Speaking for Ourselves

Laura: 'I'm happy to say I'm a migrant'

Laura: 'I'm happy to say I'm a migrant'

Judith Vonberg

 Migrant Voice -
 Migrant Voice - Laura: 'I'm happy to say I'm a migrant'

Despite the regular vilification of migrants in the British media, Laura Timm is unafraid to embrace the label.

“I’m happy to say I’m a migrant," says the 32-year-old Estonian who moved to London eight years ago. "It comes from inner confidence, because I know that I’m here to add value … personally and in the business field as well.”

“I’m very blessed to have that inner confidence,” she admits.

She’s now a London-based business consultant and motivational speaker. She lives with her partner and her cat a few minutes walk from the Houses of Parliament.

She credits her success to several factors: hard work, a deep-seated fear of regret and a mother who told her that anything was possible.

“My mum was always very encouraging,” says Laura. “If I wanted to play sports like football and basketball, which I did in school, she’d say, ‘If you want to do that, go for it.’ 

“If I wanted to do something girly, like dancing or acting, she would encourage me. She would never tell me there was anything I couldn’t do.”

Timm recalls that her ambitions crystallised when she was 12. 

“I’ll always remember the day. I was in school and I remember looking around me and thinking that the only difference between me and the other kids in school is that I believe 200 per cent that I’m going to be living an international life, I’m going to be travelling, and I can become anything that I want.

“I’m all about developing yourself and doing what’s impossible so it becomes possible for others,” explains Timm, whose biggest fear has always been regret. 

“I didn’t want to wake up one day in my 40s, 50s, 60s and think, ‘Oh my god, I had potential but I never really made anything of myself.’”

After leaving school she threw herself into working life. Often holding down several jobs at a time, she worked in a construction warehouse, in hospitality and retail, IT and admin. 

She loved the challenges that came with each new role, and always embraced the opportunity to acquire skills and become good at something new.

But “I always knew I wanted to live in London. I knew I could learn from so many different people and cultures. I found that fascinating.”

In 2010 she took the plunge because she knew she would regret it if she hesitated much longer. 

One friend offered her a place to stay and another helped her find a job. Within a week, she was working.

It wasn’t all plain sailing. 

“When I was in Estonia, I thought my English was really good,” she explains. “When I moved over, the first three to four months, I found myself struggling and doubting the level of my English, because everyone was talking so super fast.”

But her language skills quickly improved, which she attributes to a willingness to put herself out there.

She has since met many migrants – including many women – who struggle to succeed in the UK because their English isn’t good enough, or they lack the confidence to try.

Her advice: go out and speak to as many different people as possible, try to forget that it’s a second language, and remember that most people will just be glad you’re making the effort.

Timm has made it her goal in business and in life to advise people on how to succeed – and to motivate them to take the right path.

Whether it’s inspirational lectures for business owners or students, or consultancy work for small business owners or entrepreneurs, she is always trying to help people recognise their strengths and fulfil their potential.

“It’s beautiful being able to help people like that,” she says. “I believe everyone has potential – it just needs developing.”

Having often worked in male-dominated industries, she says she recognises the particular struggles women can face and is now a fierce advocate of Global Women, a platform empowering women in business around the world, and runs the monthly network meeting in Los Angeles.

As a migrant, Timm is also aware of the particular struggles faced by newcomers to London. She says her success is down to her self-belief and an ability to turn negative experiences into “opportunities … to learn and grow”. 

Is she fearful about her post-Brexit future?

“The world is changing and I will find a way,” she says. “That’s the best thing we can all do, just find a way. I believe I will make the best of the situation.”