I’m Nahida Ahmed, an area operations manager at the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). As an Asian woman, my life challenges started earlier than most.
Having spent my early years trying to grow up in a western society with parents still trapped in the eastern cultures, I encountered extreme difficulties in understanding what my values were. as an Asian woman during my early teens I was in constant battles with my family against agreeing to a forced marriage.
At the age of 17, following my dad’s health problems, I was forced to leave education to be the main earner to support my parents and five siblings. I was always academically bright and aspired to go to university and have an amazing career and not being able to do this made me extremely depressed. When I reached 21 I was tired of all the fighting, looking for an escape route, I agreed to an arranged marriage to someone I had never met.
I was fortunate enough that my husband was very supportive and we are still together after 23 years. The next 16 years I spent bringing up my children and fighting with my parents to make sure that all my siblings got a good education and married the persons of their choice.
Then in October 2010, I joined the Civil Service as a driving examiner. Finally I saw an opportunity to develop my career and fulfil my aspirations. But in June 2011 my 12 year old daughter got diagnosed with Leukaemia.
The next 2 years were probably the hardest of my life. DVSA were very supportive and my colleagues amazing. In March 2013, despite complications in my home life, I decided that I needed something positive in my life and was successful in being selected to attend the Civil Service Local East Midlands Academy.
Since then I’ve been proactive in seeking every opportunity I could to develop myself. I was approached by Gillian Smith, Head of Civil Service Fast Stream, and she offered to coach me. She worked relentlessly with me to help me overcome the bitterness I had towards life and to understand my achievements.
During the course of the last year I have networked and requested guidance from very senior civil servants across many government departments. It soon became apparent to me that everyone seemed to have faith in my abilities except me.
Late last year I applied for an area operations manager position. All of my hard work paid off when I was told that I’d been successful. I’m overwhelmed by the support and love my new post. It’s been a steep learning curve but I’m really enjoying my new role and I’m determined to excel.
My daughter’s illness is steady. I wake up every day grateful that she is still a part of my life. My son is almost 21 and studying Pharmacy at University hoping to research drugs to cure cancer.
But why stop here? I don’t know what life has in store for me in the future but I am a stronger person because of what it has thrown my way so far. That strength gives me the determination to move forward positively in both my personal and work life.
If you’re interested in working for DVSA, they’re looking for the next generation of driving examiners in locations around the country click here!
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