Tina Fahm is an expert in governance, risk and compliance, working across various industry sectors, institutions and parliaments. She has over 30 years’ experience in helping clients to maintain robust governance and assurance frameworks and manage risk effectively. Her work supports private equity and a range of investments across Africa.
Tina has been a Lay Governor at LSE since 2010 and served as a member of Council and Chair of the Audit Committee from 2014 to 2017. Central to her engagement has been support for the school’s equalities agenda and its work on widening participation.
Tell us about your background
I was born in Nigeria and travelled to England on the mail boat MV Apapa in March 1966 with my mother and brothers to join my father who was studying for his Bar Finals. We arrived during the era of No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish and I will never forget the racism that we encountered, particularly that metered out to my mother. Prior to leaving Nigeria, my father had been a senior government officer and my mother even had her own car, so life in England came as a shock, particularly the experience of our family of five living in two rooms.
My father was called to the Bar in 1967 and though the plan was for our family to return to Nigeria, this was not possible as the Biafran war had broken out and my parents had received death threats advising them not to return home. It was also a time when the Wind of Change was blowing across Africa so other opportunities appeared and my father was offered employment in the newly independent Zambia, which is where I grew up and spent my formative years.
Being the daughter of a lawyer has had a significant impact on my life. My social conscience developed from a very early age, and with both parents being politically active I grew up with a strong drive for social justice, hence engagement in public life came naturally to me. I became a school governor in my early twenties because of the concerns I had that local education policy was failing children from BME (black and minority ethnic) backgrounds.
This led to other roles: becoming a magistrate at the age of 33; a Legal Services Commissioner; member of the Parole Board for England & Wales; Home Secretary’s Representative on the Hertfordshire Police Authority; Lay Assessor for the General Medical Council’s Fitness to Practice division; and non-executive director at the City and Hackney NHS Trust where I chaired a number of public inquiries into patient deaths. I also served on the boards of charitable organisations concerned with social housing, gender equality and the interests of people with learning disabilities. I continue to support women and young people through mentoring.
Tell us about your career
Governance, risk management and compliance has been at the heart of my career for the last 33 years. I take a keen interest in matters relating to public accountability and regard good governance as a dynamic framework encompassing leadership culture standards of conduct risk management internal controls and democratic accountability in decision making involving stakeholders. I believe that it is a key determinate of organisational effectiveness and the quality of services provided. My passion for this area of work remains as strong as ever and applies equally to my latest appointment as a commissioner at the Independent Commission for Aid Impact.
Currently I maintain a portfolio career. Following the birth of my daughter I found it impossible to secure senior level job openings that were both flexible and intellectually stimulating. I created my own portfolio of work by combining non-executive and consulting roles. Though this arrangement provided the flexibility that I desired, it was tough constantly juggling commitments and working without the benefits a full-time job would have provided me with.
But having chosen the option of a portfolio career, I’ve no regrets. It has brought me a wealth of opportunities, and to a large extent I have been mistress of my own fate without anyone putting barriers in my way or determining how far I could go in life.
What are you most proud of, both inside and outside of your time at LSE?
Regarding achievements during my time at LSE, two things come to mind that I am particularly proud of. The first was an opportunity to play a small role in supporting the creation of LSE Power, a staff network for women in professional services and secondly, being able to improve the effectiveness of the Audit Committee by reducing its size, introducing refresher training for members and ensuring greater focus on the school’s risk management and reporting arrangements.
The opportunity to serve on the board of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) has made the most significant impact on my career to date. This was where I was introduced to international development and found that I could make a contribution on a number of fronts, simply by just being myself. This included supporting civil society in Sierra Leone immediately after the civil war, working with parliamentarians in Ukraine and Nigeria on ways to strengthen scrutiny and financial oversight, and supporting the development of women leaders in the political process in Morocco, Iraq and DRC. Clearly my early life had served as preparation for what lay ahead.
Tina was nominated by Veronique Mizgailo, who said:
I find her incredibly inspiring. The work she has done to encourage women into leadership, and the job she is doing at DFID, show that you can make your working life reflect your values. She also shows that being a single mum isn’t necessarily the bar we’re often told it is. She is a real advocate for women in leadership, and has been a fantastic friend to LSE Power.
LSE Court of Governors
Independent Commission for Aid Impact
Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD)