Our Founder’s Journey

Anj Handa is one of Grant Thornton UK’s 2018 100 Faces of a Vibrant Economy.

Winner of the 2017 AFSA award for positive action, she’s been described by i-news as ‘a bloody brilliant woman‘!

Photo of Anj Handa

Hi, I’m Anj Handa, Founder of Inspiring Women Changemakers, and I’d love to share the life events and learnings that led me to set up the movement.

In 1998, after I graduated, I began a career in headhunting tech specialists, working between London and Frankfurt (I speak fluent German). It involved negotiating with much older, very conservative, German men, while I was a 20-something Indian woman who still looked like a teenager. Working in IT just before the dot-com boom was lucrative though. It meant lots of far-flung trips.

During this stage of my life, I developed grit and negotiation skills and developed my love of international travel.

In 2002, a series of traumatic events led me to become ill. I was hospitalised for a week – I wasn’t even 30. It was then that I decided to move back up North. I took on a role as the Director of a non-departmental Government body, bringing the business voice to employment and skills policies and programmes.

I loved this job, which gave me diplomatic experience through knowledge transfer missions in Europe and the US. I spoke internationally and trained others on how to create and lead sector and diversity-themed programmes and partnerships.

During this stage, I developed skills in influencing, lobbying and diplomacy and an understanding of the needs of people most disadvantaged in society.

In 2011, I left my high-paid career to establish my own consultancy.

I learned about resilience, patience, and most importantly, my core values and personal boundaries.

Two Board roles – as Chair of an Arts organisation and Governor of a University helped me to address ‘imposter syndrome’ by recognising that not only could I hold my own amongst older counterparts from finance, investment banking and academia but that I add real value through my own unique skills and knowledge.

I learned about my worth.

In 2014, my life really started to change when I was introduced to Afusat Saliu and her two daughters. I led a high-profile campaign on their claim for asylum based on the risk of Female Genital Mutilation to the little girls.

I pulled together a top legal team and led a Change.org petition. The petition gathered 128,000 signatures and attracted attention from the global media, MPs and even personalities such as Richard Branson.

Unfortunately, the family were eventually deported, but my fundraising campaign through a local charity secured their accommodation and schooling for a full year.

I learned about leading from the heart as well as the head. I learned about the power of authentic connections, online and offline. Mostly, I learned that by gathering professional, motivated women together, in collaboration with others, that it’s possible to make an impact on the lives of others on a massive scale.

Anj Handa with Afusat Saliu and her girls

My experiences planted the seed for Inspiring Women Changemakers and changed my life beyond recognition. They showed me what I’m capable of beyond my professional life and gave me a thirst for doing even more.

I was brought into contact with influential and inspirational people from all around the world. Possibilities I couldn’t have dreamt of have opened up. And I want the same for you.

Together, we can change the world. By becoming part of the Inspiring Women Changemakers community, you will start to believe it too. Join us.

Book Anj as a Speaker

As a professional lobbyist of over 15 years, Anj has a wealth of experience of social impact and inclusion. She has spoken in the UK and abroad, in venues as diverse at The House of Commons and the Palace in Brussels.

Anj has presented to audiences as intimate as 35 and as large as 400. Her talks focuses on three key areas of leadership and can be tailored to your objectives. These are:

  • Power of Connection (based on her global campaigning experience)
  • Navigating the Labyrinth: Shattering the Myth of the Glass Ceiling
  • Emotional Correctness in Leadership

Download her media kit for more details. Within the IWC membership, we have speakers for a wide range of subjects within our membership, so contact us to discuss your event. We are also able to provide expertise on accessiblity for your events as well as well as the structure and flow of the day.

Gary Hibberd

Gary Hibberd

MD of boutique Cyber Security consultancy, Agenci

Each year, Agenci hosts a ‘Cyber Security’ event, where we ask speakers from all walks of life to offer insight into our Digital world.

We were delighted to have Anj speak and her presentation went down a storm! She was articulate, funny, emotive and thought provoking - not easy to do in the time we gave her!

I would highly recommend Anj to speak at your event. I have nothing but praise for her approach and her style.

I don’t know Anj Handa personally, but she’s the person who got me write to Theresa May regarding the deportation… I’m almost 5o and have never written in protest before, but someone has to say “This is wrong.”

In a digital age with ease of access to information and protest, where so many causes, so many voices and so much noise dilutes rather than engages, I have found Anj Handa to be a model of information who cares about people and their rights. Anj is a modern-day protester – she speaks from a place of positivity and the belief that she can create change.