Anis Islam's story

4 April 2023

Anis Islam was born in London, specifically in Tower Hamlets, an area known for its strong Bengali community. His parents migrated from Bangladesh to the UK and built careers in London, actively supporting the local community. Anis' father worked as a youth worker, while his mother served as a childminder. 

Growing up in such an environment had a significant impact on mine and my sister’s careers, who is now a social worker and I work in youth skills policy.

Anis attended school in East London/Essex and performed well throughout his compulsory education. Subsequently, he enrolled at Queen Mary, where he pursued a degree in Geography. 

In 2015, during his fresher's year at the university, Anis discovered UpRising, an organization that offered a bespoke London Leadership Programme. At just 18 years old, he became the youngest participant in his cohort. Initially, Anis didn't fully grasp the importance of the networks he would build through the program, but in retrospect, he realizes their immense value.

I felt at awe with all of the attendees, maybe because I was the youngest and often a lot of them were working in these amazing places or had super careers.

During the UpRising program, Anis engaged in various workshops and seminars, delving into leadership theory and practice. He had the opportunity to develop skills in leading teams, self-presentation, and idea generation. Looking back, Anis describes his time with UpRising as an immensely enjoyable experience. The program provided him with the chance to meet like-minded young people and grow together:

I would say UpRising is like a buffet, you can come in and everyone will take something different out of it, you can always experiment and there are different flavours and explosions of experiences.

After completing the program, Anis continued his studies and graduated with a 2:1 degree in Geography in 2018. He then pursued a Masters in International Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies. Currently, Anis is pursuing a part-time degree in Law at BPP Law school with the aim of pursuing a PhD in Tech Human Rights Law.

Following his Masters, Anis secured a graduate role at Metro Bank, where he worked on financial crime, high-value transactions, and customer relations. However, reflecting on the values and leadership aspirations he developed through UpRising, Anis decided to leave the corporate world to work for a not-for-profit organization that aligned better with his principles and ambitions for creating positive change. He joined the Fulbright Commission, a US-based government agency supporting young people with scholarships and funding for studying opportunities in the USA. During his time there, Anis worked on the Sutton Trust programme, an exchange initiative enabling 200 students from the UK to experience higher education in the USA. Anis found great fulfilment in supporting other young people with their applications for US scholarships.

UpRising felt like a sand box where you could go into a place and get things wrong or ask a silly question and it’s fine, it’s not the end of the world.

After nearly a year in his role at the Fulbright Commission, Anis landed a position in the Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport through the Fast Stream application process. He was later promoted to Senior Policy Advisor for Cybersecurity skills at the now Department for Science, Innovation, and Technology. In this role, he works on education policy related to computer science and manages the interface with the Department for Education, aiming to drive positive change in the field. One of his significant projects involved a school's program called Cyber Explorers, an online gamified platform where students can learn about potential cyber careers, cybercrimes, and online safety.

Anis credits UpRising as a crucial part of his leadership journey, citing the skills and networks he developed during the program. He maintains close connections with other young people he met through UpRising and, alongside his government work, holds the position of Head of Politics for Think It Possible, a social enterprise founded by another UpRising alumnus.