Parents should always lead by example.
And for Zahra Ali mum and dad have provided the perfect role models – dad as a self-made businessman and mum as a genius when it comes to Pakistani cuisine!
Zahra, who works as an employment law advisor for Howarths People and Safety Management in Cleckheaton, emulates her father’s work ethic – and is trying to match her mum when it comes to cooking!
She says: “I was born and raised in Dewsbury, so I am a Yorkshire lass!
“My dad started working at the age of 13 with a paper round job and is now a successful business man.
“He achieved so much without any support or financial backing and has always been my inspiration.”
She says: “I always wanted to make my dad and family proud, but I did not really know how to do it.
“I decided to study law as an A-level, not really knowing where this would take me.
“I ended up really enjoying it and decided to do my law degree at Leeds Metropolitan University. I decided that this would be my career path.
“During my law degree, to get some advisory experience. I decided to do some voluntary work at the Citizens Advice Bureau.
“I was taken on as a volunteer general adviser and after some training I was allowed to see clients face to face.
“My role was to take instructions from clients and advise them accordingly. There were a number of areas that I advised on including, housing, benefits, debt, employment and immigration.
“I came across a variety of enquiries and with each enquiry I felt more and more confident.
“I was not working alone; I was part of a team of voluntary advisors who were all very supportive. I really enjoyed my time there.”
Says Zahra: “In order to progress my legal career, I decided to apply for the Legal Practice course in Leeds.
“I completed the course at BPP Law School and started applying for legal jobs.
“At that point I had not secured a training contract, but decided that it was a good thing as it would give me the opportunity to undertake paralegal roles to see how law firms worked in practice.
“I managed to get a job in a national law firm in Leeds as an employment law advisor and that is when I discovered my interest for employment law.
“My role was to provide employment law advice to individuals who qualified for legal aid.
“This was an interesting and challenging role and allowed me to deal with a whole spectrum of employee claims.”
While not lacking in confidence when it came to applying for jobs, Zahra admits that the same can’t be said when she gets behind the wheel of a car!
She says: “I was never a very keen or confident driver, so all the roles that I applied for were usually near a train station or a convenient bus route!
“As fate would have it, in 2012 I was lucky enough to be offered a training contract by a high street firm based in Hull. I accepted the position and commuted everyday from Dewsbury to Hull.
“It is safe to say that I am still not particularly keen on driving – but my driving has improved!”
Says Zahra: “I did a number of ‘seats’ during my training contract, including wills and probate, commercial litigation/debt, criminal law and employment law.
“I enjoyed the different variety of work in different departments, but decided that I wanted to practice employment law.”
At the end of January, Zahra completed her training contract and was keen to move back to West Yorkshire.
“I started applying for newly-qualified solicitors’ roles,” she says.
“An agency put me forward for a position at Howarths and I was invited for an interview.
“I was interviewed by the managing director, Gavin Howarth, and the business development director, Tracey Craven – and was offered a position on the same day!
“The position and the location were ideal for me and I felt as though I would learn and develop my skills here.
“I have been employed by Howarths for a short period of time, but everyone has been so welcoming that I have to remind myself that I am new to the team.
“There was no awkwardness and everyone gets on really well and that shines through with the high level of service Howarths provides to its clients.”
When she’s not working, Zahra is at home trying to master the art of cooking amazing Pakistani food. She says: “My mum is an absolute genius when it comes to Pakistani cuisine and I hope to one day master her technique.”
While Zahra shares her father’s work ethic and hopes to emulate her mum’s cookery skills, she doesn’t share her dad’s taste in movies.
“I love watching movies of different genres – except horror movies,” she says. “My dad is a movie fanatic and in the past he has made me watch horror movies by calling them thrillers! Safe to say I was not happy.
“But watching movies is really an excuse to get together with my family and to spend some time together.”
She says: “I am a real geek and enjoy watching comic book superhero movies and movies such as Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.
“I would really like to learn how to speak and write Arabic and ultimately go travelling around the Eastern countries.
“I have enquired about a few courses and am looking to do this course as soon as possible.
“I believe that learning a different language really does open up new horizons and makes experiences in those countries more enjoyable.”
Zahra adds: “I have recently taken up swimming and realised how unfit I am. The last time I went swimming was when I was at school, so I did pull a lot of muscles in my body when I started swimming again!”
Role: Employment law advisor
Holidays: My last holiday was a trip to Pakistan
Best thing about the job? I enjoy the diversity of my role
Worst thing about the job? Telling someone that they have no claim worth pursuing
Business tip: Building a rapport with clients is a key attribute to business development
Work: Employment law specialists
Site: Brooke Street, Cleckheaton
Phone: 01274 864999