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Josephine Okonkwo

Risk Management

Josephine Okonkwo - She/Her 

Risk Management


Which industry do you work in and what do you love about it?

I am a lawyer by trade and training but have been working within Financial Services for the last 15 years and currently work in risk management. I actually love my job as I’m very much a people person and it gives me the ability to interact with various people within the business. What I loathe is the fact that there is still so much progress to be made in terms of diversity in both the legal and financial services space.


How did you get into your job/industry? 

I have also wanted to be a lawyer, from a very young age I had a really strong sense of justice and wrongdoing, so I started learning law from A levels and progressed to University. However, my journey was by no means an easy or straightforward one. Being neurodiverse I struggled at school and was told that lawyers were excellent and because of my disability, it wouldn’t be possible for me to achieve my goal.  I got a 2:2 at university and legal graduates are expected to obtain at least a 2:1. 

The competition for training contracts is fierce and there is still so much bias in the industry. In addition, my father died when I was preparing to start law school so I was forced to drop out and work full time to fund my studies and support my family. I eventually did finish law school which I did part-time so I could continue to work full time. I got a job as a legal graduate with an IDB firm and progressed my career in house and was able to qualify via a non-traditional route.


Have you always wanted to work in your industry? Does it feel like a good 'fit' for you as a neurodivergent woman? 

Yes, I wanted to be a criminal lawyer, I had many plans to make right many legal wrongs and overturn miscarriages of justice. However, my lack of confidence in myself, the negative opinions of others and the challenges due to my financial circumstances made me pivot my plans. 

My job now is a great fit yes, but only because I have put the work in on myself in making it work. Part of my job is leading from a global perspective our Black employee network (called BEING) and being a representative of the Disability network, that alone has created a platform where I can share my story, experiences and guidance to those in the business where it will make a positive difference.


I can now see the strengths in my neurodiversity, I feel that knowing who I am making the job work for me, I now very much enjoy it. It's not, however, without its challenges, but I feel more equipped in dealing with them and am on a continuous journey to keep learning.  


Do you think being Black, female and neurodivergent makes a difference?

OMG, absolutely!! I’ve learnt that it's a wonderful difference which I am now very proud of. 


One of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t educate myself and find my strength in my differences years ago. It would have saved me from many years of self-loathing and being disappointed with myself for being what I am. It has, however, made me resilient and very much determined to help others (especially young Black people) to love and embrace their uniqueness and to see it from a different perspective which is normally a negative one.


Any anecdotes that you feel might be insightful?

I am very much guilty of being that person that just saw their neurodiverse conditions as a negative. I was diagnosed when I was 17 and never read my report until almost 20 years later. Fear is an awful and terrible thing, I wish I had looked at it sooner and seen that the only thing I needed was a different perspective.



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