After Kent - Diversity and Inclusion Consultant, Yani King

“My best friend asked me once “what was my politics?”, and I replied with racial equality”.

By studying Politics and International Relations, Yani King gained the skills essential to their career now. Yani’s role as a Diversity and Inclusion Consultant involves working with clients from different sectors – marketing, tech, charities, and finance to support them with their diversity and inclusion practises. Every day is different, exciting, and varied.

What course did you study at Kent? What attracted you to the course?

I studied Politics and International Relations with a year in Japan. I knew I wanted to study International Relations as it combined subjects that I was interested in. I was also studying A-Level Japanese at sixth form and wanted to carry it on. Kent was one of a handful of Universities that had the option to study in Japan!

What are you doing now?

I am now a Diversity & Inclusion Consultant. I support organisations in their diversity and inclusion (D&I) journey by providing advice and understanding on how to create diversity and develop inclusion practices where everyone can be themselves.

How did studying International Politics prepare you for your current position?

I thank my degree a lot for giving me the skills that are essential in my job! As a consultant, I write analytical reports and look at documents to critically analyse them through different lenses. In my case, through the lens of different protected characteristics. My experiences in Japan have also helped in understanding international business culture, which you wouldn’t be able to fully understand from a textbook.

Could you describe a typical day in your current role?

My role does not have a typical day! It keeps it exciting! One day I would be meeting clients to talk through their current practices, the next I would be delivering a workshop and the next analysing and writing reviews. On the occasion, I also get asked to film tiktoks and record podcasts!

What do you love most about your role?

I love that on each project I get to learn something new! I work with a wide variety of clients from different sectors, from marketing, tech, charities, finance etc. and I get to step into different worlds. Each sector has its unique challenges. It requires me to think creatively, bringing my insight from my experience and the world I have dipped into, to overcome barriers.

What steps did you take to get into your current role? 

I had no idea what I wanted to do. But that’s okay, most of us leave uni unsure of what we wanted to do! I thought to myself, you’ll spend most of your time at work, might as well do something you enjoy. At Uni, I was active in societies, so I decided to find a role within student unions.

In the various roles, I held at SU’s I noticed a theme. I kept volunteering for projects that were based on supporting and raising awareness of minoritized communities. I also became a Co-Chair of a BAME staff network at Imperial College London, to create a sense of community, raise the voice of minoritized staff, and develop equality.

The pandemic hit and unfortunately, I was made redundant. But gave me a lot of time to think. I looked at everything that I was passionate about and I decided that I wanted to have a career in D&I and actively looked for D&I roles. Not many people were hiring at this time, so it was tough trying to find a role. I wanted to give up so many times, and take roles that would just get me a job. But I kept on going. 3 months and over 30 job applications later, I landed my first full-time D&I role at the General Optical Council, which looked at my skills and experience, not just my job titles, and offered me the position of EDI Partner.

At the beginning of this year, I took on my next challenge as a D&I Consultant, which combines my lived experience, passions, volunteering and learnings from working in an HR role.

I said I had no idea what I wanted to do, but the whole time it was staring me in the face, but I didn’t quite realise it. My personal statement for my university application referenced wanting to understand and make sense of power and inequalities in the world. My best friend asked me once “what was my politics?”, and I replied with racial equality. Finally, in my career, I kept volunteering for projects that developed equality. Reflecting on it now, it is pretty clear that I always what I wanted to do.

What employability support did you get from the University?

I took part in employability points, but I never realised the benefit of it until now. The scheme asked you to reflect on your skills from your activities and volunteering. Now I see it. The scheme was teaching me to reflect, much like a cover letter for a job.

What skills did you gain at the University, not just from your course that you use now in your career?

I was very active in student societies and that gave me skills that I use in my career. From being a committee member and presenting in seminars, I learnt how to speak in front of people, engage audiences and listen to people.

What advice would you give to somebody thinking of coming to Kent?

Get out of your comfort zone! If I hadn’t pushed myself, I would have never joined a society and made lifelong friendships.

What’s your best memory of studying at Kent?

Swinging doughnuts from a piece of string in front of the Gulb for people to catch with only their mouths, as part of Japan Society’s induction campus stamp rally. That or my year abroad, but that has a lot more than one memory.

Yani King graduated from studying Politics and International Relations with a Year in Japan in 2017.

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