Nimisha Parmar came to the UK from India in the early 1990s and the council was her first employer in the UK. Here she talks about her career journey with us from being a community dance teacher to what she describes as her ‘dream job’ as a senior analyst/programmer.

What first attracted you to the council?
I came to the UK from India in 1993 and joined the council’s arts department in early 1994, when I was chosen to do a small community dance project. Dance is a great passion of mine and trained in classical Indian Dance. I had also completed a degree in Mathematics at the university in Vadodara and had started a post graduate course in computer science. I was able to combine my interests and studies to help with some administrative work for the arts department.

How did your career with the council develop?
I wanted to continue my university studies from India and was looking for more flexibility so I could do that. I joined the Standby register and started short term roles across various different council departments. At the same time, I applied for a scheme operated by the council that enabled people who had overseas university qualifications to achieve an equivalent recognised qualification in the UK. I managed to get a place at De Montfort University to complete the final year of my degree in Computer Science.

The council really helped me with this. I was able to work as a standby clerk for four days and study at university for one day a week and the council also helped to fund some of paid part of my university fees. I was very grateful for the support they gave me and after two years, I gained my degree and gained a role as a trainee analyst/programmer with the council. This was my dream job because I was learning new skills and at the same time I could work on projects that helped the community, such as the database I wrote for Leicester Market.

I learned a lot as a trainee and after a couple of years I was able to get a full-time permanent role as analyst and programmer. After the birth on my first son the council approved my request to reduce my hours and I moved to a part-time role to help look after the family. Now I’m a senior analyst and programmer working on lots of different projects – and I’m still learning.

What’s the working atmosphere like?
My team have always been brilliant – they’re like a family. When I first joined the council, my big concern was that, although I’d done all my studies in English, it wasn’t my first language, so at the back of my mind I wondered how I’d fit in. I was also the youngest member of the department when I started as a trainee. But I’ve never felt like an outsider and everybody at the council has accepted me and helped me to develop my career.

What do you most enjoy about working here?
The council has given me a lot and I’ve been very fortunate, so I always want to give something back. Working here, I always feel I’m doing something to help the community. I may not be on the front line, but I can see how my work behind the scenes helps people.

When I moved to a part-time role, it gave me the freedom to be involved in other community projects. One of these was the Suits and Saris exhibition at New Walk Museum in Leicester in 2012. It was completely different to my usual work, but it linked to my first loves of clothing and art.

What makes it a great place to work?
The flexibility the council has given me has enabled me to do lots of different things and they have always supported me. I think a lot of people might think that if you work for a council it’s quite laid back and not very exciting. But the projects I’ve been working on – particularly during the Covid pandemic – have been critical projects that had to be completed very quickly.

For example, we had to create the systems so the council could provide winter grant that were affected by the lockdowns. This was very important, so there were a few late nights. But I think if you’re good at something, it’s good to give something back to the community. Ultimately, our aim is to help the community – that’s our ethos. I’ve had a really interesting journey and I’m in a happy place.

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