Shenaaz Chenia is an experienced professional who began her career in finance and moved from the private sector to become the founding CEO of YouthBuild in the United Kingdom. Prior to her role at YouthBuild, Shenaaz’s previous experience includes 20 years in audit and financial control in the UK, France and South Africa. During her time as Head of Finance for Saint-Gobain’s Southern African region, Shenaaz was well placed to see firsthand the injustices facing youth leaving the education system as well as the good practices the firm had in place to connect the youth to opportunities within construction. This was a turning point in her career and having found her purpose, she moved back to the UK as the Director of Industry and Community Training for the Saint-Gobain, UK and Ireland. Shenaaz was responsible for driving Saint-Gobain’s external training strategy and delivering on its support for skills development in the Construction sector. She led the set up the first community training academy for Saint-Gobain helping young care leavers transform their lives and transition into employment.
Having developed a better understanding of the systemic issues of youth unemployment, the needs of opportunity youth and the policy around the area, Shenaaz recognized the benefits of the YouthBuild programme for the UK and led the successful JPMC pilot in London in partnership with Barnardo’s, Saint-Gobain and Peabody Trust and has ambitions to extend the impact of YouthBuild across the UK.
Reaching across most sectors and forming deep meaningful partnerships with the sole aim of assisting youth into employment and into leadership roles, Shenaaz is adept at joining the dots to ensure that youth are given the best chances to succeed. She leads a strong team in project and program management; coordination of community learning initiatives; partnership development; and facilitation of training programs and processes.
As a valued construction professional and youth employment expert Shenaaz provides insight and expertise on the London Mayors, Skills for London Steering Group as well as the Construction Leadership Council, Skills Work stream, she is a member the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Apprenticeships as well as the Youth Employment Group, a group of UK’s key leaders and experts around youth employment who’s focus is to lead UK’s response to the impacts of the pandemic on the employment prospects of young people.
A Zambian at heart, married with two boys, having had a father that defied cultural norms to educate his daughters, Shenaaz is inspired by the words of Nelson Mandela ‘It always seems Impossible until it’s done’