By Lynne Cadenhead
Lack of diversity is a problem…
Boards are the mind and will of a company, and they perform better when they include the best people coming from a range of backgrounds and perspectives. The boardroom is where all strategic decisions are made, risk overseen and governance applied. Therefore, it’s vital that an effective and balanced board consists of a diverse blend of high-quality individuals bringing a mix of experience, skills and backgrounds to the table.
Women bring specific benefits to companies, yet women still remain woefully under-represented in the board rooms of most UK companies and organisations. At our current rate of change, it’s going to take over 70 years to achieve gender-balanced boards in the UK! This despite the fact that various studies have shown companies with more women on their boards perform better operationally and provide a better return on investment.
The value of your unique perspective…
I remember the first board role I had about 20 yearsago. I turned up, shaking with trepidation, surrounded by some well-known, influential captains of industry, squeaking out answers every time I was asked to comment. After a few meetings, the Chairman took me aside and told me, quite directly but very tactfully, that I wasn’t contributing as much as he thought I would. I replied that I felt quite intimidated by the depth of knowledge and experience of others around the table and I just couldn’t match that. “Mmm,” he said “but you’re not here to be the same as them or say the same things as they say. I brought you on board to be different because you are different.” Continue Reading →
Although most jobs in the near future will require STEM skills, women make up only an estimated 25% of the workforce in Scotland’s STEM industries – Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. One reason for women’s under-representation is that only 27% of women who leave University qualified in a STEM subject, remain in that industry long term.
The pipeline of female talent is notoriously leaky, as a range of planned and unplanned life events interrupt careers, leaving some women unsure how to return.
Equate Scotland has worked across the Scottish STEM landscape for the last ten years, as change agents and experts on increasing women’s representation in STEM. Our latest initiative aims to find that pool of hidden talent and help them restart their STEM careers.
In partnership with Prospect (the trade union for professionals), Equate Scotland has initiated a Women Returners career development programme, funded by the Scottish Government.
The aim is to launch women returning from a career break of two years or more back into STEM employment, through structured development to refresh skills and knowledge and rebuild confidence in a working environment.
Bespoke ongoing support, delivered with our partners, The Open University, includes workshops, online learning, networking events and one-to-one career clinics. The purpose is to identify and build on existing transferable skills. This will enable women to apply for a paid three-month placement with participating employers, to gain on-the-job experience.
The Playlist is finished!!!
You can listen to the playlist for free on Spotify here: http://bit.ly/2oLQULH
What does it sound like?
Listening to certain music can transport you back in time, so we’re building a time machine… errr a playlist. We’re creating the soundtrack of your days as an Edinburgh Napier University student, but we need you to tell us what it sounds like.
What songs got you on the dance-floor, or helped you make it through revision? It doesn’t matter when the song was written or what year you graduated. We want everyone’s favourites.
If you send us your email, we will send you a copy of the finished playlist!
Chrystelle Garcia and Anna Michna met on the first day of their Communications, Advertising and Public Relations course at Edinburgh Napier. They graduated in 2012 and now work together at Caliber, an Edinburgh-based organic marketing agency specialising in integrated SEO, Content, and Social Marketing. They write about their time at Napier, and their work developing a London cycling guide.
Article by Chrystelle and Anna:
We both entered into our course as mature students, which may have been one of the reasons we became good friends so quickly – meeting on the very first day of inductions! Having both had experience in other fields, we chose to study at Napier because it gave us the opportunity to explore our interest in the digital marketing industry and we knew the course would arm us with the essential skills we’d need to work in such a competitive industry.
Now that we’ve been out working in the industry for a few years, it’s easy to look back and see how well our education prepared us. In our course, there was a persuasion and negotiation module that looked at the psychology behind negotiation and client relations. The skills we developed through this module are vital tools we use every day. Another important module was the communication management module. This module saw us work with external clients to develop a complete promotional strategy from start to finish. We learned about time management and teamwork, while employing our client relations skills.
After graduating university in July 2016, my close friend David Harper and I created a letting agency called Cutler & Stag Property Management. Beginning with letting, servicing clients who were dissatisfied with their current agent; we saw a gap in the market to specialise in factoring World Heritage status buildings such as those in the New Town, Old Town and West End. It was clear to me as I finished my degree that I wanted to be my own boss and have my own company. I felt so strongly about it that I didn’t even look at graduate jobs!
Starting the business with my friend has been a fantastic experience. I love that we have ownership and responsibility in terms of decision making, along with the fact that our ideas and input guide the company’s direction.
That’s not to say it’s easy; as the Edinburgh property market is extremely competitive. Having an excellent set of selling points to offer clients ensures you get off to a strong start, enabling us to compete with some big players in the local industry and to recruit customers. Together, David and I are committed to becoming the best property management company in Edinburgh.
How my work placement made me more determined to start my own business:
During my third year at university I undertook a placement at an Edinburgh based investment company and I found this experience to be invaluable, especially as at the time I was fairly sure I wanted a career in the financial sector. Having completed the 48 week placement it was apparent that the financial sector was not suited to my skill set and that I wanted to be my own boss. However, what I did learn was valuable in terms of working to strict timescales, adaptability and how to deal with a broad range of people in a professional capacity.
The best bits about my time at university:
Reflecting on my time at university I found the various methods of analysis and frameworks covered in the entrepreneurship modules useful when it comes to outlining strategies and plans in relation to my own business. The academic staff were also helpful in talking through ideas and instilling the mind-set of critical thinking. To me, one of the most important things I learned was to look beyond my own perspective, to see things from another point of view (usually that of the target market) and then ensuring that the right message is communicated effectively.
Advice for anyone looking to start their business:
If I were to give advice to anyone starting their own business, I would say to spend time researching the market, see what competitors do well and what they do poorly. From there you can develop a competitive advantage in terms of your service offering. Listening to customer feedback is another important input into the constant evolution of a business. I would also say that identifying the accessible resources around you is crucial: family, friends, acquaintances, connections etc., to find the people who are potentially in a position to help and encourage them to pitch in. Finally, I would say being proactive and not letting obstacles or small defeats discourage you from carrying on is key. It’s inevitable that you will have ‘bad days’ in business, but use that to strengthen your resolve to succeed and never lose faith in yourself, your business partner (if you have one) and your business.
BA Business Studies with Entrepreneurship.
As we welcome thousands of both new and familiar faces back to study at Edinburgh Napier for another year, here are some wise words from a few members of the Napier Knights American Football team who graduated in July this year. If you’re still thinking about joining a sports society this semester, these players will convince you that the Napier Knights is more than just a sports team.
Name: Jamie Parker-Hoare
Position: Centre/Offensive Line
Course: Mechanical Engineering
Degree Classification: 2:2
How did your time playing for the Knights influence your time at university?:
By playing for the Knights, I have enjoyed some of the best times of my life and have met a great bunch of guys who will be friends and teammates for many years to come. Three years ago when I started the sport, I learnt a whole new sport which I have come to love and embrace, and have a passionate following for. For that, I have not only Pete Laird, but the entirety of the Knights coaching staff and players for teaching me and allowing me to take part in this fantastic sport. Winning Varsity the last two years have been among the highlights of my University time, along with actually completing my course and getting my degree classification!
How did your time playing for the Knights influence your time at university?:
It has had a big impact on the social aspect of my time spent at university. I have met a lot of great people through the sport, as well as been presented with lot of opportunities. One of them was playing a game in front of a sizeable crowd at the Varsity game against Edinburgh University Predators. It’s an unforgettable experience when two thousand people are watching, yet everything is silent but the breath of the man you are marking.
I have chosen to study abroad in America in my second year, and playing the sport had a big influence on making that decision. Playing football motivated me to improve my fitness, which is a vital aspect of playing on the field as much as it is great for confidence and self-esteem off the field. Team work is also the essential part of playing and winning the games in American football, and adaptation to working as a whole unit is a skill that will benefit for life.
Edinburgh Napier graduate Steffanie Stewart recently contacted us to let us know about an amazing charity hike that her brother (and fellow Edinburgh Napier graduate!) Donald Stewart is doing in honour of his friend, Ellie MacDonald who lost her battle with cancer in 2014. Steffanie shared with us some of the trials and tribulations that Donald has faced so far, as well as the inspiration behind the hike.
The Mohave Desert in July, earthquakes, altitude sickness, rattlesnakes (actually standing on one and living to tell the tale), scorpions, sunstroke, bears, cliff faces, long stretches without reliable water supplies or mobile signal, hitch hiking to resupply points (some of which seem to have been in slightly dangerous gang land areas…) and very sore feet. These are some of the obstacles faced by my brother Donald who set off on June 3rd to attempt an epic 878 mile trek along the Pacific Crest Trail, raising money for charity.
His charity of choice? One Million Miles for Ellie. Eleanor was Donald’s friend, who he met during a summer placement while studying at Edinburgh Napier. Sadly she passed away from cancer and her mum set up the One Million Miles for Ellie campaign; a campaign encouraging people to contribute towards a one million mile target, while raising money to support Cancer Research UK, Maggie’s Centres and MacMillan Cancer Support.
Ellie (being an outgoing, outdoor enthusiast too) and this inspiring campaign influenced Donald’s decision to step way out of his comfort zone. He wanted to trek such a huge distance in the hope that he could raise some money, or at least awareness for this great cause and help Ellie tick the number one wish off her bucket list – to destroy cancer.
Graphic Design graduate Sabina Friman has been afflicted with Alopecia Areata for the last 2 years. After receiving funding from the Student Grant Initiative, Sabina was able to share her experience of alopecia for her final year project which was featured as part of the Edinburgh Napier Degree Show. Since graduating over the summer and receiving the Honours Medal for her class, Sabina has gone on to win a Gold Creative Conscience award in Film & Photography for the project which continues to raise awareness of the condition, de-stigmatize it and empower others.
“Alopecia, especially for women, is a condition that isn’t talked about – instead, it is covered up and hidden, as hair loss often is seen as shameful. That is why stigma against baldness remains, as there isn’t enough awareness being raised of the condition. This is what makes the psychological effects of the disease very damaging. With my project I want to erase the stigma of bald women by raising awareness of alopecia through visually reimagining the condition. Not only has this helped me in going through the emotional stress caused by hair loss, but I hope it will help others suffering from the same condition.
Touchpoint, my alopecia story, is the result of a cross-disciplinary creative process. By translating my own battle of alopecia into everyday ‘armour’, the journey is represented by five interactive wearable pieces, art directed into a poster series depicting the emotional transformation of concealing my hair loss, to revealing it. The wearables, using thermochromic ink that reacts when you touch it, and the impactful posters are supported by a short film where I share my story, and summarize the project.
Edinburgh Napier is grateful to all of its supporters and the continued work that goes into enhancing the student experience through scholarships and internships. Murray & Currie has kindly provided five student placements since 2010, ensuring that the next generation of graduates get the opportunity to gain industry knowledge through hands on work experience. Company director Steven Currie, and Edinburgh Napier graduate Sara Peshrowian share their experience of the relationship between the University and Murray & Currie.
Back in 2010 we decided we wanted to get closer to the institutions and cornerstones that have shaped our City. It was natural that we would want to engage with Edinburgh Napier University and pull on their resources, international and domestic reach and strong profile. In return we would offer placements for business students looking to gain some hands on real time working experience and the opportunity the absorb and digest the buzz of a fast paced developing and successful business in a sector that the UK is obsessed with – residential property.
We didn’t think for a second just how successful this initiative would be. Sitting in our flagship head office that is 60 Queen Street, we have seen 5 students come through our doors and had nothing but positive and remarkably complimentary feedback. More satisfyingly these 5 individuals have stayed part of the Murray & Currie journey via regular updates on their career and development.
With a qualification in Engineering, Edinburgh Napier graduate Alan Edwards moved across the world to work with the Center for Advanced Surgical and Interventional Technology (CASIT), a state of the art facility designed to improve care for patients and their families. Alan describes the research he is involved in at CASIT and how his time at Edinburgh Napier helped to shape the focus of his career.
University of California, Los Angeles
Hello, my name is Alan Edwards I studied Engineering at Edinburgh Napier University, graduating in 1992. I moved to California in 2000. I have been at UCLA in Los Angeles for almost 10 years and I am thrilled to share with you the cutting edge relationship of research, Technology, Engineering, audio/visual integration as it relates to the field of Medicine, and my full-time role here at CASIT. Our work has a direct impact on patients and their families. I truly believe that we are making a vital difference here and worldwide. According to the annual US News Best Hospital Rankings, now in its 26th year, UCLA is the number one Medical Center on the West Coast and number three in the nation here in the US.
So what is CASIT, why was it founded, and what are our goals for now and the future. Dr. Carmack Holmes the founding “father” of CASIT can briefly describe this for you. UCLA’s Dr. E. Carmack Holmes is a world renowned leader in surgical oncology. He is an Honorary Member of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. He was recognized for his contributions to his profession as well as his strong links with Scotland, where he has lectured on several occasions.