Fizza is interviewed by Queen Mary alumni office about her experience as a student in London and her career inspirations.
Fizza is currently working as a corporate legal trainee lawyer for commercial and transactional practice in one of the biggest and renowned law firms in Pakistan. In the nearby future, she is looking forward to playing an active role in enhancing the quality and standard of legal practice in Pakistan! Read her interview below.
What course did you study at Queen Mary and what inspired you to study this course?
I studied for my Master of Laws LLM course in Commercial and Corporate Law. I was passionate about this course because I wanted to study a broad range of modules, which deal with issues that are highly relevant in today’s complex and dynamic corporate and commercial worlds. One thing that I find particularly attractive about this discipline is the fact that almost everyone experiences corporate and commercial law to a certain degree in their daily lives as it usually revolves around people and problem solving. It is also an area that is currently developing in leaps and bounds across the globe. For example, we have seen how Corporate Finance is an area of greatest divergence, where we observe substantial change over time. Countries initially left the key decisions over corporate capital and the placement of shares in the hands of shareholders. Moreover, a very significant development in commercial law in the recent age has been in respect of the protection of customers in credit transactions.
What were your favourite modules on your course and why? Did you encounter any topics that you had never come across before?
My favourite modules in the LLM course were Corporate Governance 1 & 2 taught by Professor Alan Dignam and International Banking Law taught by Professor George Alexander Walker. Both of these modules were extensively comprehensive and interesting to study and research. The modules were exceptionally well taught and we were encouraged to discuss more of our original and creative analysis which I really enjoyed. When I studied corporate governance 1 & 2, during my research, I came across topics of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Corporate Sustainability, which I had never studied before. These are highly relevant and emerging topics in the corporate world today, particularly when we discuss corporate accountability. This can be defined as the ability of those affected by a corporation to hold the corporations to account for their operations.
I understand that you are an international student, where is home for you?
Home for me is where I can have my mother’s delicious home cooked meals at any time of the day. Home for me is where I can have my dad’s blessings and mum’s prayers. A never-ending laugh with my siblings over the most silly and random things. Home is where my heart is. Home is Pakistan.
What was it like studying and living in a different country and what advice would you give to prospective students thinking of studying in another country?
Studying and living in London for my master’s degree was a completely different and life changing experience. The ability to step out of your comfort zone is the first step forward towards achieving greater things in life. And this is what I learnt while I lived here far away from my parents for almost a year; it taught me patience, resilience and tolerance. My time here also made me more mature and responsible as an individual and empowered me with the ability to analyse the experiences of life from different perspectives. And in general, to utilize the knowledge and skills that I gained here for the betterment of humanity in general. For prospective international students, thinking of studying here or in any other part of the world, embrace the opportunity to be overseas and be your real self. Most importantly, embrace the skill of learning from different cultures and be open to difference. The exposure and experiences that you gain here are going to be worthwhile, provided that you make good use of them.
What was your favourite thing about living in London? Did you explore lots whilst you were here?
The most interesting thing about living in London for me, was the fact that during my educational tenure, I came across people from all around the world, I made amazing long-lasting friendships and I had the opportunity to learn from and observe different cultures. Being an aspiring photographer, the number of places that I wanted to explore and visit were never ending. Among many of these beautiful sites, some of the places that I really adored visiting included the wonder that is Leadenhall Market, the historic Churchill War Rooms, Houses of Parliament, the Shard, the Phone Booth Book Exchange in Lewisham, the Curiosity Shop of Charles Dickens and the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel on Euston Road.
Travelling in London is fun and you can literally reach anywhere via tube which is so convenient. I love the little brick houses, towering churches, bright parks, the bridges over the Thames and the amazing food markets. In fact, if you are at CCLS, the Chicken Shop across Holborn Station is a must!
What have you been doing since graduation and what are your long-term plans?
I am currently working as a corporate legal trainee lawyer for commercial and transactional practice in one of the biggest and renowned law firms in Pakistan. In the nearby future, I look forward to playing an active role in enhancing the quality and standard of legal practice in Pakistan, whilst highlighting the ever-growing importance of effective utilisation of these laws for good governance and accountability in the region.
Huge congratulations on graduating last winter, what are your memories from this very special day? How did it feel to walk across the stage and receive your award?
It was a moment that I worked so hard for. Being able to finally walk across the stage in the beautiful surroundings of the People’s Palace and receive my master’s degree after days and nights of sheer determination and hard work, was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. It is an experience that I will continue to cherish. All praise to the Almighty Lord for this wonderful blessing and for enabling me to pursue and achieve my dreams. What seemed like an impossible task became a reality. More than anything, it would not have been possible without the support and love of my parents and siblings. I thank you with all my heart.
Why did you choose to study at Queen Mary?
The School of Law at Queen Mary University of London is one of the UK’s leading law schools. The Teaching faculty at the Centre for Commercial Law Studies (CCLS) consists of eminent and distinguished scholars in their respective fields, who push the boundaries for research and innovation. Queen Mary has a well-organized Students’ Union that oversees an impressive number of organizations, and I’m immensely grateful for the numerous amount of opportunities that there were to get involved with. Moreover, the University offered a course in my desired specialism of commercial and corporate law, which enabled me to enhance my skills in tackling a range of complex and emerging legal issues in my chosen field. A fascinating feature of the University also includes its School of International Arbitration, which is a constantly evolving and dynamic dispute resolution mechanism.
How did your time and study at Queen Mary help your career and development?
The Careers and Counselling Service proved particularly helpful to me during my studies at the Law School. The Careers and Enterprise office was immensely helpful and supportive in providing their exceptional support services in terms of employability and career prospects. From running successful employer and alumni events on campus, to offering one-to-one careers and immigration advice. The centre has proved to be one of the largest career’s services in the country.
Is there any advice you would give to current students or recent graduates considering their career options?
Many people believe that professional experience starts after university. However, I strongly believe that you should start looking for opportunities before you graduate. Make sure to list down all of your transferable and specialist skills, including examples of when you have successfully demonstrated each of these skills. An honest assessment of your skills, interests and values will prove to be an important factor when it comes to narrowing down your career options.
What was so special about your time at Queen Mary?
The most special thing about my time here at Queen Mary was the quality of the amazing friendships and memories that I made. They will stay with me for a lifetime. My student experience at the University, combined with the international exposure that I gained, completely changed me as a person. One of the great memories that I remember was when I was invited to a wonderful Christmas Reception Dinner that was hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Groups UK in the Houses of Parliament, Portcullis House Westminster. It was a beautiful event, through which I learned how important it is to learn from different cultures by embracing the message of peace and love for the betterment of humanity in general. Similarly, while I was writing my dissertation thesis, I got a chance to get involved with a charity-based organisation known as ‘Who Is Hussain’, which was working through a set of volunteers to help people in need and most importantly, to support and provide shelter to the homeless in London. I find that being part of such noble causes gives your life a greater sense of purpose and it makes you believe in hope and humanity.
Were you involved in any extracurricular activities whilst you were here?
Whilst I was studying I was actively involved with the Queen Mary Law and Photography Society. The Running and Athletics Club of the University also provided me with real motivation. It was real fun and I got a chance to meet some amazing new people.
Do you have a favourite spot on campus? If so, where is it and why?
My favourite spot on campus is the amazing Graduate Centre in Mile End. The most unique feature of the Centre are the spectacular views from the seventh floor of the building, which leaves you in complete awe every time you visit. In fact, the common rooms open out onto a beautiful wooden decked terrace area, with eye catching views of the City.
Do you have any role models that you look up to, both inside and outside of your field?
Inside the legal profession I have always looked up to Mr. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, as a source of inspiration ever since I choose law in my educational career. His incredible foresight and words of wisdom still continue to motivate and encourage me in this day and age. Outside the field, I have and will always look up to my parents as a beacon of strength, love and support for many more years to come. I can never truly fill their shoes and I will always be inspired by the way they have taught me the art of cultivating a sense of purpose in life.
You can also watch Fizza’s message recorded shortly after her graduation in December 2019 on Queen Mary Instagram account.