Inspirational Women at Sheffield Hallam


Post by our placement student, Olivia Royston, on the recent International Women’s Day event in the Careers and Employability Centre.

International Women’s Day was such a huge success at Sheffield Hallam this year; it was truly wonderful to see so many inspiring women in one room. The first session consisted of women, in typically male dominated job roles, talking about their success within that company, and how that company strives for equality. It was really interesting to hear from Liz Ledger, from HSBC, about the tremendous steps that HSBC are taking in order to create a more balanced workforce, for example nameless CVs! Liz also gave excellent advice, which I know will have been extremely valuable to the students, on the many challenges that women have to face when juggling a career and home life.


Following on from this was Jennifer Standish from FDM, an international ICT services company. ICT job roles are usually a male dominated workforce, which made Jennifer’s talk about her life at FDM really eye-opening about the changes companies are trying to encourage. Especially, their ‘International Girls in ICT Day’ which they run in hope to encourage girls and young women into ICT through engagement in workshops, debates and ‘smashing the stereotypes’

The final inspirational talk came from a team of women who worked for Enterprise Rent – a -Car. Hearing about their personal career paths was especially inspiring for me as it was clear to see how passionate and successful these women were at effectively balancing their busy lives. A story that stood out in particular, was one women’s personal experience of an interview she had gone for and been successful, against nine other male candidates, whilst eight months pregnant! She successfully relocated her family and went back to work full time after maternity leave whilst her husband became a stay at home dad.

Each one of these speakers contributed so much and built up such a good atmosphere ready for the next event, the Role Model Carousal! This was a great opportunity for the speakers to interact with the students. Each female speaker went round small groups of students sat on tables and discussed anything that was of interest and was able to chat about each other’s career goals and skills. This was an invaluable experience for students to open up and talk about their successes as well as inspiring each other at the same time.


My favourite part of the day was reading about and speaking to students who have been nominated by members of staff as inspirational students. I think this really put into perspective how much of a difference female students can make in so many aspects of life. To be inspired by these students, as I was, visit this website to find out more about the women Sheffield Hallam are proud to call their students. It was superb to see such a variety of women at the event and I hope they got as much from it as I did as it was such an empowering and successful day. However, I do believe the year that we don’t need to celebrate International Women’s day will be the biggest celebration, as that will be the day we have finally reached equality.

My first week of placement


Olivia, our second year Psychology placement student, has written about her first week with the Careers and Employability Service.

I was lucky enough to begin my placement at an exciting time for the Careers and Employability Centre. Creative Careers Week was full of brilliant opportunities for a variety of students ranging from Fine Art students to Psychology students. There was a wide selection of workshops going on, including help with your CV as well as top tips on how to survive as a freelancer in the creative industry.


The start of the week looked at what it was like working in the creative industry. It was fascinating listening to Jane (from Sheffield Creative Guild)’s personal experience of her journey in the creative arts industry. She talked about the numerous years of a variety of jobs she had been in; some of which lasted two days, others lasting two years. All of which had accumulated numerous skills which had been helpful in focusing on the career she enjoys today in the unpredictable creative industry. Something that I especially enjoyed was listening to NatashaMcGowan talk passionately about the company she cofounded  ‘A Mind Apart’. It sounded like a thoroughly rewarding job for anyone looking for experience in the performing arts whilst working with challenging and inspiring children.

Something that was discussed in almost all of the guest speakers’ talks was how unpredictable job opportunities are in such a competitive industry. This meant that many people pursuing their passion often found themselves in a wide range of jobs in order to fund their true drive. This was demonstrated in Kyle Williams’ talk about how tough it was to break into the performing industry straight from his course at Sheffield Hallam. Common to all of these people’s journeys was their wealth of experience and networks gained from volunteering and other part time jobs which have helped them get to where they are today.


A particularly creative workshop was the Art Therapy talk. It involved learning about what Art Therapy was and we were lucky enough to hear from a current student doing an Art Therapy Masters. She shared her experiences on the placement she was currently on and what she thought the future looked like for her. The workshop even involved students interacting with clay, to demonstrate some of the activities that may occur in an Art Therapy class. This was particularly fun – yet messy!

The talk about being self-employed taught me crucially that someone who is very talented can remain unknown if they don’t create contacts, get themselves out there and to some extent encounter a bit of luck. I found that the best pieces of advice the speakers gave were to be confident and proud of your work and that first impressions mean everything. Always have examples of your work with you, whether that be drawing or jewelry making, as you never know who you’re going to meet.

The talk on ‘Creative Arts, Media festivals and Events’ was really eye opening, If I do half as much in my career as Jonny Douglas has, it would be a pretty big achievement. His current and previous work involved interior designer, his work with ‘Sheffield Soup’, ‘PechaKucha Sheffield’ and ‘Avenues to Zero’. All of which were such big projects and accomplishments. The week ended excellently in the ‘Working behind the scenes in TV, Theatre and Film’ workshop, with over five speakers talking about their own experiences, none two of which were the same, in some of the most exciting jobs in the Creative Industry. We had Richard Knight speak to us, who had been a location set finder for Screen Yorkshire, to people like Debbie Gamble, who is head of wardrobe at the Crucible Theatre!

One day perhaps I will have done something in my career that I can come back to Hallam and talk about to students which will let them know that they are capable of doing what they’re passionate about. My first week of placement was an enjoyable experience, with Creative Careers week being just a small snippet of the many things I got up to; overall it couldn’t have gone better!