Tell me about yourself. 

I am happy to call myself a global citizen and a highly qualified, highly skilled migrant woman. Here is why: I was born in Zambia to a Malawian dad and part Congolese and part Zambian mum, so right at my appearance in this world, my place as a migrant was sealed. I was always reminded of that by family and friends. Plus, I was born in a Christian nation with a Muslim name. I was the joke of the other kids. As an adult, I moved to England in 2001; from the onset, I was reminded I was a migrant in this country, too. Anyway, regardless, I have been blessed with four daughters, two grown with my first husband, whom I divorced in 2009, and two pre-teens from my second husband, whom I divorced in 2023. Daughters 3 and 4 are still at home with me. I love all my four daughters; they are the reasons I wake up and work hard.

Careerwise, I have worked in private, public, and voluntary sectors. My happiest times were when I was the founder and chief executive of a charity that helped bridge the gap between Black and Minority Ethnic Communities and mainstream services in West Sussex, UK. Had it not been for charitable funding becoming a challenge post-2010, I would still be doing the work, and in a way, I do, but just differently. One of my American mentors said:

“You cannot sustain the mission when you are broke,” Brendon Burchard.

Now, I am an intersectionality and identity expert focusing on organisational culture. I hold a master’s in leadership and management from the University of Southampton and a PhD in Leadership and Organisational Studies from De Montfort University, where I am still a part-time lecturer and a researcher. I operate in both academic and practitioner environments. I am enthusiastic about the links between highly skilled migrants (HSM) and internationally recruited staff outcomes and retention in leadership and organisations, so I guess I can say I have not worked a day in my life as I really love my work.

Why are you enthusiastic about this subject?

Organisations in the West are currently heavily reliant on highly skilled migrants from mainly developing countries to fill shortages in critical roles. The ongoing process of globalisation is transforming the workforce composition, resulting in a frequent occurrence of HSMs joining diverse workplaces. Although these professionals possess distinct expertise and viewpoints, they frequently encounter the challenge of navigating intricate cultural variations within their new work environments. In addition, research has shown that many HSMs from developing countries find themselves in roles that are lower than their qualifications and experience. This leads to shifting perspectives and fighting an upward battle to reconstruct their professional identities.

From the organisations’ perspective, as employers, the quest for workplace equality and inclusion has received increasing attention. However, the leadership pipeline remains a major challenge. Despite these concerted efforts to foster greater diversity and inclusivity within organisations, inequities and systemic racism frequently endure, impeding the advancement of underrepresented individuals into leadership positions.

From where I stand, addressing disparities and discrimination within the leadership pipeline is of utmost importance for fostering an atmosphere that encourages equitable opportunities for all staff to achieve success and contribute significantly. In addition, the more we do now, the better the chances for generations who look like me. It is not always easy to do what I do, but I believe that nothing worth achieving comes easy.

So, how do you fit in all these aspects of your life?

I will let you into some of my diverse intersecting parts.

As an academic researcher

I am an activist qualitative researcher sitting in the interpretivist and social constructionist paradigm. I strongly believe while numbers tell what is going on, lived experiences and co-construction are where we move the dial. My research centres on asking questions around.

  • Why do these disparities exist?
  • How can they be challenged?
  • What needs to happen to achieve lasting change beyond tick-box exercises?

As a lecturer

In addition to research, I teach Human Resources Management (HRM) and organisational studies at both undergraduate and postgraduate university levels.

As a Leadership, organisational development, and inclusive culture practitioner

My focus involves helping organisations dedicated to cultivating inclusive cultures in their workforce, especially for marginalised communities and internationally recruited staff, offering support from onboarding to career development. The work includes overseeing the development and implementation of strategic planning, change management, talent development, organisational culture improvement, employee engagement, performance management, organisational design, conflict resolution, data analysis, communication, and collaboration with other functions.


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Dr Amina, you are incredibly talented, and you have achieved so much. What drives you? Maybe tell me more about your early life.

My early life has shaped my adult life. I have heard people say, Amina, you are lucky with where you are. Things seem to come naturally to you. Well, maybe luck has something to do with it, but I strongly believe you cannot really appreciate where you are without challenges. Many adults were born rich but live a very unfulfilled life. A few months ago, someone reminded me about the power of the personal story, which I seem to have lost as I have gained more experience and academic credentials. So, I hope you have a bit more time as I will tell you my personal and very candid story.

Yes, over my life, I have had some achievements. I have pushed boundaries, and I have travelled to many countries around the world, both for work and training and holidays with my children. However, it all did not start out that way. I thank my neurodivergence, even if it took me over 40 years to understand my neurodivergence and my upbringing for where I am now. While many would talk about a stable childhood with parents who supported their dreams, mine was the opposite, actually. I have struggled to fit in the neurotypical world. I have masked to the point of exhaustion. Now, this is not a complaint because it all makes me who I am today. Front and centre of all the mess that is me are my four daughters. They drive me to be better all the time.


My childhood

Allow me to start with a quote from one author I admire.

“It does not matter where you are coming from. All that matters is where you are going”, Brian Tracy

I was born in Mtendere, a shanty township in Lusaka, Zambia. My mum had ten children, and I was the tenth child. Growing up, my life was confusing because, being the youngest of ten (eight living at the time), I spent holidays and some weekends away from my mum. On some holidays and weekends, I lived with my older sisters or aunties. While my mum had little, the other houses I lived in had televisions, electricity, and decent food.

Nonetheless, I missed home and the love Mum had for me. In addition to the many houses where I lived, I moved around with my immediate elder sister, and we spent holidays with our dad. I felt shielded and loved by her. Unfortunately, when I was about nine years old, my immediate sister, who was my best friend, was moved from mum’s house, which eventually left only my brother, who was ten years older than me and myself alone. He was in secondary school, and I was in primary school. I remember the lovely days from about fifth to seventh grade, at home with Mum, my elder brother, and me. We did not have much, but it was a beautiful life; I had adjusted to not having my immediate elder sister at home. That said, we had other relatives living with us whom my mum was helping, so it did not really feel lonely. However, my life took a different turn when I was 12 years old. My mum got terribly ill, and it was decided that I was going to live with one of my elder sisters. Yet again, it was a change I had to adjust to. I was taken out of Lusaka to a town that was about a 12-hour bus journey to get back to my mum. I missed her dearly, though I now get to see her maybe two to three times a year and mostly for a few days at a time.

Invisibly Visible

As a young person, I often found myself sitting on the sidelines, visible yet feeling invisible. With all the changes, moving from house to house, experiencing both the poor and comfortable life depending on which house I was in, I wondered who I was and why I was not like everybody else. Sometimes, in some homes, I felt loved and cared for, even pampered a bit, whereas in others, I was invisible, and I had to work for my keep. I was sent to boarding school just before my thirteenth birthday, where I was to spend the next six years of my teenage life. We broke off from school every three months. Then it was but to my Ping-Pong life with no regular home to go to. By then, my mum was really not in a position to look after me, so it was sisters and aunties. I know she loved me very much, but it was the arrangements that had been agreed, as since her illness, she had not really worked to support me. I stopped going to my dad’s house for holidays at 14 years old due to the treatment I received from my stepmum. My sisters were paying for my education, so they made most of the decisions about my life.

Because I did not do very well in primary school and missed the pass mark by a few points, I was placed in a boarding school that fit my results; it was basic in both teaching and food. The food was mainly nshima and rice with beans and cabbage cooked in drums; occasionally, we had chicken or beef, but that was exceedingly rare, and it was the survival of the fittest. It was then, at the age of fifteen, that I took matters into my own hands, and my life started feeling like I was, for once, in control. I loved being at boarding school. I enjoyed a life where I had no expectations of anyone caring for me. It just felt right to me, and I became a bit of a troublemaker. I enjoyed being at boarding school so much that I hated having to go to my family for a month every quarter as I did not know which house I would end up living in for the month. Some I liked and was treated well, and some it was a struggle. The one thing I am lucky for is that I somehow grasped things at school quickly despite being a bit of a challenge for some of my teachers.

Curving My Path

After struggling to feel like I genuinely belonged for most of my life, I decided that I was going to work hard and do the best I could for myself. I did not know what my life would turn out to be or where I would end up, but I learned to grab opportunities and work hard to get what I wanted. Luckily for me, there was not much guidance on how to be, so I just made up the rules as I went. I took risks. I was free from my limitations as no one really told me what I could do. A few people told me I could not do certain things or amount to anything, but I took those comments as a challenge. So much so that I lived my life like I had points to prove until in my forties.

My life was also filled with the grief of losing both my parents suddenly. My dad when I was 21 years of age and mum when I was twenty-four. I had also lost my grandma and two siblings, who were my comforters by the age of eighteen. As of now, I only have two living siblings. It has taken me therapy and real reflection to begin to process some of my challenges and see the many positives and achievements as deserved.

So, as a neurodivergent and proud twice divorcee mother of four daughters spanning four decades, I have gained valuable insights into the importance of not settling for what is not working and navigating societal pressures. Drawing from personal experiences, I am committed to helping other women confront the challenges of balancing their professional and personal lives as complete individuals.

Now, I have turned my transformation into my work, and I help people to author books about their lives, whatever they choose to write about. I have contributed to a number of books, some of which have even won awards. I believe some of us are lost because no one told us the stories about our origins. I believe that through sharing and writing, we leave a legacy for our loved ones. I aim to help people to unlock their potential and start enjoying life like never before. I have spoken to audiences internationally about my life and career. I believe that writing books and impacting others through speaking have earned me the international keynote speaker and author credential. I am enthusiastic about equity and inclusion in leadership and improving organisational culture.

Tell me more about your work with Highly Skilled Migrants and Internationally Recruited Staff; I have seen you talk a lot about this on your socials and conferences.

I thought you would not ask! I am intrigued by the concept of ‘self-inclusion into leadership,’ a concept I coined during my PhD studies. It describes the mindset one has to adopt in pursuit of achieving their leadership goals. Especially those less commonly perceived as possessing leadership qualities, such as ethnic minorities and migrant women. I approach the perspective through an identity theory and intersectionality lens, advocating for women to seek opportunities rather than passively awaiting doors to open proactively. I acknowledge the existence of systemic barriers and structural inequalities that may lead some people to give up. Still, in my work, I emphasise the importance of persistently pursuing career goals. In addition, I also work to support women who have attained senior leadership positions, assisting them in navigating workplace politics and steering clear of the challenges associated with the glass cliff phenomenon. I have gained valuable insights from a career spanning over 20 years in leadership, people and culture collaborating with others.

Service,  my Ikigai

Way before I even knew it, I was living my ikigai. Ikigai is a Japanese term that translates as "reason for being." It means that we all have a purpose in life, and it is our responsibility to find it. 'Iki' means 'life,' and 'gai' means 'value,' so Ikigai is pretty much self-explanatory. I won't go into detail about it, but if you want to learn more, read Tim Tamashiro's book "How to Ikigai". I have always loved working in jobs where I am helping people. From an early age, I have found myself in positions where, I teaching, leading or helping others. Three years after arriving in the UK, I founded a non-profit bridging the gap between ethnic minority communities and mainstream services. I did this as my full-time job for 10 years; it was the best time of my life. It was a huge challenge but one that never felt like work. I had a community and family in all the people I worked with and those to whom we provided services. I am extremely dedicated to sharing and passing on this knowledge to those in need; in 2020, I founded a think tank, Migrants’ Leadership Institute. You can learn more about what we offer here at MLI. My work and research are aligned with the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Agenda 2030, specifically targeting SDG 5: Gender Equality and SDG 10: Reducing inequalities. As the saying goes:

“The best way to predict the future is to create it,” Peter Drucker

You mentioned that you have authored books and helped others to do so. Can you please elaborate on that and how you started?

Well, thanks for that question. The truth is, “where there is a will, there is a way, and as some of the teachers, I look up to say:

“Begin with the end in mind,” Dr Stephen R. Covey

“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great,” Zig Ziglar

 I am the founder of Diverse Cultures Publishing, an independent publishing house collaborating with indie authors and offering co-authoring opportunities. Visit  (DCP) to see what we offerYou can take my flagship book writing course, which will help you in your journey to your first book and beyond.

My focus is on the crucial role people play as the primary source of competitive advantage. In doing so, organisations and society as a whole leverage their social capital and humanistic visions through balanced decision-making capacity.

You have gained some recognition in your community. Can you share that?

Yes, I can, I have received the following:

  • Award Winner - Entrepreneur of the Year 2017, African Women in Europe
  • Award Winner - Career Woman of The Year – UK Zambian Awards, 2012
  • Named as one of the 20 Successful Zambian Women in the UK – 2012
  • Award winner - Community Engagement and Volunteering 2011-12


In addition to my academic credentials, I am a lifelong learner; I have achieved the following certifications and training.

  • Certified Corporate and Executive Coach, UK
  • Certified High-Performance Coach, USA
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)
  • Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management (though I have not renewed my fellowship this last year)
  • CPD Standards Organisation Accredited Coach and Trainer.

Thank you so much for your time and candidness, Dr Amina Chitembo. If people want to reach you and learn more about you, how can they reach you?

Well, thank you so much for your time, too. I love social media, and the digital age is here to stay, so I have my website and social media platforms. Or simply typing my name in Google will show up some results. In addition, people can subscribe to my newsletter and other musings to keep up to date; they can also be notified about new courses and events we are running. Thank you so much for having me. It has been a pleasure.

Authored Books 

Pushing through Fear Stereotypes and Imperfections: Super Easy Self-Help Strategies for Transition and Change. To be published in January 2018.

The Serious Player’s Decisive Business Start-up Guide:  How to Set Up Your Business in 4 Easy-to-Follow Steps, Published in March 2017.

Co-authored with over seventy other people.

  1. Co-Author of How to Break the Glass Ceiling without Using a Hammer (Chapter - Home Away from Home)
  2. Co-Author of Madam CEO: How to Think and Act like a Chief Executive (Face the Fear and Do It Anyway: Handling Transition and Change)
  3.  Co-Author of What’s the Difference? Embracing Diversity & Inclusivity (Chapter - Succeeding in a World with Diverse Cultures).

Contact me if you have any questions, or you can connect with me on social media.  

Contact me