; it could be from specific role models, mentors, inspiring figures, or just from people we know and meet through our family, studies and work.

If we look at theory, modelling and the availability of examples to identify with was one of the five ways different social groups e.g. parents, family, teachers, peer and ethnic groups, could influence career choices in the classic ‘Community Interaction’ theory. This theory was presented in 1981 by the late Bill Law, a leading figure in careers education and counselling, and although is one perspective, still holds a great deal of relevance.

External influences of course may not always be beneficial. But what I do strongly believe is in this changing and competitive jobs market, and especially for our young people and groups who may face additional challenges, we need to look at positive ways of connecting them with professionals. Showcasing examples, stories, successes and achievements is a vital tool for raising aspirations, exploring a range of ideas and gaining insights and knowledge about different roles.

With this in mind, I decided to start this ‘Role Models’ series as a way of illustrating different career stories and experiences. My series starts with 10 finalists and winners from this year’s and previous British Muslim Awards, which as you will know from my previous blog post, I was honoured to be one of the winners in January.

These 10 men and women’s achievements speak for themselves. Working across a diverse range of sectors such as media, publishing, business, finance & law, to the police service, women’s rights, science, medicine and sports, they have been involved in ground breaking and innovative work, creating change locally, nationally and even globally. They have powerfully challenged stereotypes, cultural and community expectations and broken down barriers.

Each story is unique, with some candid accounts of overcoming personal trauma and difficulties, professional challenges, lessons learnt, role models and sources of inspiration ranging from faith, family, teachers and colleagues to public figures. And each one has also shared some valuable tips for getting into their respective fields.

It was such a pleasure to interview these individuals, and I personally gained a lot from completing this project. My hope is that whatever your background, there is something we can all learn and take away from these interviews.

Without any further ado, the interviews are presented below. My deepest thanks to each of these individuals for their time and valuable contribution, and I wish them the very best and further success in their careers and professional life.

Nasreen Ahmed is a Script Editor on BBC daytime drama ‘Doctors’, where she commissions writers to write episodes, giving guidance at every stage of the scripting process. She has been with the BBC for nearly 15 years, and has also spent a brief period on ‘Coronation Street’ as a Storyliner. Nasreen was winner of ‘Services to Media’ 2017. For full interview, please click here.

Naz Award
Nasreen Ahmed

Chief Superintendent Bas Javid is Commander for Solihull Police and as a senior police officer undertakes several force level roles covering the West Midlands area. He’s been with the police service for over 20 years, and prior to this served with the Royal Navy. In 2017, Bas was winner of ‘Uniformed Services of the Year.’ For full interview, please click here.

Chief Supt Bas Javid

Zlakha Ahmed MBE is Founder of Apna Haq, a leading women’s rights organisation tackling domestic/sexual violence facing black and ethnic minority women in Rotherham. In 2016, she was awarded an MBE for her services to women’s rights and community cohesion. Zlakha was a finalist for the ‘Noor Anayat Khan Muslim Woman of the Year’ 2017. For full interview, please click here.

Zlakha Ahmed

Dr Kal Karim is Associate Professor in Chemistry at the University of Leicester, Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) and Deputy Head of the Leicester Biotechnology Group (LBG). His roles include teaching, research, careers support and entrepreneurship; in addition he is involved in extensive international activities with China. In 2017, Kal was winner for ‘Services to Science & Engineering.’ For full interview, please click here.

Dr Kal Karim

Nazia Khatun is a Body Transformational Coach, and founder of Fitness Reborn UK. Her love for sport began after meeting Laila Ali, daughter of the late Muhammed Ali, who inspired her to go into boxing. As a coach, she takes women, particularly from the South Asian and Arab community, on a journey to recreate habits and patterns so that they are able to have a better relationship with food and exercise. Nazia was a finalist for the ‘Noor Anayat Khan Muslim Woman of the Year’ 2017. For full interview, please click here.

Nazia Khatun

Sheikh Bilal Khan is Co-Chairman and Partner at Dome Advisory, a leading Islamic finance and Shariah advisory firm. In addition he holds a number of advisory roles, including for the UK government, and is uniquely positioned as both a Shariah Scholar and an English qualified lawyer with ‘magic circle’ law firm Linklaters. Bilal was winner of ‘Religious Advocate of the Year’ in 2013, and a finalist in 2014 and 2017. For full interview, please click here.

Sheikh Bilal Khan

Shahida Rahman is an author, writer, presenter and campaigner; she is director and co-founder of Perfect Publishers Ltd  an award winning print-on-demand book publishing company. Her works ranges from historical fiction, non-fiction and short stories. She is actively involved in her local community and has campaigned to tackle racism and other injustices. Shahida was a winner for ‘Arts & Cultural Awareness’ award in 2015. For full interview, please click here.

Shahida Rahman

Isa Mutlib works within the education and skills sector globally, having established an award winning international education company. He is Group Project Director for Pathway Group, a national workforce development solutions company and also is Executive Director for the BAME Apprenticeship Alliance. In 2017, Isa was a finalist for ‘Entrepreneur of the Year.’ For full interview, please click here.

Isa Mutlib

Dr Hina Shahid is a portfolio GP and also Chair of the Muslim Doctors Association, a voluntary organisation which delivers multidisciplinary health promotion and education to ethnic minorities in the UK. She is involved in teaching, research and humanitarian work, including strengthening family medicine in Palestine. In 2017, Hina was winner of the ‘Dr Abbas Khan Services to Medicine’ award. For full interview, please click here.

Dr Hina Shahid

Ibrahim Rahman is a presenter, blogger, filmmaker, and also web designer and developer for Perfect Publishers Ltd, an award winning print-on-demand book publishing company. Through his work he has been utilising digital media to engage and empower the youth within Bangladeshi and other communities. Ibrahim was ‘Services to Media’ finalist in 2016, and ‘Services to Creativity and Technology’ finalist in 2017. For full interview, please click here.

Ibrahim Rahman



Published by Monira Ahmed

Careers Professional & Blogger; passionate about International Careers, Diversity Matters and Mentoring.

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