Funke is a practising solicitor and currently Managing Counsel at Roche UK, leading the legal team supporting Roche’s pharmaceutical operations in the UK, Ireland, Malta and Gibraltar. She is also Data Protection Officer for the UK. Her career began in private practice before moving in-house. Funke undertakes a lot of work to support diversity & inclusion in society as a whole and within the legal profession in particular. An award winning lawyer and diversity champion, she was most recently a finalist for ‘Diversity Champion of the Year’ at the inaugural 2015 Excellence in Diversity Awards and won the ‘Career Woman of the Year’ award at the 2015 Women4Africa awards.
What are the components of your portfolio career e.g. study, paid freelance work, part time job, volunteering etc.)?
I have a full time job as a lawyer leading the UK & Ireland legal team for a large pharmaceutical company. In addition, I hold a number of voluntary roles within diversity and education. I am also a regular speaker at various conferences and to students both at school and at University.
How did your portfolio career come about?
My portfolio career came about out of a genuine desire to make a positive difference within the legal community and my local community. I was particularly frustrated by the ongoing diversity issues in the legal profession and once I realised that I was in a position to make a positive impact in this area, I decided to devote more and more of my spare time to diversity initiatives.
How has your portfolio career changed over time?
Because of the limitations on my spare time (I am a working mother), I have had to re-prioritise this year. For example, this meant resigning as a school governor simply because I did not have enough time to do that together with other schools-related work and my diversity work and speaking engagements.
When people ask you ‘what do you do?’ – what do you reply?
I tell them that I wear many hats! I often reply by saying I am a lawyer, leader, diversity champion, mentor and very proud mother.
To what extent did your portfolio career happen by chance/luck and to what extent was it planned?
It certainly was not planned but came about by chance as various opportunities to make impactful changes came up. I was approached about specific diversity initiatives, for example, and things have snowballed from there. Also, the school governor role came about due to a genuine need to get involved in the school’s development at the time.
What do you most love about having a portfolio career?
The ability to meet people that I would not have met otherwise; also the chance to broaden my experiences and change my perspective. I have been able to apply some of the new skills learnt from my voluntary work into my work as a lawyer/leader and this has made the experience all the more rewarding.
This was the first part of a two part guest blog by Funke Abimbola for Energise LLClub.
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Funke moved from private practice to an in-house role. Did you know that The Law Society (all divisions) are having a Changing career direction event on 20 October (evening)? Save the date. See link for details: