Sandie Okoro, a prominent lawyer and equal rights activist, was appointed the new chancellor of the University of Birmingham in England. She is the institution’s eighth chancellor since it was established in 1900. She is also the first woman to hold the position.

“I am truly honoured and delighted to be appointed Chancellor,” Okoro said in a press release. “It’s a fantastic opportunity for me to give a little something back to the amazing University that has given so very much to me and my family.”

Okoro has a personal connection to the University of Birmingham: She graduated with a degree in law and politics before enrolling at City, University of London and qualifying as a barrister. Both her mother and her son are also alums.

“The wonderful University of Birmingham is the alma mater to three generations of the Okoros, my mum, me and my son. So my connection to it is very special indeed,” she said in the same press release. “I have followed the University’s outstanding progress very closely since my days there as a student on a full grant back in the 1980s – its dedication to impactful research, its focus on creating an inclusive environment for talented, minority students and educational excellence are themes very close to my heart.”

Okoro currently serves as group general counsel of Standard Chartered, where she heads the bank’s Legal, Group Corporate Secretariat and Shared Investigative Services functions. She has also held positions such as Head of Legal for Corporate Services at Schroders or Vice-President for Compliance for the World Bank Group.

She was recently appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 2024 New Year Honours for her services to Diversity in International Finance. Okoro also received the 2019 Vanguard Women Award from Howard University for her commitment to advancing the rights of women and girls internationally.

“We are excited to welcome Sandie as our new Chancellor,” Adam Tickell, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Birmingham, said in a press release. “She is a highly respected trailblazer in the corporate legal sector and is of course a proud University of Birmingham graduate. To hear her talk about breaking glass ceilings and aiming high is inspirational and reflects the attitude and passion of our university and our commitment to championing equality, diversity and inclusion.”

Okoro will succeed Lord Bilimoria of Chelsea CBE, who is expected to step down as Chancellor this month after occupying the position for 10 years.