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This Woman's Work

This Woman's Work

Hear from Sarah Williams, Interim Director at University of Wolverhampton Business School, as she shares her career journey on International Women's Day. 

As we celebrate International Women’s Day 2022 and I approach my fiftieth year, I have taken time to reflect on my career journey so far. In this short post, I consider the education, skills, experiences and, often, chance encounters that have shaped my career. In many ways my story is one of chance, serendipitous decisions, which were not my first choice, but brought me to this point.

Joining the Woly Poly

It starts in 1990, when a last minute decision not to take a gap year brought me to Woly Poly (as it was known then) via clearing to study French and Spanish. I have to confess that I rather enjoyed my time at University, which meant that when I graduated from the University of Wolverhampton four years later I had learned a lot, I had plenty of experiences and stories but not the best grade profile!

My love of language and writing lead me to a career in public relations, again not directly, but by chance. After a couple of years spent writing about shelving, lockers and pallet racking (thank you Link51!) I moved into PR agencies and found my niche. Managing clients, organising events, wining and dining journalists (it was the 90’s!) and developing creative campaigns was great fun and played to my strengths. Here I developed the organisation, writing and communication skills which I had learned in University, but I also learned the importance of honesty, trust, transparency and good, clear communications.

Inspired by Women

I have encountered many inspirational women throughout my career and I have been managed by more women than men, but I owe a particularly huge debt to Hazel Crawford-Upton, the ever talented and now hugely successful MD of 8848 Agency. A chance conversation in a performance review back in 2000 resulted in my contacting the University of Wolverhampton to offer a guest lecture in PR to students on the media and communications degree and this sparked a love of teaching. It would be four more years before I took the plunge and moved into teaching public relations full time right back where I started at the University of Wolverhampton. The skills I had developed working in communications were a perfect fit for teaching and blended well with my lifelong love affair with learning. Without Hazel, I would never have taken this path and I will always be grateful to her.

I now lead the University of Wolverhampton Business School as Interim Director and I am proud of the work that we do; I am proud of our staff, our innovative and nurturing curriculum, our fantastic spaces, but most of all I am proud of our students. Hard working, ambitious, driven and passionate, our students inspire me every day and they are the driving force behind everything I do.

I am motivated by all the people around me, particularly the inspirational women blazing a trail and leading the way and I am grateful for their example, their guidance and their support.

My career so far has taught me that you may not get everything right first time, and you may feel like you are not on the right path but you are learning all the time, and taking time to reflect on your experiences and learning lessons will improve your decision making and keep you humble, both of which are important skills in management. Chance encounters and second choices brought me to this point in my life and made me who I am; along the way I learned the importance of resilience, positivity, reflection and never giving up. I learned the importance of asking for help and always having a mentor, of being vulnerable and always being honest; I learned the importance of clear and timely communication in bringing people together; and I learned that learning is a skill we need to practise.

I don’t always get things right but I am prepared to learn and in business, as in life, learning from your mistakes is everything.

For more information please contact the Corporate Communications Team.

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