Bina Briggs is a successful businesswoman, an expert in HR and a volunteer for many projects and charities. Bina was born in Uganda to Indian parents.
In early August 1972, the president of Uganda, Idi Amin, ordered the expulsion of the country’s Asian population, giving them 90 days to leave. Bina and her family arrived in Luton in October 1972.
Bina started her career in telecommunications and IT with BT and, over the years, transitioned into HR. Bina enjoyed a long HR career at London Luton Airport, leaving in 2009 to set up her own HR Consultancy, Plain Talking HR. Bina’s business partner retired a few years ago, but she continues to build on their work, grow the business and encourage other women you are never too old to start a business as she founded the consultancy at 57.
In 2021, Bina was selected as one of the top 100 female entrepreneurs in the f:entrepreneur #ialso campaign.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
My life began in Uganda; born to Indian parents; we were a small family made up of my sister and me and my Mum and Dad. We enjoyed our life in the tropics, full of family, community, and education. It was a life of values, ethics, and standards. However, family life was of two halves; what happened in the home was not what was portrayed to the outside world.
In early August 1972, the President of Uganda, Idi Amin, ordered his country’s Asian minority’s expulsion, giving them 90 days to leave the country. This was terrifying, and we had to go. We left for the UK arriving in Luton on October 7th, 1972, a day I will never forget. We were lucky as we all spoke English. My mother spoke excellent English having been a teacher in Entebbe. This made the transition to life in the UK easier, but we had to adapt to British weather!
Not long after we arrived, my father left and went to India, leaving my Mum to raise my sister and me. We carved out a life for the three of us with determination to make it a success. I entered into a career firstly in IT then in HR which led me to starting my own business in 2009 Plain Talking HR, initially with a business colleague. Then I took over the business when she retired.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
Back in 1972 after being in the country for 6 weeks, I started a job as a junior data clerk in a company called Court Line at Luton Airport. After about 18 months in the company, I started my career in IT with BT and, over the years, worked my way up, educating myself to move towards a job in HR. This led me to my role in HR and a long career at London Luton Airport and then later starting my HR company.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
I think as an Asian Businesswoman you face challenges, and I was in my late fifties when I started my business. But I have learned to overcome them and press forwards with anything which comes my way. My passion is inspiring other women to start and grow a sustainable business, particularly Asian women and older women. Starting my business much later than most entrepreneurs, I feel that my story proves you are never too old to start a business. Age is not a barrier.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Being selected by the F:Entrpenreur #ialso100 campaign as one of the top 100 business women in the UK in 2020. Also passing my CIPD and my book reaching number one on Amazon on the day it was launched.
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
My belief system! I always think that no matter where you are in life, you will come through. I have a very positive mindset and never despair, I think you have to stay calm and work hard. You will be familiar with the phrase ‘ask, believe, receive’. Trust the process and things will work!
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
I am a great believer in giving back and do as much as I can to support others on their business journey. It’s vital to share your knowledge with others. I mentor students, women, colleagues and often people from my community groups.
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?
It’s about educating this generation and future generations. There are no barriers to what we can achieve, and our gender makes no difference to how successful we can be. More needs to be taught in schools that we are all equal. Gender Equality is important to me, so I am part of the steering group for Bedfordshire and Luton Community Foundation (BLCF). Their initiative is called Evolve for gender equality and I regularly advise on Employment/HR Law matters.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
Life is for living and my message for you is that the human spirit is unbreakable. We all have a choice to live a better life today than yesterday and tomorrow will be just as good as today, if not better.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
I have no plans to retire and will continue to build my business and serve my community. I help with as many community projects as I can, being a Governor at Luton Sixth form college, Trustee of Level Trust, Sixth Form Employers’ Advisory Board and Student Mentor sponsored internships. I also support the Navaratri Association, Luton Brahmin Association of Luton and the local Hindu temple. Being a volunteer is very rewarding and I encourage anyone to get involved in local charities and projects. We should all make an effort to give back as much as we can to support others.
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