Senior Vice President and General Counsel, World Bank.
When I was in primary school the teacher went around the room and asked everyone what they want to do when they grow up. I couldn’t wait for my turn, so when the teacher came to me and said “Sandie what do you want to do?”, I said I want to be a judge, I thought to myself now you have a sensible answer, she looked at me and said “little Black girls from Belham don’t become judges.” I did go on the path that could lead to that. It made me dig my heels in and say I am going to do it. I was born in South London, my dad was a teacher and my mum a nurse, my dad worked during the day, and my mom at night…. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth, it wasn’t as if I was a genius or anything. It is quite an ordinary story, and out of that I think I have done some groundbreaking things……. A big part for me was when I left my primary school where I had been told what I couldn’t do, and I went to my next school and it was all about what you could do. You may think you need some great life experience or some great big success to be able to help someone along the way, but that is not true, because you become a role model without being asked to be, so if it is just telling stories of how you did things, then say it, and you don’t know what people will draw from.
Quoted in Sandie Okoro’s rise to the top video (Life at HSBC)