Emma Slade

Emma Slade

Author and founding CEO of the charity “Opening Your Heart to Bhutan”

Emma Slade Also known as Ani Pema Deki (born 16 July 1966) a University of Cambridge educated former "high-flying" financial analyst who worked for HSBC in New York, London and Hong Kong, is a British yoga and meditation teacher, an author and founder and CEO of the charity "Opening Your Heart to Bhutan." The charity focuses on helping children in need in the Himalayan kingdom, particularly those in rural areas. It provides access to education, to medical care (including the helping with training of medical practitioners) and supplies basic amenities, including sanitation and transport. Invited to give talks internationally, Slade's appearances as a public speaker have included the Oxford Human Rights Festival in 2018 and a TEDX talk in January 2017. She is the subject of a short film – "Happiness" – that is part of a schools education project set up by the Dalai Lama Centre for Compassion in Oxford. Slade received a Points Of Light Award, conferred by 10 Downing Street, from the British Honorary Consul Michael Rutland OBE and Lyonpo Damcho Dorji, Bhutan's Minister for Foreign Affairs, in January 2017. The ceremony took place at the Draktsho School for Special Children (which is supported by her charity) in the Bhutanese capital, Thimphu. She was also short-listed for the Asian Voice Charity Award for "Most Inspiring Individual in Charity" in January 2018. Having met children who are directly benefiting from Slade's endeavours, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge met with Slade and discussed her work during their 2016 tour of Bhutan. After rigorous training – and unusually for a mother (she has one son, Oscar, born 14 September 2006) – Slade was ordained as a Buddhist nun in Bhutan in February 2014, the first (and as of 2018 still the only) Western woman to have achieved this. Her autobiography, Set Free: A Life-Changing Journey from Banking to Buddhism in Bhutan, published in April 2017, reached the number 1 spot in the Amazon charts in the Religious Biography category and details the role of traumatic events in changing the course of her life. Slade gained one of only two first class honours degrees awarded by Goldsmiths College in Fine Arts in 1993 (the other going to fellow student Steve McQueen). But grief turned her away from a career as an artist/sculptor. It compelled her instead to become a "High-rolling, high-stakes banker" managing "accounts worth upwards of a $billion". After being robbed and held hostage at gunpoint in her Jakarta hotel room by a man also carrying hidden knives, PTSD Post-traumatic stress disorder and a sharpened awareness of the value of life underpinned Slade's eventual decision to leave HSBC, although she returns there by invitation as a motivational speaker.