Lunch with a Leader

Do you have questions you would like to ask of leaders in business, society, technology or charity?

A group of students at lunchOur ‘Lunch with a Leader’ sessions invite small groups of students to sit down and quiz some of the University of Birmingham’s most successful alumni who have gone on to lead, influence and shape a range of different organisations.

The opportunity is open to students of all disciplines and all years and levels of study

More sessions will be advertised throughout the year, so please check back regularly for details of upcoming 'Lunch with a Leader' events.

For each session you are interested in, please email the organisers with the following information:

  • Your name, course and year of study. 

  • Tell us why (in no more than 100 words) you would like the opportunity to sit down with the leader. 

  • Share two questions that you would like to ask them over lunch. 

Individual dates to submit your interest for each leader are shown in their profiles below. Eight students will be selected to take part in each session.

To find out more about each leader and session, follow the links below.

Wednesday 24 January
Fouzia Younis MBE - UK Consul General in Toronto

Fouzia YounisBritain's first Muslim woman appointed as a head of a Diplomatic post as the UK's Consul General in Toronto covering Ontario and the Maritime provinces, Fouzia is a senior British diplomat with strong leadership, communication, and people skills, including significant experience of building international relationships in the Middle East and South Asia; and managing, coaching and developing multi-cultural and diverse teams.

Fouzia leads a strong team of around 40 staff at the Consulate-General in Toronto covering a broad range of political and policy work including on climate, trade and tech, as well as providing support to British nationals and companies. Fouzia has had diplomatic postings to Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and has served across the GCC. She has worked across political and economic affairs, bilateral trade and investment, as a Government spokesperson, and on the Government response to crises.

In addition to these postings, Fouzia has worked on major FCDO change programmes and served on secondment to the Cabinet Office and No10 Downing Street. She is a passionate advocate on diversity and inclusion and won awards for her work leading the FCDO's Race Network; and was honoured by His Majesty King Charles III for her services to foreign policy in 2023.

Hailing from Stourbridge in the UK and is an alumna of University of Cambridge and University of Birmingham.

Fouzia's areas of expertise and interest include: politics, economics, diversity and inclusion, foreign policy, internationla relations, team building

Please submit your interest and questions for Fouzia by : Thursday 18 January

Wednesday 7 February
Jagvinder Singh Kang - Partner, International & UK Head of IT Law, Mills & Reeve

Jagvindjagvinder singh kanger graduated from the University of Birmingham's Computer Science and Software Engineering programme in 1994, and then studied the Graduate Diploma in Legal Studies (GDL) at Birmingham Law School in 1995.

He is an award winning and market leading UK technology lawyer. He is featured in Legal 500's official ‘Hall of Fame’ - which Legal 500 confirms: “highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession.” He has been recognised for over a decade in Legal 500’s 'Elite List of Outstanding Technology Lawyers Nationwide'. He is also currently ranked number one for technology law in the UK by the world’s leading legal directories, Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners. This top UK position is one which he has held for every consecutive year for well over a decade. He specialises in IT, Data Protection and Cyber law, and he is currently the International & UK Head of IT Law at leading national law firm, Mills & Reeve.

In his Lunch with a Leader session, Jagvinder would like to share the message “Don’t be Average…Be Exceptional!”

Jagvinder's areas of expertise and interest include: the importance of a growth mindset and passion for learning, the benefits of having a diverse skill set, networks and mentoring, the importance of focus and a career plan, law, cyber, data protection, technology.

Please submit your interest and questions for Jagvinder by: Wednesday 31 January

Tuesday 27 February
Fazeela Gopalani - Head of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, Middle East.

Please note: This session is for students at the Uob Dubai campus.Fazeela Gopalani

As Head of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) in the Middle East, Fazeela is responsible for leading the operations in 11 countries and representing more than 20,000 students, affiliates, and members across the region, who work in all sectors and all levels of business across the Middle East. She is committed to the development of a strong global accountancy profession and believes passionately in the benefits that it brings to society and individuals.

Fazeela is an FCCA member and has more than 20 years of experience in accounting and finance. A resident of the United Arab Emirates for more than 15 years, Gopalani has contributed her expertise to several of the country’s key government agendas in her capacity as a leader, supporting the advancement of accountancy professionals in the region. She is behind several ground-breaking industry initiatives, including Women in Finance, which seeks to empower more women into accountancy at every stage of their career.

Her recent accolades include being named one of the 100 Most Powerful Businesswomen 2023 by Forbes Middle East, Inspirational Woman Leader 2023 Award by, Top 35 Women of Influence in the Arab World 2021 by CEO Middle East magazine, and winning Asia One’s Women Empowerment Award 20/21.

Fazeela holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Birmingham and an MBA from the University of Strathclyde. She was previously Head of Education for ACCA in the Middle East and Senior Manager at PwC in Dubai. Prior to moving to the UAE, Fazeela owned and ran an accounting practice in the UK. 

Fazeela's's areas of expertise and interest include: Future of accounting and finance, impact of technology on the accounting profession, strategy development and implementation, business development, partnership development and cultivation, and leadership.

Please submit your interest and questions for Fazeela by: Friday 23 February

Previous Leaders who have taken part in Lunch with a Leader sessions include:

  • Charlotte Hill, CEO, The Felix Project
  • Rob Sherwin, VP Corporate Relations, Shell
  • Jeannyfar Gelpcke, Senior Executive Advisor to CEO, E.ON
  • Bryan Lillie, Strategic Technical Lead, Cyber Security Council