On Saturday 24th November I had the privilege of meeting up with my mentor Tamsin Grieg at Enzo’s Kitchen on Panton Street, directly opposite the Harold Pinter Theatre where Tamsin was due on stage only a couple of hours later! We ordered a coffee each as well as a rather eccentric desert which Tamsin encouraged me to eat with my hands. This certainly gave the meeting a relaxed and informal feel!
We began by talking about my music degree and the specific modules I was taking this year. This was a lovely way to start the conversation as it allowed her to get a feel for my character without jumping straight in to the whole deal of: ‘what do you want to do with your life?’, ‘what motivates you?’ straightaway. The conversation then moved towards her, where she talked about what she did when she was my age. She told me about how she got on with her degree at UoB, what she got up to in the years after that, and how, interestingly, she underwent a period in which she felt the performing industry was not for her. On reflection, it was so valuable to gain that insight into the steps she took after she graduated, as it taught me that there is only so much you can plan for in terms of your career path. You must always expect the unexpected and be ready to take opportunities, which is especially crucial in this performing industry.
Following this, she began to offer some really helpful advice regarding the industry itself. She stressed the importance of staying true to yourself as a performer. Specifically, she advised me to hold on to my native Cheshire accent as she says it offers casting directors something different from the flurry of actors who naturally speak with received pronunciation. She also advised me to keep my cards close to my chest, as the industry is quick to label you which automatically limits your ability to find work; hence, it is always good to have something up your sleeve that you perhaps have not revealed before. This was all so refreshing to hear, as in my experience, you always perform better when you are not constantly looking to recreate a performance that you have seen from someone else, and relate it to yourself instead. The fact that Tamsin felt so strongly about this inspires me to always stay true to myself, and to not feel like I have to change for the industry.
Before Tamsin had to rush off to get in costume, she was able to offer further advice regarding performing through song, saying how it is vital that you let the character’s emotions drive the words you are singing, as opposed to just singing the words. Hearing an actor as successful as Tamsin stress the importance of carrying out this character work encourages me to put in these extra hours which will no doubt contribute to a better performance overall.
After the meeting I watched her in action at the Pinter Theatre – it is more than fair to say that I have a mentor who is greatly inspiring both off and on the stage!
I wrote my last blog post after only meeting my mentor, Alan Davey, once. Since then, I have been down to visit him at BBC Broadcasting House in London twice and have rearranged a third meeting because the impending doom of final year deadlines. These meetings have only gotten better and I feel privileged to be able to spend time and learn from such a knowledgeable and passionate person.
My second meeting with Alan was super exciting, I had heard from him the day before to let me know the plan and I was shocked but thrilled to learn that in addition to catching up and talking about my CV, I would be getting the chance to shadow the producers of the drive time show on Radio 3. After checking in and getting my visitors badge, Alan came down to pick me up from the reception and I’m pretty sure we found something to talk about from that moment until I left the building around 5 hours later. Alan was able to show me around Broadcasting House, taking me to see everything from his Radio 3 studios to the news room and Radio 1. Everywhere we went, Alan introduced me to anyone he could, explaining that I was his mentee and it was a great
chance to chat to other people working in radio, we talked about what I was doing in student radio and then I also got to learn about what they were doing in their day to day roles. Knowing my passion for Radio 1, Alan snuck me into their trendy playlist room, filled with signed records on the wall from artists likes Amy Winehouse, it all felt a bit surreal. Following this, we headed back to his office to talk through my CV. His feedback was invaluable and he was able to offer me an insight into what radio bosses like himself look for in a potential employee and a future leader.
Then came for the even more exciting bit where Alan introduced me to the team who produce In Tune on BBC Radio 3, their drive time show which has live classical music on every evening. The team were so welcoming and while Alan went off to get some of his work done, they looked after me, asking questions, answering all of mine and showing me all around the studios. As the show went live I had the opportunity to see how it all happened, chat to the producers and studio managers as well as learn more about how Radio 3 works. Being able to see how the team work under the pressure of having live music on air and still remain so calm was incredible.
I learned lots of ideas for how I could improve my work on Burn FM and also how those producers ended up working for the BBC and how I could work towards the same thing.
The next time I went down to London to visit Alan, we talked for a couple of hours all about the next steps, each putting forward ideas for how I can take the next steps towards working in the radio industry. As I was heading to a student radio conference, Alan also offered guidance on how to make the most of networking and we talked about who I should aim to speak to and what to talk about. Alan also gave me permission to drop his name in when chatting to certain BBC directors and it felt like a seal of approval. It gave me the confidence to really make the most of the opportunity.
I’m eager to submit my essays so that I can start working on the next part of my career journey, with Alan’s support and guidance.
In the past few months, I have really begun to understand how busy final year is, and as a result the majority of my time with Valerie has been spent over phone calls. However, this has allowed a flexible approach to what we do, and meant that any last-minute topics which come up we are able to accommodate. Valerie was still increasingly helpful, giving me advice on how to manage my dissertation, and what topics would be relevant from a business perspective to include.
Something else Valerie really helped me with was my graduate applications – we spent quite a lot of time talking about the different areas, what a long-term career plan in HR would ideally look like for me, and some tips about what experience I need to get there. Valerie’s advice has really helped me focus on what I want out of a career, and I have found some really interesting jobs which I wouldn’t have considered beforehand!
Overall, my time with Valerie has been really inspiring – she has given me a real insight into what a career looks like as a senior HR director, and has been extremely supportive over the last year. I am looking forward to my next meeting with Valerie, to go through my next steps.
I am extremely grateful for having been a part of the ALMP, as it has boosted my confidence, and allowed me to learn things which will be important for my career going forwards. I would totally recommend it to anyone, as even if you know what you want to do in the future, it’s always worth getting more experience and seeing other perspectives!
Business Management with a Year in Industry
I have had several meetings with Barry since the first blog, he has been very approachable throughout. In the most recent meeting we further discussed life after graduation, it was great to hear more about Barry’s incredible career and experiences. I think it is these anecdotes and the advice Barry gives along with them that have taught me the most about what makes a leader. Reflecting on my initial goals for this scheme, I now know the importance of having an action plan after graduation but also being prepared to change this as necessary.
I noticed something quite humbling, just before his meeting with me Barry had met up with his mentee from last year. This highlighted to me the fact that this scheme provides you with so much more than just a year of mentoring advice, it provides you with contacts and mentors for life.
Over the last few months my mentor has provided me with the contact details for several people in the field, so far I have met with two of these people. This has given me the opportunity to learn about different perspectives, their job roles and their journeys. The first was a meeting with the youngest dental public health consultant, Dr. Tomson. I made my way to the offices, feeling very out of place in the waiting room where everyone else, dressed up in suits, looked like they meant business. But once I was called in the friendly environment instantly made me feel comfortable, Dr Tomson told me about her career journey and the advice she would give at this stage of my career. I learnt more about her day to day work which was very interesting – this completely changed my perception of a career in dental public health.
I also got the opportunity to make a trip to London and attend a meeting at the Shard offices with Mr Rattan. I made my way down to London, it was a pleasant break during a busy week at uni. After entering the offices I went through security and was presented with the task of navigating my way to the right floor, after taking ending up on the wrong floor a few times I finally made it to the right office. The views from the waiting room kept me occupied while I waited to be called in. The meeting went really well, again we discussed career pathways as well as the current trends in dentistry. Making my way to the exit was just as hard as getting to the office but once out I then had the rest of the day to spend in London before getting back to Birmingham.
Everyone I have met so far has told me how lucky I am to have Barry as my mentor, they have nothing but praise for him and his work. And he has always told me that in a leadership role you will have to make unpopular decisions because of the role you are in but it depends on you whether people are able to dissociate the job role from you as an individual and give you that respect.