Barrister aims to improve access to justice through Cass MBA

Meet Artis Kakonge,Coca-Cola Global Women’s Leadership MBA Scholarship holder

Artis Kakonge, a barrister specialising in children’s and family law, is the first scholarship recipient of the prestigious Coca-Cola Global Women’s Leadership MBA Scholarship.

The Cass Global Women’s Programme fuels the development of responsible, authentic and thriving women leaders, providing support through all stages of their careers.

Funded by The Coca-Cola Foundation, the programme includes support for four women MBA scholars with exceptional potential to lead global women’s leadership development efforts.  Scholarship recipients are drawn from each of Cass’s four MBA programmes: full-time, evening and modular executive programs in London and the executive MBA in Dubai.

About Artis

Artis, who began her EMBA in March 2017, is in-house legal counsel for a London local authority and a tenant at Garden Court Chambers.

She holds joint American and British citizenship and grew up in East, West and Southern Africa.  After reading Law at Oxford Brookes University, she went on to gain an MSc in Criminal Justice Policy (LSE) and an LLM in Law and Development (School of Oriental and African Studies).  She was called to the Bar in 2006 after completing the BVC at the Inns of Court School of Law (now City Law School).

Choosing Cass

She decided to study for an EMBA after deciding to diversify her skillset to ensure longevity in her career.  Choosing a Cass EMBA meant that she could continue working whilst studying part-time.

“I saw how the implementation of cuts to legal aid in 2010 changed the market for children’s law services dramatically. It is a much more competitive arena and we now must be much more business minded - doing more with less and finding creative solutions to deal with dwindling budgets.

“I realised that in the long-term, specialist legal knowledge was insufficient to progress my career or to deal with the current challenges that I faced. I noticed that lawyers who were now senior executives in the public sector had an MBA and considered it a good investment.”

Developing leadership skills

Artis was inspired to apply for the Coca-Cola Global Women’s Leadership Scholarship as she wanted to develop the leadership skills needed to have an impact in the public sector.

“There is currently a ‘diversity deficit’ in the public and voluntary sectors in the UK, particularly at executive level.  I think it is important for women to be equally represented in leadership roles and I thought this Scholarship would help me break the glass ceiling.  I was also attracted to the aims of the initiative and could relate to the importance of good leadership in working with marginalised communities.”

The Cass Global Women’s Leadership Programme will hold four events a year which will be organised and planned by the Scholars. Events will be a mixture of panels, training workshops and networking opportunities and will be held in London, Dubai, Hong Kong and New York.

Artis is currently working with Dr Canan Kocabasoglu-Hillmer, Director, Cass Global Women’s Leadership Programme, and the Programme’s Executive Board, to plan the first event.

Support and mentoring for scholars

Alongside the events, the scholarship provides the opportunity to receive support and mentoring from inspiring female leaders.

“I have been inspired by many different women in my career so far and I’m sure the Scholarship will introduce me to many more.  There are brilliant female judges and lawyers that I look up to and who inspire me to be better at my job every day.  Equally, there are a number of wise women in my life who are generous in sharing their wisdom and experience.  Some are strong women within my family with incredible life stories like my late grandmothers and others are those who I have been fortunate enough to meet on my journey so far.”

Before applying to Cass, Artis attended an open evening where she had the opportunity to speak to academic staff, as well as current students and alumni.

“Cass had several strengths which stood out immediately,” she says.  “It has an outstanding academic and professional reputation and is the top MBA for corporate strategy.  There is a good gender balance, with multiple nationalities and a diverse range of industries represented within the student cohort.”

Artis was also drawn to the compulsory International Consulting Week – where students work alongside startups and multinational companies in countries including Iceland, Vietnam and Chile, to create recommendations for their business challenges.

“It demonstrated to me that Cass has a strong commitment to lasting global impact and is keen to support entrepreneurs in emerging economies,” she says.

Future plans

Artis says after she graduates she anticipates she will be able to take on more management responsibility, creating policy and improving the profile of public sector legal services, in the process.

“It is particularly important to me to raise the profile of public sector legal services because of the important work that is done by social workers and child protection lawyers to achieve better outcomes for children at risk and their families. They are very hard-working people whose efforts are often unrecognised.”

In the long-term, Artis aims to start her own law firm, specialising in children’s law.

“This will involve business development; formulating a business and marketing strategy; monitoring compliance with regulatory bodies; recruitment and mentoring of lawyers – all topics that I will have covered in my EMBA.  I want to contribute more to the wider community by ensuring greater access to justice- the very reason I became a barrister.”

Further Coca-Cola Cass Global Women’s Leadership scholarship recipients will be announced shortly.

Find out more about studying for an MBA at Cass here.