Higher education provider Global Banking School (GBS) continued on 14 October its ‘An interview with…’ series, hosting modern-day renaissance man Yogesh Patel, MBE.

Patel, an award-winning (trilingual) poet, journalist, writer, accountant, activist, and qualified optometrist, discussed a range of fascinating topics with Dr Stephen O’Brien, GBS’s Communications Director and Editor of The London Magazine.

Recounting his engrossing journey – from his arrival in the UK, when he was detained at Harmondsworth’s immigration detention facility, to the present day, when this year he was included on the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List for his services to literature – Patel offered a plethora of invaluable insights and advice on career progression, perseverance, and how to live a full life.

Speaking of his initial difficult period in the UK, Patel said that “rather than sulk, I started thinking about the future” – and what he wanted to do with his life.

Within days of his release Patel had landed a job at luxury department store Harrod’s, eventually moving on to opticians chain Dollond & Aitchison where, despite being a certified optometrist, he took on a role he was overqualified for, as he had to wait until completing his conversion courses to practice optometry in the UK.

“Sometimes one has to compromise,” said Patel. “Changes in life happen, and you can’t just sit back. Some of your students might also come across this – in their careers as well. It’s just a part of life. The key thing is to get over it and start working on it.”

Patel then joined the pharmacy chain Boots, then set up his own practice and, in the 1970s, began writing poetry.

Since then he has published several poetry collections in English, Hindi and Gujarati, a collection of short stories, and a Hindi phrasebook. He has recorded four LPs, written for film and radio, and also been involved in activism, founding the non-profit organisation Skylark Publications, which seeks to promote and publish unrecognised diaspora writers and poets.

After a varied and exciting career, Patel offered this advice as his recipe for success:

“Basically, what happens is that in life everything is difficult – a struggle. One has to be able to adjust to changes. The key thing is to prepare, to acquire skills, to work hard, to learn, to see how others are doing things. All that adds to your repertoire. If you don’t do it, then the rest is just a dream.”

GBS’s ‘An interview with…’ is a series of interviews featuring a host of industry experts and leaders in their fields. It aims to provide inspiration, insights, and words of wisdom and encouragement for students and others. GBS promises a line-up of fascinating speakers and topics over the coming months.

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