Inspirational speakers lined up for women in leadership programme

A social mobility champion will be one of the key speakers when University Centre Leeds turns a spotlight on women in leadership.

The university centre will launch a six week programme of events, focused on encouraging female students – including Level 3 Access to Law course students – to aim for the very top, on Thursday 3 February.

A meet and greet coffee morning, featuring a question and answer session with a panel of women in leadership roles, will kick things off.

That will be followed by a series of workshops, each hosted by guest speakers who are leaders in their fields, focusing on topics including confidence, imposter syndrome and personal branding.

An inspiring line-up to boost self-belief

Among the visitors will be Carole Lovstrom, a leading civil servant with her own inspirational life story to tell, who was awarded an MBE in 2020 in recognition of her services to Social Mobility in Government.

Deputy Head of Business at University Centre Leeds, Sarah Cook, is looking forward to seeing the impact of such speakers on the students.

She said: “We are excited to have put together such a strong line-up of speakers, events and participating businesses.

“We offer Leadership and Business degrees but had been experiencing lower numbers of women on the courses, so we started our Women in Leadership programme, in 2019, to address that.

“The programme promotes our courses to women and helps them realise their full potential, while also tackling the legacy imbalance of women in leadership roles and helping women realise they are equally capable of excelling.

“Many of our female students had told us that they lacked the necessary confidence and self-belief, so we also wanted to address that.

“We know the programme makes a difference because past participants, who attended elevator sessions to promote themselves to employers and visited workplaces to see female leaders in action, have told us about their positive experiences.”

Shining a light on opportunities

Ms Lovstrom, who works in the Department for Transport and is Head of Ministerial Briefing & Public Affairs, will give a presentation on the civil service and how to engage with employers.

Her drive to help people from tougher backgrounds find career and educational opportunities comes from her own upbringing.

She said: “My goal is to continue to reach out to people who might be struggling to find opportunities.

“I’m particularly keen on promoting the diversity and social mobility agendas as I was that 15-year-old growing up on a council estate, with a mother who said I could do anything – and an environment that just didn’t support that.”

Mentoring support and workplace visits 

Representatives from local businesses, including Ernst & Young, RSM, and the university centre’s parent organisation, Luminate Education Group, are among those taking part in Women in Leadership.

A local GP, Nipa Miah, will also talk about how she managed to overcome family opposition to pursue her education and career choices.

The programme includes trips to workplaces and a chance – covid restrictions pending –  for some students to visit the Department for Transport in Westminster in March, where they will be given a guided tour.

The six week event will be rounded off, on Thursday 17 March, by a celebration session and a talk from Smart Work Leeds about mentoring and volunteering opportunities.

The charity – which helps women get back into work – will also be offering support to students, including through interview coaching, which will continue until they secure full-time employment.

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