Funke Abimbola MBE

General Counsel & Head of Financial Compliance, Roche UK

Biography

Funke is a solicitor and senior leader for Roche, the world’s largest biotech company. She leads the legal, corporate and financial compliance functions for Roche’s pharmaceutical operations in the UK. Her team also provides legal support to Ireland, Malta and Gibraltar.

She is currently the most senior black lawyer working within the UK’s pharmaceutical industry and one of the most senior globally. She has been recognised by the Financial Times as being one of the top 15 BAME (Black and Minority Ethnic) leaders across the UK, Ireland, US and Canada, ranked as being one of the top 100 leaders of African/Afro-Caribbean heritage (Powerful Media’s 2017 Powerlist) and listed as being the most influential black lawyer in Britain (Debretts 500 List for 2017).

A multi award winning solicitor and diversity leader, she has received both national and international recognition for her legal and diversity work from the Association of Women Solicitors, the Law Society, the National Diversity Awards and the European Diversity Awards amongst other organisations.

She is a popular and experienced public speaker, speaking regularly about her personal journey to large audiences ranging from school children to senior professionals. She holds a number of board-level voluntary leadership roles across a range of different diversity organisations and initiatives. In 2015, she founded Women Leaders in Life Sciences Law, a network supporting the international pipeline of female legal talent within the life sciences sector. She is a Committee member of a House of Lords-based diversity recruitment drive and is also part of the BBC’s volunteer team of world news reviewers, appearing regularly on BBC1 and BBC World News to an audience of 320 million viewers.

Funke is a proud working mother to a teenaged son, juggling the demands of career and home. An expert mentor and sponsor, she is passionate about the law, diversity, education and healthcare, is a regular media commentator, a keen fundraiser for various charities (including Cancer Research UK) and has twice served as school governor and as a board director. She founded the Akindolie Medical Scholarship in April 2016 in memory of her father, Dr. Frank Olufemi Akindolie. This is a privately funded bursary and leadership mentoring initiative aimed at supporting future doctors from a minority ethnic background.

Funke was honoured with a ‘Point of Light’ award by the UK Prime Minister and the UK Cabinet Office for outstanding voluntary work in October 2016, recognizing the positive impact of her voluntary diversity work in improving workplace diversity and supporting the next generation.

In June 2017, she was awarded the MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) in the Queen’s 91st birthday honours list for 2017, for services to diversity in the legal profession and young people.

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