Formerly one of the youngest ethnic female politicians in the country, Rabia Bhatti is a young leader of leading vision and inspiration with a reputation of excellence. With a background in politics, Rabia is a college governor for the largest educational institution in Buckinghamshire, a board member of the Buckinghamshire Community Grants Panel and an executive Board member for ‘Remembering Srebrenica’. As an advocate for young people and women empowerment, Rabia is a regular contributor on the news and in print media.
How did you get started in your career?
I always knew I wanted to do something meaningful and impactful but didn’t know where to begin. As a young teenager, I became heavily involved with local volunteer groups and emerging opportunities in the community that brought people together. This allowed me to build my confidence and really understand the issues that people were facing and what facilities were available to them. By the age of 18, I became one of the youngest school governors in the country with the portfolio for children with special education needs. The following year I was appointed as the First President for the Buckinghamshire College Group and by the age of 20, I ran successfully in my local council elections to become the youngest Muslim female politician in the United Kingdom. Over the next decade, I served my constituency, played an active role within my party, sat on numerous boards and advisory panels nationally and spoke at over 500 events internationally. I sought out a network of influential mentors that would guide me and support me on my journey, finished of my undergraduate degree in Politics and Philosophy and completed as MSc in Middle East in Global Politics, Islam, Development and Conflict. It was important for me to have a strong academic background whilst simultaneously managing a busy and intense career in the public eye.
What is a highlight of your career?
There are so many!! I feel blessed to have had countless memorable moments over the last decade in my career but undoubtedly, being the Youngest Muslim female to be honoured with one of the highest presidential civilian Awards of Tamgha e Pakistan at the age of 21 by the Government of Pakistan has to be up there along with having a road named in my honor in Pakistan. I will also never forget the feeling of walking through the corridors of Buckingham Palace to meet with HRH Prince Charles, or the countless times I have been invited to 10 Downing Street or multiple times I have been able to address Heads of State in meetings and at events all around the world.
But perhaps the biggest highlight of my career is actually being able to have made a real impact on the lives of hundreds of young people, women, and children in both the UK and Pakistan over the years. Nothing comes close to knowing that your drive has made the world a better place for someone else, helped them through a challenge or removed a difficulty from their path. It’s an absolute honor to have those moments as a highlight of my career.
How do you unwind?
I love to read and drink Earl Grey tea! It’s incredibly important to be able to unwind and reflect deeply especially as my work is very much in the public domain where it can be really challenging to take a step back. I’m blessed to have been able to cultivate a small but powerful circle of individuals and mentors that remind me to focus on myself and really enjoy the simple pleasures in life such as being able to have quality time with my friends and family. I feel passionately about books and at any one time, you will find at least two in my handbag no matter where I go.
What does an average workday look like to you?
I think the best thing about my job is that no two days are the same so it’s really hard to pinpoint what an average day would look like. For example, one day I could be giving a presentation on a policy paper to a room full of CEO’s and the next day I could be delivering speeches in three different parts of the United Kingdom! The hardest part of my average day is being able to juggle and balance my workload and this inevitably takes up a big chunk of my time. Being involved in multiple projects and on various boards means that my average day is typically very long and involves being able to switch from one hat to another seamlessly.
What has been the greatest hurdle for you to overcome in your career?
All successes come with a string of hurdles alongside them. For me personally, the greatest one is being able to have faith in my own abilities to be the best person for the job. Having started on my journey at such a young age, It took me quite some time to shed all the insecurities about myself and really embrace who I was as a person – to be empowered b my own image, my faith, my ethnic identity and my ability to work hard and deliver consistent results time and time again. Over time I learnt that I didn’t need to fit in and it was precisely because I was so different to everyone else that defined who I was – a resilient young woman of Pakistani origin, proudly Muslim with a strong drive and infinite ambition.
What is the best thing about your job?
The best thing about my job is that I am able to make both independent decisions and decisions as part of a wider group which means that the learning curve is constant. I love being able to learn on the job and have expertise around me that I can both trust and critically question. Without a doubt, being able to meet with people, engage with them and help provide solutions to their issues and wider issues in the society makes me both personally and professionally happy. Working with people towards a greater goal is incredibly fulfilling and I love that I can do that as part of my day job.
What are your plans for the future?
My plans for the future are to keep evolving as an individual and working towards being a strong female powerhouse for other women in the political and corporate world – its hard work but every day we collectively come closer to making our society and community a more equal and diverse place to not just survive but to thrive.