WeAreTheCity’s Rising Star Awards are now in their tenth year.
The Rising Star Awards are the first to focus on the achievements of women below Senior Management or Director level – representing the female talent pipeline and the next generation of future leaders.
In this ongoing series, we speak to our winners about life after winning a Rising Star award.
We spoke to Rupali Sharma-Patel, who won a Rising Star Award in Infrastructure, in 2022.
Rupali is an award-winning Senior Leader with over two decades of experience in high-profile Built Environment and Digital transformation projects. Currently heading London Assisted Transport Services, she strategically develops initiatives for improving accessibility for older and disabled Londoner’s. A dedicated advocate for inclusion, Rupali utilises all platforms to champion minority groups, making her a prominent role model in creating diverse and equitable environments.
How did winning a Rising Star award influence your perception of your own achievements and potential?
Before winning the Rising Star award, I had established myself as a credible and trustworthy leader in my profession and sector. However, the award has served as a powerful showcase, bringing my capabilities, passions, and values to the attention of stakeholders beyond my industry. This recognition has not only boosted my confidence in my personal and professional achievements but has also opened doors to new opportunities and expanded my influence in a broader professional landscape.
Have there been specific opportunities or doors that opened for you as a result of receiving the award?
Being honored with the Rising Star Award granted me access to a Warwick Business School Knowledge Day event and a Chartered Management Institute Membership. These opportunities have helped me to expand my horizons and I made the decision to pursue an Executive MBA from Warwick Business School.
In my ongoing career development, I am eager to collaborate further with We are the City and Warwick Business School. My aim is to advance the representation of women in the fields of Built Environment, Transportation, and Real Estate.
please do not shy away or worry about failure; instead, view it as a stepping stone toward greater success. Every setback is a learning opportunity that propels you forward on the path to professional growth and achievement.
How has winning the award affected your professional network and relationships within your industry?
The WeAreTheCity network has given me an opportunity to expand my network and outside my industry. In addition, I have had the opportunity to meet and hear stories of exceptionally remarkable women with varied intersectional identities, who are working tirelessly to instigate change for future generations.
The recognition has also given me the motivation to overcome barriers such as microaggression to progress my career and become a more vocal advocate for women with intersectional identities. For instance, I was recently invited to participate in the Women in Transport, South Asian Heritage month podcast, which highlighted the challenges women with Asian heritage face within he Transport sector.
Have you had the chance to mentor or inspire others based on your experience?
In my professional journey, I’ve consistently seized opportunities to support junior staff members, offering professional mentoring for Chartership and encouraging school students to join the Transport and Built Environment sectors through STEM events, talks and design workshops. More recently, I ‘am providing mentorship to senior women leaders in programs like Women in Architecture and Build by Us. Additionally, I continue to support and champion younger women within my organization.
As a Steering Group member for the recently established Women in Bus and Coach initiative, I actively contribute to the goal of enhancing women’s representation in the industry.
What advice would you give to someone else thinking of nominating themselves or others for the awards?
I would strongly encourage my women colleagues to never doubt your abilities and achievements, although women are socially conditioned to not seek the spotlight, I would urge you to step forward and nominate yourself or other remarkable peers for awards.
The awards offer you an opportunity to join an incredible network which is dedicated to supporting, championing, and connecting women across diverse industries. If you aspire to advance and attain remarkable success in your career, seizing this opportunity is non-negotiable.
Having active cheerleaders who encourage you to be your best will make you feel less isolated and help overcome personal and professional barriers.
What advice do you have for individuals aspiring to achieve success in their careers?
Embrace self-belief and confidence in your abilities as this is paramount to your journey. Seek out mentors and sponsors who genuinely support your career development and can help your career development at your terms. Also please do not shy away or worry about failure; instead, view it as a stepping stone toward greater success. Every setback is a learning opportunity that propels you forward on the path to professional growth and achievement.
What is next for you?
We are currently confronting numerous societal and environmental challenges. The industry not only needs to earnestly embrace change to reduce carbon emissions but also must strive to be appealing and engaging to attract and retain a diverse pool of talent. Throughout my professional journey, I’ve had the privilege of significantly impacting individuals, communities, and cities through the design and delivery of safe, accessible, and reliable infrastructure. Additionally, I have initiated programs to attract, retain, and diversify talent within the Built Environment
However, the pace of change needs to be accelerated, as a creative and innovative senior leader I recognise the interdependencies of diverse thinking, problem solving and team leadership on environmental and social outcomes and I am keen to develop my career to deliver a transformative impact for future generations.
The current initiatives to improve access to workplace and support for women of color in employment are not yielding significant benefits. In the transportation and built environment sectors specifically, representation of protected groups at leadership remain low and therefore collective experience of large sections of community and society is not considered in decision making. I am fully aware of the importance of being an active and visible role model, I will continue all platforms to champion diversity and inclusion and increase my efforts to attract and retain talent into the industry.