Mo Kanjilal

Mo Kanjilal (English 1993) is Co-Creator at Watch This Sp_ce, a multi-award-winning diversity and inclusion company. She is also a Charity board Trustee, Non-Exec Director and Author.

Headshot of Mo Kanjilal

Image credit: Lauren Pysk

Mo's story

After graduating from Sussex in 1996, Mo worked for international technology corporations creating and leading diverse, inclusive teams. After working in smaller companies on similar initiatives, she co-created Watch This Sp_ce during the pandemic. The company works with organisations across sectors to help them understand why inclusive teams matter, what changes they need to make and how to help people work better together.

Mo also joined us at our Sussex Connect event: Curating your online presence, as an alumni speaker. She discussed her career journey and top tips on how to utilise social media to curate and promote your personal or organisational brand.

What made you choose Sussex?

Most university courses I looked at were quite traditional in the literature that was studied. I had this desire to be more radical. At Sussex, the course focused on Black women writers, writers from the Indian diaspora and it took a wider look at the world. Also, my cousin had studied at Sussex and I knew she had enjoyed her time there.

Mo Kanjilal at Sussex in the 1990s.

Mo at Sussex in the 1990s

What inspired you and your Co-Creator Allegra Chapman to start Watch This Sp_ce in lockdown?

We had both experienced discrimination in the workplace and we were running a community group for women in tech industries, so we knew we were not alone in our experiences. When we went into lockdown, we could see the issues even more clearly. Employers who said roles could not be done from home or flexibly suddenly made it work overnight. People were juggling childcare, not having spaces to work at home and the challenges of learning to work remotely. It showed us so clearly that things needed to change.

We realised early on that many organisations want to work on diversity and inclusion, but they have no idea where to start.”

Can you tell us a little bit about how Watch This Sp_ce helps organisations to work better together to build a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

We realised early on that many organisations want to work on diversity and inclusion, but they have no idea where to start. We help people understand where they are, what actions they can take, what language and terminology they can use, how to engage people and how to take actions to show people that things are changing.

We run training to help people to learn about creating more inclusive workplaces where people can feel they can belong and contribute. There are huge benefits too – diverse, inclusive organisations are more innovative, more productive and people are happier.

You spoke at TedX Brighton about understanding the truth, value and power in our differences. Do you have any advice for anyone who is nervous about public speaking?

Speaking at TedX Brighton was the most incredible experience. I will never forget it.

As a child I was quite shy and awkward. It was drama classes that helped me. For those who are worried about it, I would say you’re definitely not alone! Try speaking at smaller events to start with to gain some confidence and experience.

You’ve volunteered numerous times as a mentor to help empower young women. Why do you think mentoring is so important?

When I was young, I felt like there was no one I could talk to who could help me with different career ideas. That’s why I got involved in mentoring girls aged 14 – 19 to help them to explore what they want to do. It’s a fabulous experience for me too, I learn so much from them. It’s so important that people have someone to talk to. I was mentored when I worked in a corporate role, and it helped me so much to explore ideas. I am still in touch with my mentor.

Don’t see LinkedIn as a ‘broadcast only’ channel, it’s about commenting on other people’s posts too and showing interest in the things people are saying.”

How did you first become involved with The Clock Tower Sanctuary in Brighton? Can you tell us a little about your role with them?

The now-CEO of The Clock Tower Sanctuary asked me if I had thought about it. I found out more, and decided it was something I wanted to do. I looked for a charity that helps young people. I had fundraised for The Clock Tower Sanctuary before that, so I knew about the charity and all the positive work done to support young people experiencing homelessness. I learn so much from doing this and get to meet all sorts of fabulous people.

You’re highlighted as a Top Public Speaking Voice on LinkedIn. How do you use your LinkedIn to maximise your online presence?

We started Watch This Sp_ce during lockdown, so we have always maximised ways of working online. LinkedIn has led to so many opportunities for me. It’s about connecting and then engaging with people. Don’t see LinkedIn as a ‘broadcast only’ channel, it’s about commenting on other people’s posts too and showing interest in the things people are saying.

Favourite place in the world?

Brighton of course! I’ve lived here ever since studying at Sussex.

Mo Kanjilal lying on the grass with friends at Sussex in the 1990s.

Soundtrack to your time at Sussex?

Gangsta’s Paradise by Coolio or Groove Is In The Heart by Deee-Lite.

What top tips would you give to current students and recent graduates looking to increase their LinkedIn presence?

Use a good photo of yourself, fill in all the sections and then start connecting with people and engaging with their content. It’s amazing how quickly you can build your network.

Watch This Sp_ce’s first book, The Inclusion Journey, will be published by Kogan Page in August 2024 and is all about the steps to take to create more inclusive workplaces.

Mo is among thousands of inspiring alumni on Sussex Connect. Join now to seek mentoring and industry advice and get a head start on your career.