Specialist graduate careers guidance and employment adviser for refugee professionals in London. Over 15 years' experience of developing and running placement and employment support initiatives to assist refugee professionals back into their professional working lives, including accountants, architects, engineers, HR professionals, lawyers, scientists and statisticians. Founded Transitions in 2010 as a specialist social enterprise in London to deliver services to good employers and to highly skilled refugees who have been offered a place of safety in the UK and have a right to contribute to UK economy and society.
Justin has been working in the IAG sector for over 10 years starting off at London Metropolitan University’s refugee unit (RAGU). After leaving RAGU he went on to work with long-term unemployed and disadvantaged groups where he gained his NVQ4 in Advice & Guidance in 2008. Since then Justin has worked with families and hard to reach groups in East London and is currently working as an employment adviser for a large housing association. Outside of his 9-5 job, Justin has been Vice President of the Career Development Institute, the single UK-wide professional organisation for careers information, advice and guidance, career coaching and career consultancy professionals. http://www.thecdi.net/Home
Martin James | Financial Controls & Planning Director
Martin is a qualified member of the Association of Accounting Technicians and currently undertaking the Chartered Institute of Management Accountant (CIMA) course. Martin has over 12 years professional work experience working for NGO’s, public, voluntary and private sector organisations. He has extensive technical and analytical skills in managing donor grants, project finance & budget management, grant & contract compliances. He has been involved in developing and managing financial management and accounting control systems for various organisations. At present he is employed as a Project Accountant with BBC Media Action, prior to this he worked for Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) as an Assistant Management Accountant. He also has experience of working with refugees and asylum seekers from his time at the London Metropolitan University where he worked for Refugee Assessment and Guidance Unit (RAGU) for over 4 years.
Penny Davis | Recruitment Services Director
Penny is an experienced Board HR and Change Director and joined Transitions in January 2017. She has held a number of senior executive roles across a range of sectors including Balfour Beatty, Sir Robert Mc Alpine and T Mobile. She now works as an independent HR Consultant. Penny’s practical experience is balanced with her academic background in Occupational Psychology/Organisational Behaviour.
In addition to this, Penny has contributed to a number of books and articles on strategic HR, resourcing, employee motivation and HR Service delivery. For a number of years Penny was a volunteer with the Simon Community, working with London’s homeless.
Passion for developing people and enabling their careers. Outside work – learning how to box
Jon Hull | Recruitment Services Director
I am delighted to join the Board of Transitions. Transitions does great work in helping employability amongst hugely a disadvantaged group in the UK. These individuals have an abundance of skills that if used can help them individually and the wider UK economy.
I have worked in the Recruitment industry for over 20 years for large corporate organisations and smaller ventures. I hope my experience, knowledge and passion for creating fairness in employment will help Transistions go from strength to strength.
Vicky Johnson | Careers Adviser
Vicky joined Transitions in 2015 as a part-time Employment Support Consultant. She has worked in the careers sector for over 12 years and has supported adults from a variety of backgrounds, including refugees, into education and employment. Vicky has the Level 6 Diploma in Careers Guidance and is a member of the Career Development Institute.
Sheila Heard | Careers Adviser
Please see above.
Michael Rogers | Engineering Skills Assessment Consultant
Mike is a Chartered Geologist and a Chartered Civil Engineer with nearly thirty years of industrial and professional membership experience. Mike has been able to support companies and individuals (both in the UK and Internationally) as they seek to maximise their training and development potential. Whilst at the ICE Mike took responsibility for the international membership development for countries other than Hong Kong and the UK with a focus on conversion of eligible candidates to professional membership. Since setting up CMNA in 2015, Mike has worked with the United Nations, consultants and contractors in regards to the effective operation of their training programmes - the emphasis being on seeking to support candidates as they seek to demonstrate their competencies to be come professionally qualified. Working with Transitions on the Big Lottery Funded Programme, Mike is seeking to review the experience of refugee engineers and allow them to benchmark this against the UK competency standard for registration. Through workshops, discussions and feedback on reports drafted, Mike aims to support these engineers as they embark on a six month programme to evaluate their skills and competencies in the UK engineering market.
Sanjay Aggarwal is an experienced executive search and recruitment consultant with over 8 years of experience. Having started work with specialist Finance & Accountancy consultancies in Birmingham & London, he setup his own consultancy Taylor Lloyd Mason which recruits various roles across multiple sectors. Sanjay is passionate about Social Enterprise and he has been supporting Transitions London, initially in providing a better understanding of the recruitment industry, but now also with assisting in recruitment campaigns for some of Transitions clients.
Outside of recruitment, Sanjay coaches young people who are entering the job market from schools and universities with advice on job search skills, CVs, applications and networking. He also supports young people in enterprise and entrepreneurship by offering 1-2-1 help but also through the Young Enterprise scheme where he is a volunteer Board Member.
Debra Ann Blisson | BSc (Hons), MBA, FIC, FRSA
Debra Blisson is a highly experienced and successful businesswoman with exceptional entrepreneurial expertise having started six businesses herself, some as social enterprises and some as for profit businesses. She remains a non-executive director for two of these businesses.
Debra has worked in the fields of economic development, women's enterprise strategy and policy, social enterprise and co-operative development, and as an advisor to small and medium sized enterprises. She has also written a number of articles and papers on enterprise development. She has been a women’s enterprise advisor to the UK government and has established a number of women’s enterprise support organisations, both in the UK and Europe. She has also worked extensively across Europe providing consultancy support to both public and private sector companies.
Until December 2011, Debra was the Director of Enterprise and Business Support for Advantage West Midlands, the Regional Development Agency for the West Midlands. Debra was responsible for enterprise and business support policy, with an annual budget of circa £70 million. She also chaired the regional working group for the allocation and delivery of Enterprise and Business Support funds for the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Whilst at AWM, Debra developed a range of policy initiatives providing strategic and practical support to women in business, minority ethnic businesses, youth enterprise and social enterprise.
Debra is currently studying for a PhD at Aston University.
Kevin Bowsher, QPM | Diversity & Inclusion Manager, Network Rail
Prior to joining Network Rail in October 2013, Kevin ran a consultancy business providing support to a number of, mainly, construction companies around their D & I practice. Between 2008 and 2011, during the construction of London 2012’s venues, Kevin was the lead for Equality and Inclusion for the Olympic Delivery Authority’s Delivery Partner. Kevin was responsible for managing the Business Assurance aspect of the ODA’s work around engaging with contractors around D & I activity, including the design, development and roll out of a Baseline Assessment, Equality Action Plan, Health Check, and Audit process. Kevin also hosted the contractors’ Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) meetings. Through this work, Kevin helped to raise over £300k to take local disabled children to Stoke Mandeville for sport based holidays.
Kevin was also previously a Diversity Manager with Amey Plc. Prior to this he served as a police officer for thirty years, primarily in community relations, developing strategic approaches to policing and diversity in London and across the UK. In the 2006 New Year’s Honours List, Kevin was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal for distinguished service for his work in relation to the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry and events that took place at Deepcut Barracks.
Sarajuddin Isar is a political economy professional with 12 years' of overseas experience in banking, finance and international development. Isar is a current PhD student at Department of Development Studies at School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. He studies the political economy of taxation and state-building with a particular focus on the neo-liberal model of state-building in the context of Afghanistan. Isar is also a part-time editor with Simorg Fortnightly, an Afghan newspaper, which is published by Afghans diaspora in London on a bi-weekly basis. He is a writer and debater on economics, politics and development policy issues. Isar has worked in key roles in a series of organizations including the Central Bank of Afghanistan, United States Agency for International Development/BearingPoint, United Nations World Food Programme and international charities such as the Catholic Relief Services, Acted, Afghanaid and Oxfam.
Ray Laws | BA (Hons) Business Management with Marketing
I have been assisting Transitions in a voluntary marketing consultancy role since May 2013. With Transitions I have advised on marketing strategy and also produced marketing collateral for the organisation, including leaflets and the Stakeholder Consultation 2013.
My skill set and expertise equips me to advise Transitions from a marketing perspective, I have also worked closely to uphold the values and mission of both Transitions and its candidates holistically. I'm keen to see Transitions grow and assist more professional refugees benefit from the great work that Transitions does.
Outside of my advisory role, I work within the digital marketing services including website design, desktop publishing and search engine optimisation.
I am a civil engineer working in the water sector and with experience in New Zealand and the UK. I became involved with Transitions when I realised that I had no idea what happens to all of the skilled engineers like me when they arrive in the UK as refugees. Since finding out more about the barriers that refugee engineers face in the UK I’m determined to do what I can to help Transitions’ engineering candidates.
I am passionate about corporate social responsibility and humanitarian assistance initiatives within the engineering sector, and I also work with other social enterprises such as Engineers Without Borders and RedR. I hope to use this and my knowledge of engineering associations and insight into the operations of engineering companies to assist Transitions’ outstanding candidates.
Experienced information and communications professional, with a range of information technology, design and people skills, particularly in the field of economic and social inclusion. He has years of accumulated knowledge and skills in IT and voluntary sector. He is currently serving an NHS Trust, expanding his clinical, management and leadership skills and is always looking for opportunities to learn new skills and knowledge.
Phoenix has also contributed on a BBC Radio programme and in a focus group for the preparation of a Channel 4 television programme.
Outside of his daily job Phoenix very much enjoy sports and the outdoors, particularly badminton, swimming and country walks.
Qualified in Careers Guidance, I have over 20 years experience working with refugees, including setting up Careers, Work placement and Employability training programmes for refugee professionals at RAGU, London Metropolitan University. Also experienced in working with UK employers, professional bodies and agencies in lobbying for refugee employment. I am continually inspired by the courage, dignity and motivation refugees demonstrate, their wish to fully contribute to the UK and be able to find a peaceful settlement.