I joined Filton Technical College, where I met my first mentor – Stan, my economics teacher. Stan didn’t just teach, he inspired. When all the voices around me were saying there was no point applying to university, that people like me didn’t go into higher education, Stan was writing me references. He supported me and encouraged me enough to make me believe in myself, giving me the confidence to apply and succeed. Thanks to Stan, when I was 18 I packed my bags and headed off to university, the first Javid to ever do so.
I loved Exeter University. I studied hard, made lifelong friends, had fun, and learned more about myself and about the world. I became fascinated by international finance and after three years I began to think about what I wanted to do next. I decided I wanted to go to London and work for one of the big City banks. Once again, the naysayers resurfaced – people like me didn’t work in the Square Mile. So I ignored them and applied to all 5 of the major British merchant banks. I was rejected by every single one. My interview at Rothschilds was particularly eye-opening. I walked into the room, and was faced with a panel of 7 old, white men in pin stripe suits, the living, breathing embodiment of the old boys’ network! One of the first questions they asked – after whether I’d gone to a private or state school – was what my father did for a living. I told them that he used to drive a bus, and now he runs a shop selling women’s clothes. The panel’s horror was palpable, and it was at that point I realised I probably wasn’t going to get the job!
Fortunately there were some more enlightened minds around, and I got a job with Chase Manhattan on Wall Street. It was a brilliant place to work, mostly because of my boss, an American woman named Cindy. Cindy was my second mentor. She showed me the ropes and she invested a huge amount of time in my career. When people ask how I got to be a vice-president of Chase Manhattan at the age of 25, I can answer with 3 words: “Because of Cindy”.
I have my dad to thank for my lifelong love of politics. In 2005 I decided to switch careers; I wanted to become a Conservative MP. Predictably the cynics returned to tell me that people like me didn’t get selected and that there was no way that the Conservatives would select a Muslim MP. Thankfully I ignored their words of warning and I found a great association in brilliant constituency. In May 2010 I had the honour of becoming the Member of Parliament for Bromsgrove.
Once elected I received the accepted wisdom for new MPs, to keep my head down and park any thoughts of promotion until a good few years on the backbenches had passed. The usual suspects were also there once again, warning that people like me shouldn’t be too ambitious. David Cameron saw things differently, he gave me my first real break in Government appointing me as the Chancellor’s Parliamentary Private Secretary in 2011. One year later I joined the Treasury ministerial team where I stayed until I joined the Cabinet in 2014, first as Culture Secretary, then as Business Secretary. I began my role as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in 2016 and in January 2018, was appointed as the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. This name change embodies the Government’s renewed focus on building more homes, and our commitment to strong, diverse and tolerant communities across England.
I can honestly say that if I hadn’t stumbled across Stan, Cindy and other mentors when I did, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I am absolutely committed to making sure that the next generation don’t have to rely on being that lucky. I’d urge everyone across the country, whatever their politics, to play their part in making the UK a fairer, even more successful place. The UK is the best country on earth, and its young people deserve no less.
Sajid Javid MP was appointed Home Secretary on 30 April 2018.
He was Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government from 8 January 2018 to 29 April 2018, and Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government from July 2016 to January 2018. Sajid is also Ministerial Champion for the Midlands Engine.
Sajid served as Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills from May 2015 until July 2016. He was Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport from April 2014 to May 2015 and previously he was both the Economic and Financial Secretary to the Treasury. He was a member of the Work and Pensions Select Committee from June to November 2010. He was elected Conservative MP for Bromsgrove in 2010.