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Elham Fardad was just 18 when she found herself penniless, with a separated family and excluded in the UK because she was a migrant from war-torn Iran. She camped outside Birmingham city council offices for three days fighting for a right to be considered a home student to attend university in the UK. Graduating and fast forward 7 years, Elham had her first big career break as a newly qualified accountant with GE as a financial controller in their GE Energy business. She spent the next few years as a financial controller by day and a Six Sigma rep by night, working with the business to integrate and transform the operational and commercial processes into a regional centre of excellence. She often describes that period as GE supporting her to fly and at the same time she completed her studies as the youngest Executive MBA from the University of Warwick.

Elham’s lifelong dream for a family came true when she met her husband and had two children. During this time, she worked in various finance leadership roles at News Corp, turning around operational and financial performance across their businesses and immersing herself in motherhood. Elham remembers discovering the EY offices on Colmore Row in Birmingham as a young teenager, selling perfumes door to door in order to buy fashionable clothes. She longed to work in a company like EY… and as hard work, determination and luck would have it, Elham spent the next decade after News Corp at EY, challenged by her clientele. In her talks on gender parity and parenthood, she often mentions how EY’s flexibility enabled her to flourish as a Senior Manager whilst also being a working parent to prioritise time with her children.

Having achieved her dreams of working at EY, she now had a new dream of helping young people from migrant backgrounds. She had lived experience of being a struggling migrant and knew the remarkable sacrifices that migrants make for the success of their children in host countries. This is what Elham calls the “Migrant Formula”. Empowered with a passion to help young migrants, Elham launched the Migrant Leaders charity in 2017. Six years on, the charity supports almost 2000 young people from disadvantaged backgrounds on its development programme offering mentoring, workshops, work experiences and connections. In six years, she has met with countless executives, recruiting them as mentors for the charity, and formed many corporate partnerships across FTSE100 and leading firms. In April 2024 Elham launched the Migrant Leaders mobile app with her team, transforming the mentoring experience and heading the charity towards supporting 5000 young people on the Migrant Leaders programme. Her aim is to increase workplace diversity, inclusivity and social mobility in the UK. In 2023 Elham had the honour of being selected as a Coronation Champion and has launched her book “Migrant Magic” in 2024.