Equality Rights Lawyer Sandie Okoro, Becomes First Female Chancellor of the University of Birmingham

by Joseph Omoniyi
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The University of Birmingham has proudly announced the appointment of Sandie Okoro OBE, a distinguished lawyer and advocate for equality rights, as its next Chancellor. Okoro, currently Group General Counsel of Standard Chartered, will succeed Lord Bilimoria of Chelsea CBE, who has served in the role for the past decade.

Okoro, a University of Birmingham alumna, has a storied career marked by significant achievements in promoting diversity, equality, and women’s rights. She holds a degree in Law and Politics from Birmingham and qualified as a barrister at City, University of London, before transitioning to a solicitor. Her professional journey includes pivotal roles such as Head of Legal for Corporate Services at Schroders, Global General Counsel at Barings, and General Counsel for HSBC Global Asset Management. She also served as Senior Vice-President and General Counsel, and Vice-President for Compliance at the World Bank Group.

Expressing her excitement about her new role, Okoro said, “I am truly honoured and delighted to be appointed Chancellor. It’s a fantastic opportunity for me to give a little something back to the amazing University that has given so very much to me and my family.”

Adam Tickell, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Birmingham, welcomed Okoro’s appointment, stating, “We are excited to welcome Sandie as our new Chancellor. She is a highly respected trailblazer in the corporate legal sector and is of course a proud University of Birmingham graduate. To hear her talk about breaking glass ceilings and aiming high is inspirational and reflects the attitude and passion of our university and our commitment to championing equality, diversity and inclusion.”

The role of Chancellor is largely ceremonial, involving presiding over degree ceremonies, engaging with the university community and stakeholders, and acting as an advocate to elevate the university’s profile regionally, nationally, and globally.

Okoro’s connection to the University of Birmingham runs deep, spanning three generations in her family. “The wonderful University of Birmingham is the alma mater to three generations of the Okoros, my mum, me, and my son. So my connection to it is very special indeed,” she said.

Throughout her career, Okoro has received numerous accolades, including being named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2024 New Year Honours for her services to Diversity in International Finance. She has been honoured with a lifetime achievement award from the UK Black Solicitors Network and recognized by City A.M. as one of the Power 100 Women. Her other notable awards include the Howard University 2019 Vanguard Women Award and the Beyond the Glass Ceiling Award by the Leadership Institute for Women of Color Attorneys.

In addition to her professional roles, Okoro has contributed significantly to various organizations. She was the inaugural Chair of the Women of the World Foundation and holds honorary lifetime Emeritus membership of the Law Societies’ Compact and Forum for Sustainable Development Goal 16. She also serves as a Governor of the Royal Shakespeare Company and has been involved with the human rights organization JUSTICE, the Law Society’s Diversity Access Scheme, and the Premier League’s Equality Standards Panel.

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