Birmingham Success School 2013

Where: Spring Educational Society, 4 Vicarage Road, B15 3ES
Date: March 2013
Time: 18:15


Success School Birmingham
Click here for full-size poster


  • 8 March, Shabana Mahmood, Birmingham MP
  • 14 March, Robert Kelsey, Author of 'What’s Stopping You?'
  • 22 March, Serena Bradshaw, Performance Coach
  • 28 March, Abigail Kelly, Soprano


About the Success School

The Birmingham Dialogue Society Success School is a four-week programme of evening seminars intended to help inspire, encourage and equip young people to aspire to and work towards success.

Participants will hear the inspirational stories of a range of successful professionals in a friendly and interactive environment. The School will establish an ongoing network through which participants, staff and speakers can share ideas and opportunities. Students who have attended for at least three of the sessions will be given certificates. Click here for further information and poster.

Who’s it For?

The School is primarily intended for young people of 16-21 years of age, and the Dialogue Society will initially advertise within Birmingham. We hope to welcome participants from a range of cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

Biography of Shabana Mahmood

Shabana Mahmood MP was born (17 September 1980) and brought up in Small Heath, Birmingham. Between 1981 and 1986 she lived with her family in Taif, Saudi Arabia, as her father relocated there to work as a civil engineer. When the family returned home to Birmingham, she was educated locally within Birmingham Ladywood constituency, at Small Heath School. She went on to study at the University of Oxford (Lincoln College) and graduated with a BA (Hons) degree in Law. During her time at Oxford, she was elected JCR President and she was awarded the Ashurst Morris Crisp Prize for Best Performance in the Lawyer’s Ethics finals examination by the University.

After University, Shabana completed the Bar Vocational Course at the Inns Of Court School of Law, having been awarded a scholarship by Gray’s Inn. She completed her pupillage at 12 King’s Bench Walk chambers in London, after which she practised as an Employed Barrister, specialising in professional indemnity litigation. Shabana is an experienced litigator and has acted in several high value and complex cases.

Shabana was elected Member of Parliament for Birmingham Ladywood constituency on 6 May 2010, with a majority of 10,105. She made history in becoming one of the first Muslim women, and one of the first Asian women, to be elected to Parliament.

In 2010, Shabana was promoted to the Shadow Home Office Team as a Junior Minister and more recently became the Shadow Minister for Higher Education.

Biography of Robert Kelsey

Robert Kelsey is author of What’s Stopping You: Why Smart People Don’t Always Reach Their Potential and How You Can? the bestselling book on fear of failure and other career-limiting insecurities. Published in April 2011, it remained WH Smith’s number one business book for nine months.

Prior to writing the book, Robert was a financial journalist turned City banker turned entrepreneur. Currently he is the founder and CEO of Moorgate Communications financial PR agency. He was also previously an author – publishing his first book, The Pursuit of Happiness (a “lad-lit” comedy on his life as an English banker in New York) in 2000.

Yet Robert calls himself a practitioner in failure after a childhood and early-adulthood strewn with academic and career disasters. Determined to find an answer, he became a self-help addict – reading scores of books across the self-help genre.

Robert discovered that his problem wasn't failure but fear of failure. He was a classic High-FF – someone with a high fear of failing – approaching difficult but achievable challenges with a sense of dread regarding the seemingly-inevitable failure that awaited him and, therefore, seeking to avoid the challenge altogether: making his fear of failure self-fulfilling.

Yet, while helpful, the self-help books also promised something they couldn't deliver: a cure. Working with the London Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy, he discovered that, not only was his condition innate, it led him in totally the wrong direction with respect to goal-setting. Once aware of his condition, however, Robert Kelsey also realised that progress is possible as long as we take account of the fears that drive our insecurities, accept them as part of us, and find a way of navigating these self-constructed mental hurdles. What’s Stopping You? is the result.

Biography of Serena Bradshaw

Serena Bradshaw is a social entrepreneur and founding director of Goddard Consultants—an organisation specializing in coaching and training. Serena is particularly inspired and motivated by the people she helps and who transform their lives in spite of multiple barriers. Overcoming drug and alcohol abuse, severe and enduring mental illness, disability, learning difficulties—or living in some of the country’s most disadvantaged communities.

“I often ask people who come to my workshops what success means to them,” says Serena. “They begin with the rich and the famous—pop stars, actors… then they quickly realize that success is not fixed; that these people face huge challenges in their lives. And crucially they realize that they, too can develop the mindset of these people—motivation, hard work and determination.”

Serena has what she describes as a portfolio career spanning tourism, publishing, marketing and coaching. She is a graduate of Lancaster University, and has worked overseas in the corporate and statutory sectors. She holds an MBA and four years ago she re-trained as a performance coach and trainer. “I re-trained and established Goddard Consultants. Leaving behind job security and a regular income may seem scary, but I certainly know what motivation, hard work and determination are about. I’ve changed the way I think about success. Success is now about fulfillment. Success is about passion and it has to be personal.”

Serena lives in the Derbyshire Dales with her husband Mike and two border collies. They all enjoy exploring the magnificent countryside.

Biography of Abigail Kelly

Abigail Kelly completed her PG Dip in operatic studies at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and completed her BMus degree at Birmingham Conservatoire with first class honours. At the Conservatoire she was awarded a course scholarship, the Robert Gahan prize for achievement by a singer and the BMus prize. Abigail has also won the Leamington Spa Festival's Rae Woodland opera competition and has received awards from the Black and African Caribbean Young Achiever awards, the Council of Black Led Churches and was awarded the silver medal from the Worshipful Company of Musicians. Abigail has performed with English Touring Opera as Naiad/Rusalka, Cobweb/A Midsummer Night's Dream, Bridesmaid/The Marriage of Figaro, cover Barbarina/The Marriage of Figaro, Pennie Fox/Fantastic Mr Fox, cover Nella/Gianni Schicchi. Internationally, Abigail has also toured internationally performing as a featured artist with Opera South Africa and the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra at the Capital Arts Festival at the South Africa State Theatre. She has performed in Jamaica, Montserrat, Grand Cayman, Luxembourg and toured Germany as part of the Arianna Consort. A proud Birmingham girl, Abigail performed at Birmingham’s first commemoration of Emancipation day and at the 2012 Birmingham Symphony Hall celebrations of Jamaica’s 50th anniversary of independence.

Abigail is currently on tour with ETO covering the role of Despina in Mozart’s Così fan tutte. Visit her website at

The Sessions

1. Shabana Mahmood, MP for Birmingham Ladywood

2. Robert Kelsey, Author of 'What’s Stopping You?'

3. Serena Bradshaw, Performance Coach

4. Abigail Kelly, Soprano