Name: Whitney Joseph
Job Title: Banking & Finance Associate
Backstory: Although born and brought up in London, Whitney confesses that being raised in a Caribbean household meant her identity was heavily influenced by her Caribbean heritage. Growing up in a diverse part of London, she never considered herself to be an ethnic “minority”, but when she started university and went on to enter the legal profession she was surprised to realise just how underrepresented black candidates are within the profession. She found it challenging often working in environments with very few others who looked or sounded like her, in organisations which were not at all inclusive. Whitney now works with a number of organisations to help support and encourage black students to pursue a career in law and to promote the importance of diversity and inclusion within the legal profession.
Who or what influenced you to train as a lawyer? My decision to qualify as a lawyer started out of a genuine interest during my studies at sixth form. It wasn’t until I graduated from my undergraduate degree that I genuinely considered going on to pursue a career in law. At the time, I remember a well-being officer at law school asking whether I had “properly thought it through” as the profession wasn’t suited to “people like [me]”. In hindsight, I think that conversation gave me all the motivation I needed to make it through to qualification.
If you didn’t pursue a legal career what would you be doing now? I would love to have been a paediatric nurse, so quite the opposite to my current day job!
What does success mean to you? So far, my success has been about overcoming challenges and achieving things which at one point seemed impossible. It’s being able to work hard, commit myself and not give up even when it’s not going to plan.
Imagine a time when you felt like giving up. What helped you bounce back? I was diagnosed with Sickle Cell disorder at six weeks old. Living with a long-term health condition has a way of making you feel like giving up quite frequently, but it has also instilled in me a resilience that I wouldn’t otherwise have. It constantly challenges me to push through even the most difficult of circumstances. I hate to be defeated. I realise that not everything comes easily, but when there’s a choice between giving up and trying again, the only right answer for me is to try again.
What advice would you give to your younger self? Run your own race, don’t be easily distracted by what’s going around you and focus on what it is that you want for yourself. It’s advice which I sometimes still struggle to follow today, but particularly at a younger age I put a lot pressure on myself to achieve certain goals by certain deadlines, purely because I felt that others were doing the same thing. Your life and your career is your own and your journey will never be the same as someone else’s – and that’s completely fine.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt about life and / or work outside of a formal education setting? Hard work beats talent if talent doesn’t work hard! It’s not enough to just show up and get by, you’ve got to give more if you want more out of life.
If there was one skill you could’ve excelled at during your formative years as a lawyer what would that be? Learning not to be afraid to ask questions. I would have saved myself a lot of time on many occasions if I were to just ask the question instead of hesitating and debating over whether it was a “silly” question. It’s something I now do much better, but I only wish I had been more confident from an earlier stage.