Baroness Sandip Verma, visited Compton Campus yesterday (FRI) for a special lecture, organised by the Management Research Centre, entitled Achieving in Business and Education.
Baroness Verma said she was delighted to be returning to the city, where she stood as parliamentary candidate four years ago before being elevated to the House of Lords in 2006.
She praised the University for its links with industry and its inclusive nature.
"It is enormously encouraging to see that the University is very much engaged in helping businesses," she said. "As someone with a business background I know that is crucial to have a relationship with higher education."
She also stressed the importance of giving young people options and information so they could make informed decisions about their future.
An audience of around 40 attended the talk and were given the opportunity to ask questions. Baroness Verma revealed that she was passionate about history and would study Indian history if she were to take a degree now.
She became the first South Asian woman to sit on the front benches, across both Houses of Parliament.
Subsequent promotions have seen her appointed as Shadow Minister for Universities, Innovation and Skills in 2007 and Shadow Minister for Children, Schools and Families in 2008.
Baroness Verma has a background in business, having established a family textiles business with her husband in the 1980s, supplying high fashion garments to high street stores in the UK and Europe.
When the textiles industry in the UK declined, they set up two businesses they now run. Domicillary Care Services Ltd provides personal care to assist users to live in their own homes, while DCS Foods Ltd is the sole distributors for rice suitable for diabetics in the UK and Europe and was the winner of the 2008 New Product category of the Food and Drink Innovation Network awards supported by the East Midlands Development Agency (EMDA).
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