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Diversity Travel founder tops BAME global leaders list

Harish Sodha
Harish Sodha, executive chairman of specialist Diversity Travel, has ranked 14th in the Upstanding 100 Executive Power List, which celebrates the work of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) business leaders.  
Led by executive search firm Audeliss, the UPstanding Executive Power List is the first to unite business leaders from across all BAME communities, showcasing the Top 100 executive BAME professionals in the US, UK and Ireland.

The initiative is part of a wider campaign to shine a light on BAME business leaders who have had an impact on the business world and achieved great success. Its aim is to champion those with a passion for driving the BAME agenda forward and has been designed to highlight role models to inspire the BAME leaders of tomorrow.  

Diversity Travel is a travel management company which specialises in charity, not-for-profit and academic travel. The company was founded by Harish who, as a refugee himself, left his career in finance to embark on a career that would pioneer the way charities could achieve their goals in the most cost effective way.  

His knowledge, experience and understanding of the particular challenges faced by organisations within these sectors led to Diversity Travel offering bespoke travel solutions at discounted rates. Harish was instrumental in the creation of the UK’s first charity air fares with major international airlines and continues to negotiate enhancements to these arrangements to provide the best value for Diversity Travel’s clients.  

Harish, 63, who ranked 8th of all UK-based executives on the UPstanding Executive Power List, said: “As I was growing up in Uganda I realised there was a feeling of Indophobia as Asian people  dominated the commercial sector, even though they were a minority. When Idi Amin came to power he exploited it to win popularity and then eventually expelled the Asian community in September 72.  

“When I first started in business, there was no investment or seed funding and I had to use my own money from savings built up over time.  

“I think entrepreneurism is something that comes more easily to those that have been displaced as they are driven to make money to support themselves and their families. I’m very humbled to be included in the UPstanding Executive Power List and it has been the highlight of what has, at times, been a career that has had to overcome many challenges.”  

Suki Sandhu, CEO Audeliss and co-founder UPstanding said, “There is a diversity deficit at the very top of organisations in both the UK and the US. We whole-heartedly believe that making diverse role models visible and celebrating them is the most powerful way to address this as you are demonstrating to the leaders of tomorrow exactly what is possible for minority ethnic groups. The message of this list is that there should be no boundaries or barriers for your potential.”  

Diversity Travel employs 125 people across three offices in London, Manchester and Melbourne. The company serves over 2,000 clients including the Salvation Army, University of Warwick, Wellcome Trust, Save the Children International and the London School of Economics, developing cost effective travel arrangements.

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