On Wednesday 11th October, we are launching the latest round of our New Scots Leadership programme!

We coordinate the programme in partnership with Social Enterprise Academy. 16 leaders from refugee backgrounds will come together twice a month to develop strategic leadership skills and be encouraged to put them to good use within their communities in Scotland.

Mohammed is a graduate of last year’s leadership programme. This is his story.

Mohammed is an engineer from Sudan, who arrived in Scotland in March 2022.

He found out about the New Scots Leadership programme from a friend at Maryhill Integration Network.

Honestly, when he advised me to enrol in the programme, I thought it was somewhere I could make some friends or spend time as I wasn’t working, because I wasn’t allowed to work at that time, based on the [right to work] regulation. So, I didn’t come with big hopes about the programme. But when I talked to [my fellow leaders] on the first day, I told them I have a goal. To do this goal, I should do whatever it takes.

During the programme itself, honestly, I enjoyed the journey.

After the Leadership programme concluded, the group had the opportunity to connect with Scottish Government employees for a three-month mentorship programme.

She guided me well, and she advised me to visit some places. Getting somebody talk to you from a professional side is different. Whenever I met her, I enjoyed the discussion. It’s been fully about what’s going on, what things I would love to do in the future, which is related to sustainability and renewable energies.

He was partnered with a mentor who works in sustainable and renewable energy. They are still in touch even after the project has ended.

I don’t know about the others, but myself, I enjoyed it. It’s not about the certificate at all. But the program itself, it’s truly valuable to me. Even today I have talked to Karen. I told her I’ve been engaged with many employers right now.

This partnership has led to Mohammed connecting with industry experts in civil engineering and sustainable energy, and getting interviews for work.

I have more than 15 years in experience in this field, but I’m new here, so I need somebody to guide me. Right now, as I said, I’m more confident. I really have more connections. I can help others right now.

During the journey, you will find a lot of doors are open. You will find many places you can visit for myself. As I said I’m from an engineering background, so I have visited Mott MacDonald [the civil engineering firm], I have sat with the sustainability director, engaged with them. He connected me with Scottish Power, I have been connected with WorleyParsons/Jacobs.

They didn’t offer a position, but at least I have gathered enough information about what’s necessary to get a job here from my field. How you can approach an interview; what people expect from you, from a technical side, from habits, as a leader, as a management approach.

I’ve done many interviews now, I’m more confident than I was when I started the program. And I can say that it’s not just by talk, it’s by action. I’ve gained friends in the sustainability field in Edinburgh and also in Glasgow, two or three organisations have been invited and I have seen and met them.

Honestly, if I didn’t enrol in this program, I would not be at this point. Maybe I would reach my goals, but it would be harder. If you don’t get somebody guiding you or somebody helping you. I want to be engaged with the community, I want to know what is required to get a job because I’m an experienced guy.

Mohammed has also recently received good news from University of Glasgow.

One of my colleagues from the programme, Mohammed, advised me to apply for a scholarship with the Glasgow University. I think he’s just finished his Masters in Linguistics. I haven’t been selected in this scholarship for, uh, for Asylum Seeker and Refugee. But I found a way to contact the MBA programme recruitment manager and I have given him a statement about my situation and the things last year and why I need this program and what I’m going to do in a future for this country through this programme. In July, I’ve been granted the MBA scholarship from the business school itself.

All this great news or benefits I have gained has came from doing this programme, whether it’s directly or indirectly. This programme has opened my eyes for the situation on the life here in Glasgow. So I’m really grateful for this program. I’m really happy with the friendships I got with everyone.

In September 2023, Mohammed received an enticing job offer.

However, he made the exciting choice to pursue his MBA program first. His plan? To reach out to the employer once he completes his studies, ensuring that he not only can secure the job now but also bring a newfound confidence, armed with MBA skills, to his future career.

Mohammed has been helping us, and Social Enterprise Academy, with the recruitment of the latest cohort of the New Scots Leadership Programme. The course will begin on Wednesday 11th October.

Congratulations on all your successes, Mohammed. We can’t wait to hear what you get up to next!


Image: Open Aye

Chris Afuakwah
Author: Chris Afuakwah