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Let’s pay it forward

Students from the University of Sussex Business School met recently with Sussex alumnae at Microsoft’s London offices to launch a new mentoring forum. The participants were asked to consider the opportunities and challenges for women in business today.

Nine outstanding students successfully came through a competitive application process to participate in this inaugural event. They were offered a unique opportunity to meet informally with leading alumnae and to discuss frankly the challenges and opportunities for women working in corporate environments.

The event was hosted by Suzy Foster (English ‘95), Microsoft’s Director of Health & Life Science. She was encouraging in her observation that ‘organisations like Microsoft truly value the importance of creating a diverse workforce and recognise that this makes for the most productive and profitable outcome.’

Alumnae mentors also included Tessa Matchett (English with Media ‘93), UK TV Head of Network Communications; Tosin Ajayi (Economics ‘96), Managing Director at Morgan Stanley Bank; and Jacqui Harper MBE (American Studies ‘85) broadcaster, INSEAD Professor and leading business coach.

The initiative was conceived by Mary Connolly, Donor Relations and Development Manager in Sussex’s Development and Alumni Relations Office.

“I am fortunate to have met with many inspiring alumnae who are leaders in their fields and who wish to share their personal experiences and insights with our students and other alumni. I hope this event will be the first of many and that these personal conversations and relationships will develop into a meaningful network of women who will support and inspire each other throughout their careers.”

The event was chaired by Alumni Relations Co-ordinator for the Business School (USBS), Serena Mitchell and facilitated by Kate Thorpe, Sussex’s Business Engagement Officer.

“We had huge interest from students across USBS and the participants at the event expressed real strength of feeling. This is just the beginning for our Women Mean Business group. We will be continuing conversations through the newly launched Sussex Connect app, which connects all Sussex students to our fantastic pool of alumni mentors and the group plan to stay in touch via LinkedIn. We’re planning further events to broaden out this opportunity to more alumni and students.”

The ambitions for the Women Mean Business initiative were perfectly articulated at the event by Tessa Matchett:

"Be inquisitive. Be curious to always know more. Seek out and surround yourself with inspiring people."

By: Emma Wigmore
Last updated: Thursday, 28 June 2018