Women@Imperial is a yearly series of events that take place around International Women’s Day (March 8) to celebrate academic and professional women and students at Imperial past and present, and to raise awareness towards the schemes that the College runs to support female careers.
The central part of the project is an exhibition of photographs of female staff, which goes on display in the College Main Entrance at South Kensington for the week closest to International Women’s Day.
As part of the celebrations we spoke to Erin Hallett, Head of Alumni Relations, to find out more about her career journey:
“It was always my dream to live and work in London and my role at the College has been the realisation of that dream. Every day at Imperial is different and every day I find new things to inspire and excite me: the energy of my team, the opportunity to collaborate with international like-minded professionals, and the brilliant students.
My happiest working moments at Imperial are when I am out meeting our alumni. I love hearing their stories and how Imperial impacted their lives. Our alumni are achieving great things and hearing them talk about their personal and professional journeys is hugely inspiring. And a great privilege
When I started my career, alumni relations wasn’t really a profession and I built the majority of my experience as a PA and working in communications. I had no specific experience when I interviewed for my first role in alumni relations but was able to demonstrate how my existing skills transferred and that I was passionate about the opportunity. Ultimately, being flexible and open has led to a challenging and fulfilling career. And one that makes me incredibly happy!
My advice, therefore, is to be creative in your approach to your career and your professional development. Don’t limit yourself, be flexible and stay open to new opportunities.
I am lucky to have always had strong female managers and mentors and their experience and advice has been an excellent guide. My personal situation is somewhat different because I decided not to have a family and concentrate wholly on my career. Therefore, I know I haven’t faced some of the same challenges as many of my female colleagues. My experience working in higher education has been positive and overall I think it is a supportive environment for both women and men to develop their careers.
My biggest challenge has been moving from Canada to the UK and adjusting to a new workplace culture. Little things like spelling ‘organisation’ with an ‘s’, open plan offices and eating excessive amounts of cake have all been challenging in their own ways. UK and Canada are similar but there are subtle differences that you don’t appreciate until you are immersed in the culture!
I do feel very fortunate to work in the Business School where this is a commitment to developing women in leadership roles. The School is involved with organisations like the Forté Foundation and 30% Club, which both champion women and equal gender representation. We also have fantastic leadership in our Associate Dean, Diane Morgan and our alumnae, who are involved with initiatives like the Imperial Women’s Network .