MEET THE TEAM
We're an all-female
South Asian powerhouse
Kam Panesar | Arts & Exhibition Manager
Kam completed her undergraduate degree in Design Studies at the University of Wolverhampton and continued to work for the arts sector in galleries around Wolverhampton. She went on to complete an MA in Museum Studies at Leicester University and has since worked in several museums abroad in addition to the UK.
Currently, she is developing her own portfolio looking at patterns from around the world which are executed with an Asian theme, inspired by Asian fabrics and meticulous workmanship. Having over 10 years experience as an Art & Design specialist, she has created handmade items for bespoke wedding installations, interior projects on commission, upcycled jewellery and other items for retail purposes.
Her work has been sold across various galleries and creative outlets throughout the West Midlands and Midlands.
Kiran Johal | Festival Event Manager
Kiran has 7 years of event management experience and has completed her undergraduate degree in BA Hons Events Management at Staffordshire University.
She is established within the South Asian wedding industry as well as in the corporate sector. Kiran is a Senior Events Executive at French multi-national hospitality company Accor, where she is also the Birmingham culture and diversity champion at Accor.
Kiran has been dancing the North folk art of Bhangra & Giddha since the age of ten from performing on many stages across the UK and taking her abroad. She teaches in many different sectors including education and the community with the elderly and young.
In 2017, Kiran took to the stage for the first time if representing her city Birmingham Placing with the top three, representing the West Midlands placing 15 out of 64 to then missing of one point in 2018 again at Miss Birmingham promoting and standing for her culture and promoting diversity through performing arts and community support.
Sim Sandhu | Literary Co-ordinator
Sim is the editorial assistant for Macmillan Children's Book 6+, focussing on YA fiction and poetry. She grew up in Dartford, Kent and went on to gain an undergraduate degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Warwick. She's the Student Outreach and Inclusivity Officer for the London branch of the Society of Young Publishers and a proud Creative Access Alumni.
A lover of spoken word poetry, a supporter of diverse children's literature and advocate for body neutrality, Sim lives as a property guardian in an old 20th-century warehouse and can often be found at her local vegan watering hole, with her nose in a book.
Shay Grewal | Deputy Director
Shay Grewal, BBC Radio London and BBC Radio WM presenter is our festival host. The accolades celebrating her work include;
• 2017 Media Award winner at the Asian Women of Achievement Awards for her
radio work championing women and communities
• 2017 GG2 Media & Creative Arts Award for exemplary achievement in the creative
Aleena Iman | Social Media Manager
Aleena, a proud American Pakistani living in London, is a senior digital health strategist at Edelman, a global public relations and marketing agency – where she gets to do fun, creative and award-winning digital/social media work for healthcare companies.
With over 10 years of experience, she’s passionate about discovering audience insights to inform integrated campaigns and digital strategies to help brands tell their stories online and to ensure campaigns are reaching and engaging the right audience, on the right channel, with the right message.
She got involved with Asian Woman Festival because of her move to London in 2018. Once her news to ‘move across the pond’ spread like wildfire within the close-knit Pakistani community in Washington DC, she found her mom answering a lot of questions like “how and why are you letting her go all the way to London alone?!” and facing comments like “But, she isn’t even married yet.” The month before the big move was a constant reminder that while she’s truly blessed to be able to chase her dreams and have the support of her family, not all Asian woman have the same opportunities or at least aren’t able to pursue them so easily. She’s fighting for them and all the women who are still facing and held back by old thinking.
In her free time, she enjoys photography, travelling, volunteering at orphanages, finding lost socks and proving aunties wrong.
Kiran Chaggar | Strategic Partnerships Manager
With her passion for business, Kiran is a strategic thinker who loves to think outside the box. Her touch of creativity, along with her business acumen is what sets her apart from the rest.
Kiran currently works as a Category Buyer for Holland and Barrett, where she heads up the Snacking division. Here she gets to use her commercial and negotiation skills through launching new products, as well as ensuring her current range is always the right offering for her customers.
Kiran’s career started after realising university wasn’t the correct path for her. She started as a Trainee to the buying team at Next. Once she looked past the mundane tasks she was asked to do, she channelled all the energy into becoming the best version of herself.
In the past 8 years, with a lot of hard work and sheer determination, Kiran is the only South Asian Woman in the management team.
“I am really passionate about what I do, and making a change is what motivates me. I like to always see the bigger picture, to help paint my own. Whether it be in business or personal life, positivity and enthusiasm are key.”
Uzma Shaheen | Community Outreach & Engagement Manager
Uzma is an experienced senior fundraiser with a demonstrated history of working in the non-profit sector, Uzma started her career in the NHS where she held various non-clinical roles where she worked for over 14 years. She is also a Trustee & Statutory Director of the Waverley Foundation.
Despite being fiercely independent, she identifies with other people’s points of view. She monitors her own output closely and will criticize herself ahead of anyone else. Her judgment is sound and can be relied upon without compunction. Her behaviour is entirely consistent, what you see is what you will get.
Uzma’s career has given her more than 10 years’ experience in project and event management. Uzma has highly developed leadership and motivational skills, demonstrating her ability to deliver and implement strategic projects.
Maleha Sheikh | Assistant Co-ordinator
Maleha graduated from King’s College London, with a degree in Religion, Philosophy & Ethics. She has a keen interest in International relations, Women’s Rights and Mental Health especially of those with intersectional identities. She is currently working in the Civil Service as a Fast Streamer which is a graduate leadership programme for ambitious individuals.
She is a British Pakistani, born and bred in London which meant she grew up in a melting pot of identities and experiences. A keen traveller, Maleha spent some time abroad studying Philosophy in Singapore. Maleha is a free-spirited thinker and outspoken in her views on the female Asian experience. She wants to tackle the culture of honour and shame so her young nieces can grow up to be unapologetically themselves.
Kim Bansi | Content Manager
Kim is a writer, editor and content creator, who currently works for the student app UNiDAYS. She studied English Literature and Language at King’s College London, and since graduating she has also created content within the charity sector and worked in PR and marketing.
As well as her writing, Kim has worked in video and even produced her very own documentary on female body hair, Rewired: Ditch the Razor. She also has a blog of her own where she discusses topics from mental health and feminism, to book reviews and interviews with inspirational women. Kim aims to break taboos and empower women, especially Asian women, through her writing and content.
In her spare time, Kim loves dancing with her all-female diva dance group and going to adult craft classes.