I spent my formative years in Ghana until the age of 12 when I moved to the UK. I went to school in Nottingham. It was at sixth form college where I found myself and where I met more diverse people – my school was mainly white. It was strange being surrounded by a sea of white faces when I first moved. It was my first experience of having to assimilate and adapt to a new environment.


Law seemed a good choice for someone who was curious like me. Because my mum, grandpa and many family members are lawyers, I had never felt the law was unattainable and by osmosis I’d benefited from absorbing the legal experience that was around me.

I dropped out of a law and accounting course initially and got a job in marketing. My parents are from Ghana and there is an expectation to get a profession when you have an education, so with gentle persuasion from mother (aka threat of disowning), I went back to studies and completed my legal training.

Before qualifying to be a barrister I did a Master’s in Computing Law. It seemed a good idea as I was pregnant with my second child and didn’t want to be out of the law completely. I wanted to do something that was cutting edge and relevant. IP, privacy and data protection was up and coming at the time.


On qualifying, I had my third child and had set myself up as a consultant advising on IT legal issues. I had a lot of work and was able to be at home, be a mum and self-sufficient. Around that time, my cousin unexpectedly passed away and I became legal guardian to her three children. So now I was juggling six children and a career.

Life and circumstances therefore meant that joining a chambers wasn’t an option for me. I had to feed my family and wanted a secure job. I had the opportunity to work as a privacy lawyer in the risk and compliance team at Linklaters which offered me the job security I needed with my first in-house role. I then moved to GE Capital where I was Global Privacy Counsel and then to Baker McKenzie, as its head of data protection and cybersecurity practice in London.

The GDPR came into force during my time at Bakers. I had a number of clients ask me about the role of an internal data protection officer. Because I had both the client facing and in-house experience, I was in a unique position. I got thinking about the lack of expertise in the market to perform that data protection officer role and what it would require, so I decided to start HewardMills.


The Black Lives Matter movement has allowed an opportunity for reflection – there are a number of experiences I can point to of both micro and macro aggressions. For example, there were times where I went into a meeting as the most senior person but junior colleagues would be addressed because of an inherent assumption that as a black woman I wouldn’t be in the senior position. I have been discouraged from applying for senior positions and have had to work harder for opportunities.

What I took from these experiences was an ability to deal with the imposter syndrome. My survival and ability to remain on top was evidence of my excellence as a practitioner and I have learned to own this truth.