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We Rise By Lifting Others

A proud South Londoner of Bangladeshi and Irish heritage, Joy Crookes is a multihyphenate artist shaped by a rich tapestry of influences. She’s a singer-songwriter and multi instrumentalist. In 2020, Joy made the prestigious BRITS Rising Star Award shortlist, as well as placing fourth on the BBC Sound Poll, and headlining ‘ones to watch’ lists from YouTube Music, Amazon Music, MTV Push, NME and beyond. Renowned for her live performances, Joy has played Glastonbury, BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend and Later…With Jools Holland, as well as selling out her own headline tours across the UK and Europe.


Zohul Malikzada

Zohul Malikzada is a fully qualified Financial Advisor, trading as an Associate Partner Practice of St. James's Place. She is passionate about working with women to ensure they have secure financial futures for themselves, their families and their businesses.


"We need to see more women in finance. I want more support for women if they choose to work and look after families. Since Covid-19 we can work from home more, but I want that to be the norm. I want people to plan their own work based on family commitments, so that they don’t have to sacrifice one for the other"


Sponsor Zohul Malikzada for The Female Lead by Sane Seven small.jpg

I grew up in Afghanistan and India. I come from a big family, there's six of us and I'm the fourth eldest. We came to the UK in 2000 when I was 13. My mum and sister came first followed by me, my two older sisters and my youngest brother, my dad came after. After arriving in the UK it felt like a fresh start which was amazing, but also rather scary as I couldn't speak the language.


I started school in year 9 and not being able to speak English was challenging to say the least. I used to have a teacher accompany me to every class to help me understand the lessons. I even had extra English classes so I could learn English faster.


When I was a little girl, I was often told I was mouthy and that I've got a big attitude. I was told these attributes would make a great barrister as I could really fight. I always wanted to do that, even when I arrived in the UK and first started going to school, I was determined that I would be a barrister.


Throughout my life, I've always had pushbacks. I had English teachers telling me, "your English is dodgy, are you sure you want to go and study law?" Even in my first year of University, my lecturer wrote a note saying, "it's not too late to change, I think this is too challenging for you.” But I persevered and I finished my degree with a 2:1. It was a huge achievement for me considering six years before I couldn’t speak any English.


Being Asian you're always pigeonholed into either being a teacher or something that would complement being a good mother and housewife. I always thought I'm not going to do that, I will prove people wrong. I knew I could have a very successful career and achieve whatever I wanted without having to sacrifice my family time.


After finishing my degree, I decided not to continue with law and ended up working in one of the biggest banks in the UK. It was rewarding but working in a big corporate company does have its challenges.

I always wanted to have the right balance, not sacrificing one for the other. I would leave work at exactly five o'clock and that really closed some doors for me. It meant that I was overlooked for promotions. I remember when I was pregnant with my first child my manager pulled me to a room and he said: "You're an Asian girl and you're going to have your first baby, things are going to change a lot for you and it may be that you don't want to come back to work, so why don't we have this conversation if you don't want to come back?"


I was really upset by that. I thought “how dare you assume that's what I would do as that's what a majority of Asian girls do?”. So, I proved him wrong. I came back to my role and then moved onto something better.


After my son turned one I decided to go back to work. I knew I wanted a job that would give me the flexibility to look after both my sons and progress in my career. I came across St James's Place and when I went for an open day they told me "the sky's the limit" and I thought “this is brilliant”. 


I decided to use my passion to start my own business. I wanted to work with women who’ve had similar journeys to me and are struggling to find a balance between family and career. I now look after women who want financial independence. We plan their journey so that they have a smooth and secure financial life.


We need more women in finance to give young girls the courage to explore a career in this industry as there is so much room for growth. 


If I could tell my teenage self one piece of advice it would be: "Don't let barriers change your path, be focused and go for it". 


I want to continue representing Asian women who want to enjoy both a career and family life. 


I want to help all the women out there who are struggling to reach out and tell them 'you can have both, and don't be afraid to say no'.

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