Disability rights campaigner crowned Greater Birmingham Chambers’ Future Face of 2020

A disability rights activist has been crowned the Future Face of Greater Birmingham at an annual business awards ceremony tonight.

Shani Dhanda was named the overall winner at the sixth Future Faces Awards, run by Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, for her work as a social entrepreneur and campaigner.

The annual scheme recognised the rising stars of the region’s business community aged 35 and under across ten separate categories.

Ms Dhanda won the charity and social enterprise category at the online ceremony before being picked from the group of winners to be named overall Future Face of 2020.

Birmingham Apprenticeship Awards 2020

The Birmingham Apprenticeship Awards are back for a second year, in partnership with the Ladder for Greater Birmingham. The event will be held online only on Friday November 27, 2020 and will celebrate apprentices, employers and training and education providers.

The awards are free and easy to enter via our online form which can be found here along with those all-important T&Cs. The deadline for entries is Friday September 18.

If you have any questions about entering or the awards in general, please email tamlyn.jones@reachplc.com and contact andrew.robinson01@reachplc.com or nikki.kandola@reachplc.com if you would like to learn more about becoming a commercial partner of the awards.

For more information visit our events website here and please follow the hashtag #BAA20 for updates on social media.

She will now receive a fully funded MBA from Aston University.

Ms Dhanda was born with a rare genetic condition called osteogenesis imperfecta, more commonly known as brittle bones, which affects one in every 15,000 people in the UK.

She was inspired to become a social entrepreneur, disability specialist and advocate for culture change after suffering from discrimination and feeling underrepresented in her early life.

In 2017, our sister website BirminghamLive reported how Ms Dhanda had seen 100 job applications go unanswered so she conducted an experiment and decided to leave her disability off her covering letter.

She was then offered an interview and secured a job in telesales.

Some of the winners at the 2020 Future Faces Awards (from top left): Kasim Choudhry, Thinkfest; Casey Bailey, Baileys Rap and Poetry; James Farmer, Cornwall Street Barristers; and Islam Issa, Birmingham City University
Some of the winners at the 2020 Future Faces Awards (from top left): Kasim Choudhry, Thinkfest; Casey Bailey, Baileys Rap and Poetry; James Farmer, Cornwall Street Barristers; and Islam Issa, Birmingham City University

Ms Dhanda has gone on to become a respected keynote speaker across business, government and not-for-profit organisations as well as founding and leading three organisations – Diversability, the Asian Disability Network and Asian Woman Festival.

She has also worked with major companies such as Google, Virgin Media and Viacom and starred in a national TV advert for LinkedIn’s ‘In It Together’ campaign.

The judging panel said: “Shani is a real inspiration on so many levels as a practitioner for inclusion across business, government, non-profit and wider society.

“She breaks down barriers and helps organisations integrate inclusion into their frameworks.”

The online ceremony was hosted at Chamber of Commerce House in Edgbaston and presented by Heart FM broadcaster Gemma Hill.

The full list of winners for 2020 is below and the shortlist can be read here

Apprentice of the Year

Taylor Rooke, Updates Media

Arts and Culture

Casey Bailey, Baileys Rap and Poetry

Charity and Social Enterprise

Shani Dhanda, Asian Woman Festival

Entrepreneurship

Kasim Choudhry, Thinkfest

Finance

Jo Drinkwater, Grant McKnight

Industry

Michal Nowinski, Arup

Legal

James Farmer, Cornwall Street Barristers

Public Sector and Education

Islam Issa, Birmingham City University

Sales, Marketing and Communications

Daniel Nikolla, Hardy Signs

Technology and Innovation

Tom Goodman, University of Birmingham

The Ambassador Award, which is given to a member of Future Faces, was won by photographer Edwin Ladd, from Mr Ladd Media, who will now receive a place on Common Purpose’s Emerging Leaders programme.


Business Live – West Midlands