Episode 32 – Saj Zafar

Inspiring Women Leaders

Episode 32 – Saj Zafar

August 2, 2023

Episode 32 – Saj Zafar

Saj Zafar is a Leadership Trainer, Motivational Speaker, Author and an accredited Personal and Professional Development Coach. She is also the founder of ‘Institute for Change’, a specialist training and coaching consultancy which primarily focuses on helping organisations create inclusive cultures.

Having spent a lifetime overcoming barriers, defying many gender roles and stereotypes, and achieving many firsts, Saj delivers her training and coaching programs to a diverse range of organisations, specialising in helping and supporting senior leaders to get the best out of their workforce.

Qualifying in Social Work and graduating in Forensic Psychology, it is no surprise that at the tender age of 24 Saj ended up in prison. One of her ‘claims to fame’ is being the first and youngest Asian female to join the Prison Service as a Prison Governor. Not surprisingly, the very things that helped catapult her to success (young, Asian and female), became her challenges as she strived to thrive in a predominantly white male environment.

Her ‘can do’ mind set, attitude, and resilience, led her to spend the next 20 years working in challenging areas in both local and central government. Setting up the first therapeutic unit for young sex offenders in the UK, leading on transformational change programs in failing institutions, working for the Prison and Probation Ombudsman, Prison Reform, and Public Protection, led her to build an exemplary reputation in strategic leadership working effectively with senior leadership teams, including Ministers and senior officials in both local and central governments. It is these credentials that led to her appointment as the Ministerial Engagement Lead for Grenfell and subsequently the Wind Rush Program.

She is a renowned authority in Leadership Development & Organisational Change. She has a professional credibility with a proven track record of leading, shaping and influencing large, complex change programmes within regulated environments. It is her ability to create safe psychological spaces and have candid and courageous conversations, that has made her the ‘go to’ person for gender and race equality. Saj uses her experiences and weaves these into her training/coaching/mentoring to make learning interesting, impactful and of value for the participants.

Her own experience of working in ‘all male’ environments as the only female leader and managing those relationships, regardless of the treatment she received, has made her one of the leaders in helping organisations change the demographics of the top tier.

In this episode, Saj and I chat about:

  • Her leadership roles 
  • Her leadership style 
  • Her leadership journey 
  • The leaders that helped her rise 
  • The challenges she faced on her journey 
  • How she navigated those challenges 
  • How she thinks you can become a strong and kind leader 
  • Her ‘take home’ leadership messages for the listeners, and 
  • What she is currently excited to be working on.

Saj can be found and/or contacted via the following online platform addresses:


Please reach out to Dr Harrison for individual coaching and/or organisational training via [email protected].

His web address and social media profile links / handles include:


He has co-written a new online course entitled ‘How to be Assertive, Maintain Boundaries, and Say “No!”‘ which can be accessed instantly here for only £55/$70:

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