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Black History Month sees WSP share Henri Achampongs story

Black History Month sees WSP share Henri Achampong's story

 October 26, 2023

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In celebration of Black History MonthWSP shared the inspiring story of Associate Director, Henri Achampong.

Henri discusses the biggest challenges she has faced, her greatest achievements, and also how channeling her creativity has led to beautiful illustrations.

Being at the centre of the world

Discussing a fun fact about her country of origin, Henri explained: "I'm Ghanian ...Ghana is pretty much at the centre of the world as we know it - about 5° off the equator and on the Greenwich Meridan which represents 0° longitude. The Akan people from Southern Ghana practice a system of inheritance based on the matriarchal lineage. Men still hold the main positions of power in this society, but wealth and status are passed down from the mother's family, for example the King's sister's son is next in line for the throne, rather than the King's own son."

Using her lived experience to encourage others

Highlighting one of the biggest challenges that she has needed to overcome in her career, Henri says: "Finding context for my race and gender in my career has been a big challenge. I've often been the only woman or black person (or both), and in the early days of my career, I felt that this was the main driver of people's interactions with me. I've since had assistance from many allies along the way and have had occasions to work with women and black people who inspired me, not because of their race or gender, but because of their skill and leadership. As my career has progressed and the older I get, I'm able to use my lived experience to encourage others in similar situations, promote psychological safety and inform my response to prejudice when it occurs. Hopefully I'm able to help others.'"

Making successful career moves 

Henri successfully moved from being a landscape architecture into project management, and then another successful move saw her morphe from working in a local authority on the client-side into consultancy.

"I'm also particularly proud of achieving chartered status in both disciplines almost 20 years apart, as well as managing complex multidisciplinary schemes," shares Henri. 

And an interesting fact about Henri? "In the late eighties, it was difficult to find greeting cards which suited all my needs or those of my friends and family, so I started to make them myself," says Henri. "I've always enjoyed drawing and painting, so this was a natural progression. Nowadays, there is access to so much more choice and media, but my friends and family won't let me stop. Luckily, I still enjoy it and still take commissions from time to time." 

Celebrating the invaluable contributions of black people

Black History Month is a momentous occasion to recognise and celebrate the invaluable contributions of black people to British society.

A theme of ‘Saluting our Sisters’ highlights the crucial role that black women have played in shaping history, inspiring change, and building communities. Celebrations showcase pioneering black women who have made remarkable contributions to literature, music, fashion, sport, business, politics, academia, social and health care, and more.

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