Beyond Breakfast with Shazmin Shamsuddin – Lord Simon Woolley
From council estate to the House of Lords, to becoming the first black man to head an Oxbridge college, Lord Woolley details his life’s journey in his autobiography Soar
A fascinating read, Soar tells the story of Simon Woolley, a black boy who grew up in a council estate in the 1960s, a much loved foster son of white parents in one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Leicester. Hustling from an early age, this young man left school without A Levels, and went on to London to seek his fortune as so many young people did in those days and still do.
Despite being on the fast track to career success in sales, Woolley harboured an insecurity many who don’t have a tertiary education feel – that without a university education, he was somehow less than. It was on a business trip to Oxford and Cambridge, that he confronted that desire to further his education and abruptly left his stable job to become a full time mature student.
That sliding door moment resulted in a BA in Spanish and English Literature at Middlesex University and an MA in Hispanic Studies at Queen Mary University of London, which led to travel and educational experiences in South and Central America that ignited in him a desire to make changes in his own country where social and political justice are concerned.
He co-founded Operation Black Vote in 1996, which works with ethnic minorities in the UK to increase their understanding of civic society, participation in Parliament and public life, and to promote equality and human rights.
In this conversation, Lord Woolley discusses educational access and the importance of recognising and supporting marginalised potential, representational imbalances, transforming institutions, and nurturing individuals. We explore ethical ambition and social capitalism, doing business the right way – inclusively, representatively, and non exploitatively. Is this possible? He is optimistic that it is.
We discuss youth today in the gig economy, the dire need for political education in primary schools, understanding power, and relatably enough, the imposter syndrome we still feel when we are doing great things in whatever sphere of public and professional life.
source – The Vibes