Tell us a little bit about you and your career journey so far:

Mohima: I am a class of 2020 graduate from the MLaw degree at Northumbria University, with First Class Honours. During university, I was involved with the student and wider community and had held multiple society leadership positions as President, Secretary and Advisor. My proudest work has to be when I was President of Women Breaking Barriers Network (WBBN), helping to encourage students in their personal and professional lives, instilling confidence in their abilities and providing a network of like-minded people to connect with.

As an aspiring solicitor, I hope to obtain a training contract with a law firm in the near future. I am at the beginning of my career journey and I am about to start my legal career with Document Risk Solutions (DRS) as a Legal Consultant working for Tier 1 banks. In addition to my voluntary work with The Common Room, I also hold a position with Newcastle Legal Hackers where we explore the most pressing issues at the intersection of law and technology.

Ryan: I’m a solicitor at Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP specialising in transactional advice on construction and engineering contracts. After graduating from Exeter University, I spent around six years working in various paralegal roles and as a trainee solicitor before qualifying.

Because I know how tough this industry can be, I signed up to be a mentor for The Social Mobility Foundation outside of work, helping A-Level and university students who have no prior relationship with the legal profession get the information they need to inform their career choices.

Do you have any special interests or passions? Any hobbies we should know about?

Mohima: I’m quite a creative person and have a keen interest in photography. In the past, I have explored and tested my skills by doing some commercial photography for some local businesses. My love for photography goes hand-in-hand with architecture, and I love capturing photographs of unique buildings – needless to say I can’t wait to see the completed renovation work at The Common Room! I’m also an avid baker and enjoy making a good cake (as well as eating it)!

Ryan: I’m a big sports fan – I play basketball for a local team in Newcastle and haven’t hung up my football boots yet for the odd game of 5-a-side. I watch a lot of films (particularly sci-fi and horrors with the more practical effects the better) and really enjoy story-driven video games which are really pushing the medium into becoming more artistic and innovative.


Ryan Lavers (left) and Mohima Khan (right)

What attracted you to take a position on the Youth Board?

Mohima: The mission of The Common Room, ‘to use our unique heritage to inspire the next generation of innovators and engineers’ really resonated with me. I’m passionate about encouraging people to be the best version of themselves and helping to inspire them to achieve personal goals. At university, I co-hosted a Women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) conference as part of my presidential work with WBBN, so I have always been an advocate of helping others with their career paths and providing an insight into the industry. The Common Room’s outreach and educational programmes are right up my street and I feel that it’s very important that we do what we can to help young minds experience what STEM has to offer.

Ryan: I want to help shape change in the STEM sector in the North East. I believe STEM subjects should be considered more broadly at an earlier age and pupils should be encouraged to get more involved where they want to learn more, and I think the region in general could benefit more from having a greater understanding of our industrial heritage and innovative future. I whole heartedly believe in the principles of The Common Room and being part of the Youth Board means I get to play a part in shaping some of this change. 

What are the need-to-knows about The Common Room?

Mohima: The Common Room is a historical treasure. It has one of the largest collections on mining engineering in the world. It’s a location that has been instrumental to our local history, and beyond. The archives most definitely should be used for learning – so do come and visit the site!

Ryan: Mainly how brilliant a resource The Common Room is! The building itself is beautiful and I would strongly recommend people come and visit it to see the wonderful refurbishment that has taken place. It’s a great platform for The Common Room to take off from and it is set to be a central venue in which people can come and learn more about the areas that they are curious about.

What are you hoping to bring to your roles as co-chairs?

Mohima: Alongside Ryan, I hope to bring more structure and guidance to the way we operate as a collective Youth Board. I hope to bring a perspective surrounding representation and the need to encourage more women and people from minority ethnic backgrounds to our programmes. I also want to encourage people from diverse backgrounds to take up more leadership positions in causes they are passionate about. Representation and diversity of thought is important and I aim to contribute the collective views of the Youth Board to the main board to help The Common Room achieve its goals, challenge any boundaries and to ensure we are maximising and utilising our resources the best we can.

Ryan: As one of the inaugural co-chairs of the Youth Board along with Mohima, I’m hoping I can represent the views of our group to the main board of trustees with the aim of working together in advancing The Common Room’s main goals. I’m looking to bring a dedication to the role and to establish a framework of working practices that will help set us up for ongoing future success.

What do the next 6-12 months look like for the team? 

Mohima: We have a fantastic range of events planned for 2021 and to kick-start it all is the Opening Festival – so keep your eyes peeled! The next few months for the Youth Board will consist of some governance training and more advisory Youth Board meetings to support the delivery of the core programmes.

Ryan: With the great team of individuals already appointed to the Youth Board, our main aim is in getting The Common Room up and running and assisting with our launch events spread out across the rest of 2021. There are some amazing things planned already in a number of different areas and I can’t wait to see them come to life – the future is definitely bright!

Why STEM and why the North East?

Mohima: The STEM industries are on the lookout for bright innovative young minds. The North East is moving at a great pace, with plans to create 100,000 jobs by 2024 in STEM disciplines. There is great access to local universities to study in the North East and a variety of businesses to move into; it’s a great location to live and work in for young people to enter into the employment market, especially in the STEM industries.

Ryan: Having moved to the North East myself in 2016, I knew exactly what the region had to offer in terms of its fantastic history and brilliant opportunities for growth. STEM subjects are often at the cutting edge of advancement in society, and the North East is home to many businesses who have made it their mission to create a future benefitting as many people as possible.

I was recently involved in organising my firm’s annual Innovation Week and in 2018, helped with the firm’s involvement in The Great Exhibition of the North. I’ve also had the pleasure of experiencing first-hand, some of the local enterprises that have undertaken pioneering research into areas like artificial intelligence, eco-friendly transport, and medical science. Young people in the North East from all backgrounds should feel empowered to follow their dreams of careers in STEM subjects, and The Common Room and the Youth Board aim to do just that.