My parents moved to London from Zimbabwe around 20 years ago, and I joined them a few years after that to start high school. Over the last 30 years or so, much of my extended family moved around and settled in the United Kingdom, so when the Zimbabwean economy turned in the late 1990s and we decided to leave as well, it was the natural place for us to head to.
I was born in Harare, where my father ran his own business and my mom worked in the administration department of a mining company. All through our early growing up years, my parents had stressed to me and my older brother the importance of getting a good education and being dedicated to learning. They always had very high expectations of us, and this imperative from them manifested itself in my own ambitions for myself.
No big life change is easy when you’re a teenager but moving to London was quite educational as well. Zimbabwe is much more homogenous, so London’s diversity was an eye-opening and refreshing change. My friends became people who had come from all over the world. Interacting with people from different races, cultural background, and ways of thinking has been massively transformational for me. Being able to meet people from different places – with varying opinions and perspectives, I think, shapes and broadens your own individual perspective. You become more open to differences that exist and you are so much more accepting of these differences. I think that is tremendously important in this day and age, irrespective of your profession. The virtues of knowledge and this kind of experience can’t be overstated.
Our family has, of course, carried over our cuisine from back home. I think that’s where you maintain your cultural identity – we still cook a lot of local Zimbabwean dishes.
Another thing that has stayed with me is being responsible for others and not just for yourself. From a very young age, we were taught to be extremely accountable, to take care of siblings and cousins, and to respect and value the whole extended family and clan. Taking on a lot of responsibility was embedded in me from a very young age, and I bring that quality to everything I do – in my professional as well as personal life.