Arrival Education
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Arrival Education

“We have a collective responsibility to create a culture where people feel they are accepted and valued. We have to lean into programmes like this or else nothing is going to change.”

We interviewed Khalid Ayofe and Annabel Roy who recently completed our Inclusive Leadership Programme with Tesco Business Leaders. They spoke to us about the insight and understanding they gained throughout the programme and the impact this has had. Together they explored how their friendship has developed and how they are committed to keep the momentum going.

Please tell us about yourself and your career?

Annabel: I’ve been with Tesco for about 15 years. I started on a graduate scheme with the Location Planning team. From there, I progressed through various roles in Property and I’m now Planning & Programme Director leading Tesco’s Property Strategy.

Khalid: I think my journey is a little different than most as I started as a school leaver. I started at PwC in an entry level position instead of going the traditional route through university and I’ve since progressed to become a manager at Deloitte leading technical transformation.

Why did you want to be part of the Arrival programme and what were you hoping to gain from it?

Annabel: I always thought I was an inclusive leader but I lacked that lived experience to be able to approach difficult conversations and challenge our work culture. I wanted to learn how to speak more openly on issues surrounding D&I so I could set the culture as a leader in my team. It was important to learn these things from a person who had a very different background to mine.

Khalid: I wanted to know more about Tesco: its different business areas and what it was doing in terms of D&I. I also felt it was important to share my experiences to help change the working culture for diverse talent like me.

Can you share something about your pairing with each other and what you’ve learned from getting to know Annabel/Khalid?

Khalid: I’ve definitely made a friend in Annabel. We were and still are able to talk about a huge range of topics and I’ve learnt qualities from Annabel that will help me be a better leader. I also learnt the value of my own experience, as I was able to support her on some difficult discussions. When we were first paired, I was surprised by the passion and drive Annabel had, especially for someone in her position within the company. It was refreshing.

Annabel: I too feel we’ve developed a genuine friendship, we are able to constructively challenge each other and give advice on all aspects of life. Our similarities helped to make it easy to have in-depth conversations, especially around how we are going to really make change. Knowing Khalid is there to support me has given me more drive and ambition than ever to keep the momentum going, not just in my department but across Tesco.

What were the key moments for you in terms of your relationship and the wider programme?

Annabel: Speaking at Khalid’s old secondary school was definitely one of my biggest highlights. It was a defining moment for me personally because it took me back to my school days and allowed me to reflect on how my peers from diverse backgrounds may have felt as my school was not very diverse — we only had one Black child in my class. It was so energising and I hope the session inspired the children we spoke to.

Khalid: I would agree, the school visit was a defining moment. When someone came to speak in my school, I remember the impact it had on my journey and I wanted to give the young people the same opportunity, ignite that inspiration. The students were super engaged and Annabel’s support and openness helped to win them over. For many, that could have been the only opportunity to hear from someone like Annabel and I hope we get to do it again.

“The programme challenged my own thoughts in a really safe environment.” Annabel Roy

How has the programme compared to your expectations at the start? Have there been any surprises?

Khalid: The programme was beyond my expectations — the pairing was spot on and that added to its success. The communication, like the regular check-ins, helped to support our journey because we knew we had a guide at Arrival if we ever felt we needed to refocus. The closing event was really powerful, I loved hearing from others — both leaders and the talent — and was amazed by how everyone was so comfortable being vulnerable.

Annabel: The programme surpassed my expectations as well, it opened my mind further to how Tesco is leaning in and supporting diverse colleagues, as well as challenging my own thoughts in a safe environment. I feel more connected to myself, to others and to Tesco’s journey and I learnt that it’s okay to feel uncomfortable sometimes. I was surprised by how open and honest everyone was as well, even when challenging the Tesco leaders, it never felt confrontational.

What impact has the programme had on you, both professionally and personally?

Annabel: Professionally, it made me realise we can do more on a daily basis instead of only at certain events, training or within programmes. It’s inspired me to keep the momentum going, to keep challenging my peers and myself. I talk to everyone about my experience and I’d like to say it has helped to influence their thinking around D&I and the impact they can have within their parts of the business.

Khalid: I have gained a peer as well as a friend. It is great to have a close relationship to someone with a completely different background to me as we are constantly learning from each other. Professionally, I have someone who is a more experienced leader and who can be a sounding board when I need support in my current and future career path.

“Knowing a business leader had taken part in this programme would bring talent to an organisation because they can see their values through action over potentially hollow promises.” Khalid Ayofe

Why do you think it’s important for business leaders to take part in programmes like this one?

Annabel: We have a collective responsibility to create a culture where people feel they are accepted and valued. This isn’t just around D&I, it’s around everything that we do. We have to make proactive decisions and lean into programmes like this or else nothing is going to change.

Khalid: Knowing a business leader had taken part in this programme would bring talent to an organisation because they can see their values through action over potentially hollow promises. For those within an organisation, it creates loyalty as employees have more confidence they are valued, included and that their voices will be heard. This loyalty will help to foster ownership of the company and brand which only makes the company better.

What have you done and what are you planning to do to make Tesco a place where socially and ethnically diverse talent can succeed?

Annabel: I’ve continued to be an ally, learning from the experiences of my colleagues and using the resources we have already. We have a Black Action Plan, which is helping to create change and improve our culture for the benefit of our Black colleagues.

The programme has really made it hit home that we need to stop using the same approach we always have when it comes to recruitment because that is the only way we will obtain and attract the diverse talent that we need. I am passionate about continuing to drive this conversation forward so our future leaders and colleagues represent our customer base. We now have a group of Tesco leaders that have been on the programme and are actively working to create this change and it’s all inspired by the relationships we’ve built whilst on this programme. There is lots we can do and the future is exciting — but it will only happen if we continue to keep agitating and creating the change!

What are your hopes and expectations looking ahead?

Khalid: I want to inspire young people to take that step and shoot for the moon because they really can. Take every opportunity.

Annabel: I want to make everyone in my team and in my life, feel as comfortable and accepted as Khalid and I felt with each other so that equality, fairness and ultimately positive progression can continue to happen.



An award-winning organisation, Arrival Education has more than 13 years of experience helping leading businesses become more diverse and inclusive. We help businesses recruit, retain and develop socially and ethnically diverse young talent and help the talent achieve success.

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