North Highland Charity of the Year – A Story About an upReach Alumnus

Jamal is an active member of the upReach Alumni community. He graduated with a Masters in Chemical Engineering from The University of Manchester in 2017 and, with the help of upReach, secured a place beginning in September last year as an Analyst for North Highland, a management consultancy. Jamal was integral to upReach being selected as North Highland’s Charity of the Year. I caught up with him to find out more.

I’m greeted by Jamal in North Highland’s swanky office in Holborn and before I’ve had a chance to sit down he has repeated the line, “I honestly don’t know where I’d be without upReach” several times. It is clear that this is a cause close to his heart. Jamal became an upReach Associate in his penultimate year of university, at the time a little unsure of his career options and interests. Working with his Programme Coordinator, Jamal was able to strengthen his employability prospects and decide on consultancy as he “loves solving problems” and “using analytical techniques to give a fresh take on processes and make them work better”.

His Programme Coordinator at the time recommended Jamal look into North Highland, (an upReach partner since 2016/17) and he was inspired to apply after attending an insight day that they led exclusively for upReach Associates. Once decided, he was supported by upReach who in his own words “helped me showcase my skills in the best way possible during the job application process and, in so doing allowed me to realise my potential”. The hard work paid off and Jamal was offered a place on their highly sought after graduate scheme.

One of the first projects Jamal worked on in his new role was for North Highland’s previous Charity of the Year, Streets of Growth. Jamal was part of a small team providing Streets of Growth with pro bono consulting services and reviewing their ways of working. The smile on his face as he explains this indicates this is something that he enjoyed massively and, in fact, CSR is something he has remained interested in and actively involved with, not least by supporting the team in deciding North Highland’s next Charity of the Year. Realising the immediate value that the partnership can deliver, Jamal suggested for upReach to be shortlisted. Jamal justified his suggestion through highlighting how upReach enables North Highland’s philanthropic strategy of ‘economic empowerment’ and stating, “I’m a direct product of upReach, without their support I probably wouldn’t be here today.”

The team subsequently undertook an independent review of the long list of charities and Jamal was “delighted upReach made the top 6 shortlist.” The shortlisted charities were invited for interview and a case for each charity was drafted for the North Highland London office to vote on. Although a little apprehensive of advertising that he was a former upReach Associate and hence his background, the positive response he received means he “now openly wears upReach as a badge of pride.” Jamal focussed on the fact that upReach had a clear plan and aim but, was reliant upon building partnerships to succeed and put it to North Highland, that with help to build these partnerships, upReach could grow even further to help more students and directly tackle the UK’s social mobility problems.

The final decision was made at a North Highland Action Day. A secret ballot of all North Highland consultants was conducted and, upReach was announced as the clear choice, something Jamal was “obviously over the moon about.”

We are now just over halfway through the year and upReach have already benefited from three sprints where North Highland consultants have reviewed areas of strategic importance for upReach and recommended the best ways to proceed. North Highland have also hosted an inspiring Day of Giving Back where 50 Associates worked with 80 Consultants on issues important to upReach and also directly raised money for upReach by a hosting talent show and other activities.

As we finish our meeting Jamal professes that everyone he spoke to about upReach was fascinated about the work we do and supportive of it – “I would recommend all Alumni to speak to their employers about upReach and the important work they do – you never know, a potential partnership or other vital support may result from it.”

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