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Fiorina Fortunato

Fiorina Fortunato

Founder and Director, Fortunato Solutions

LLB, 1999

What made you choose Middlesex University?

When I looked into possible places to do my undergraduate degree, I was impressed by Middlesex because it had a lot of facilities for overseas students. I came from Gibraltar and the university was very helpful with accommodation, which was a really important aspect for me and my family.  I had heard about Middlesex from other students from Gibraltar who had attended and had a positive experience but my main considerations were the strength of the legal course and the facilities for international students.

What attracted you to your course and made you apply?

I wanted to become a lawyer. I decided to do an undergraduate degree to explore the options available to me and later found that my career prospects might be significantly improved if I continued with an LLM, which my time at Middlesex prepared me well for.

What aspects of your course did you enjoy most?

I loved the variety of modules that you could choose from and I found my lecturers particularly approachable, making all my classes enjoyable. Being able to discuss the different aspects of the Law with my classmates and the faculty members enriched my studies immensely.

What is your fondest memory of life at Middlesex?

I have very fond memories of the halls of residence. When I started at Middlesex the halls of residence had just been built. I stayed in one of the sections for international students and absolutely loved the exposure to different cultures which I found increased my cultural intelligence and enhanced my international business skills and cultural communication abilities.

It was phenomenal to come to London and have Middlesex create an opportunity for me to interact with people from diverse backgrounds. I had an immensely enjoyable time. Although I have kept in touch with classmates, I found that I got closest to the people who lived with me in the halls. Students sometimes rush to move to a house to have the experience of living on their own but in my experience; halls of residence offer a fantastic opportunity to mix with all sorts of people from all backgrounds – which is brilliant, especially when you are in your first year.

What one piece of advice would you give to a prospective student interested in studying at Middlesex?

If you are considering the university, learn about the course you are interested in, the modules it offers and explore the area where you campus is located. Make sure you are comfortable with the location as you will be spending a lot of time in the area. For me Hendon was fantastic – it was a safe, quiet and convenient location. Looking back, I think it was a great introduction to London as it was slightly removed from the city's centre but with good connections into it.

How did your course and time at Middlesex help you to get where you are professionally today?

My course at Middlesex provided the basics of my Legal education which in turn allowed me to progress my career. In order to succeed in the legal profession, you have to master the basic principles before you can advance and get on the career ladder. My time at Middlesex prepared me well as it provided me with the building blocks on which I could expand my knowledge and experience.

What made you choose the industry you work in?

Growing up, I was exposed to the legal sector with family working in the industry. I was inspired when I attended a family member's called to the bar, where the person is qualified to be allowed to argue in court on behalf of another. Furthermore, at the time I was applying to university, I was motivated by a friend who was a lawyer, who is now in politics, and we spoke about the profession at length.

How did you get your foot on the career ladder post university and do you have any tips?

When you apply for a legal job, recruiters look to ensure that you have initiative, you are hardworking and committed.

Prior to applying for training contracts I undertook paralegal work at top magic circle firms, Allen & Overy and Norton Rose. I think this sort of experience is very helpful. It is important to think out of the box and always do more than what you are expected to do.

Work experience is critical to securing a training contract. Also, basic things such as grammar and spelling in application forms let some applicants down before even getting close to a first interview. 

It really is a case of studying and working hard; having determination and desire.

What has been your defining career break or highlight to date?

I have a number of highlights within my career including training under a fantastic partner, who was extremely driven and hardworking; working at Magic Circle Firms; qualifying at Davenport Lyons, within their Tier 2 Legal 500 rated property group; heading up a small team at the reputable Lewis Silkin and becoming a Head of Department at a London city firm. I also set up my own company, Fortunato Solutions Ltd, in order to diversify and develop my business acumen, which I absolutely love.

What does the future hold for you?

I intend to continue working in industries I love and have a passion for, such as law and business.

I will be expanding my company, Fortunato Solutions Ltd, and continuing its success. I am simultaneously looking at other business ventures and ideas. My aim is to continue to grow as a person and always be in pursuit of knowledge.

What are the top three career tips you would give to current students and recent graduates?

1. Have faith, desire, plans and persistence.

2. Always be enthusiastic in what you do – if you are going to do something, do it well!

3. Always be humble, open minded and tolerant of other people's race, religion and political opinions.

Remember; Every failure carries with it the seed of an equivalent or greater reward so do not be disheartened if things do not go your way, simply try and try again.

What piece of advice would you give to the 17/18 year old you?

Know that you can achieve anything you put your mind to. Our only limitations are those we set up in our own minds. Remember, you reap what you sow and so be respectful, tolerant, open- minded, caring and good in the way you treat others and reward will come your way.

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