Mentees 2017 – 2018


All of our mentees are current University of Birmingham students from a range of degree backgrounds, who recognised the value and benefit of alumni guidance during their final year of university.

Below are short profiles on each of our mentees on the Alumni Leadership Mentoring Programme (ALMP).

If you’re inspired by any of these mentees apply now to the Mentoring Programme by clicking here!

Mentees for 2017-18

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Angus Gillan, Ancient History

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Mentor: Andrew Garner, Executive Search and Career Management Consultant

Why ALMP? Through being a mentee I aim to gather information on potential career paths relating to my interests and experiences, predominantly within various areas of consultancy (business, security and development and political consultancy), politics, policy work, and other potential avenues. I hope to further my understanding of future processes I will go through to achieve career ambitions. I also wish to expand my professional network and learn more on successfully maintaining and cultivating networks.

Arran MillsArran Mills, Geography

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Mentor: Jane Lodge (not available for 2018-19)

Why ALMP? During Second Year, I attended 3 skills session events in consulting, run by Deloitte and Accenture. I would like to find out more about the differing roles in the consulting industry and whether my experiencing in Procurement would fit in in this industry. I am currently considering applying for a Master’s degree. It would be great to have a discussion about whether this would bring any benefits to my future career. I am also hoping to discuss how to plan a career pathway with a long-term view.


Ayodeji Sheteolu, Economics

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Mentor: Martin Devenish, Board Member of S-RM, formerly known as Salamanca Risk Management

Why ALMP? Over the next year, I aspire to gain more confidence in myself to achieve my goals and have an improved idea of the next steps after graduation. As well as the in-depth knowledge that I will gain about banking from my mentor, I also aim to learn more about myself in terms of how I can use my character and my strengths to my own advantage when it comes to pursuing my career goals. With Martin Devenish as my mentor, his years of experience in the investment banking field will be extremely valuable in propelling me in the right direction. Aside from his knowledge of the sector, I hope to learn from his life experiences from starting as a University of Birmingham undergraduate to life as a partner of Goldman Sachs and being a Board Director for S-RM.


Bethany Shears, Medicine

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Mentor: Dr Andrew Vallance-Owen, Former Bupa Group Medical Director and Bupa Foundation Deputy Chair

Why ALMP? I am a determined, hard-working individual with an aspiration of a career in general practice with a special interest in neurology and medical education. I would also like to have leadership roles within my field through the Royal College of General Practitioners. I hope to gain advice on how to apply myself to ensure I achieve my career aspirations. I am interested to gain further insight on a career incorporating aspects of clinical work, medical education and leadership roles.

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Catherine Roberts, Drama and Theatre Arts

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Mentor: Phyllida Lloyd (not available for 2018-19)

Why ALMP? Over the next year I hope to be able to achieve a more solid and informed plan of action for achieving my goals. I believe that with the professional insight of Phyllida, I will be able to consider the positives and negatives of a range of different pathways such as applying to study an MA at a drama school. I also feel that it will be an invaluable experience for me to learn from Phyllida what she and other industry professionals look for in actors to ensure that I am presenting myself in the best possible way. I feel that having such an experienced outside perspective will allow me to pinpoint areas of weakness that I need to work on in order to improve my own practice as an actor. I am also hoping to learn more about the process of applying to agencies and gaining professional work experience.

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Chaaya Agravat, Medicine

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Mentor: Dr Rowan Hillson MBE, National Clinical Director for Diabetes 2008-2013

Why ALMP? From this year, I hope to get involved in more work experience opportunities, research opportunities and other extra-curricular projects, with an aim of finding specialities that I am interested in. Furthermore, from reading previous blogs from Dr Hillson’s mentees, I believe that she could be a helpful advisor in terms of perfecting my interview skills and enhancing my medical CV and future applications. Finally, I hope that Dr Hillson can provide tailored advice in terms of whom best to contact, and what I should aim to achieve from my elective so that I can make the most of this amazing experience!


Daniyal Zafar, Masters in Mechanical Engineering with Industrial year

Blogs to come soon!

Mentor: Terry Morgan (not available for 2018-19)

Why ALMP? My main career aspirations are to own my own businesses and help other people in the process, I want to add value to the lives of other people and make a real difference to my society. I have attempted this with my first business and will try again with my second business which is about selling organic frozen food. I started this over 1 year ago, and have currently manged to get a small profit margin and am trying to grow it further.

IMG_1920Eleanor Lewis, Biochemistry

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Mentor: Baroness Doreen Massey, Labour Peer in the House of Lords and member of the Parliamentary Delegation to the Council of Europe

Why ALMP? In all my extra-curricular activities, I have worked with and helped young people. My personality is built on logic, so to me it only made sense that I should become a teacher. However, the reasoning behind this is so much more than my hobbies and interests. Before I know about the mentoring scheme, I knew that I needed to somehow get involved with politics in order to achieve the things I had in mind. I feel very strongly that the UK education system needs an overhaul. My career goal is to be in a position where I am able to immerse myself in schools and change them for the better.

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Iesha Thomas, English

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Mentor: Sam Baker (not available for 2018-19)

Why ALMP? I want a career that allows me to communicate creatively – whatever avenue that will take. A hunger to produce writing in this ever-changing industry seems even more impossible in the digital age, and the challenge of journalism excites me, and who better to help me navigate those choppy waters than the first editor I ever knew existed (I used to nab my Mum’s Red Magazines as a kid). This programme will offer me the chance to pick your brains on how to be successful in the journalism sector, navigate entering the field and gaining relevant experience, an insight into an industry I’ve always been intrigued by, and writing advice – in journalism and fiction.

IMG_0021James F. Hill, Hispanic Studies and History

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Mentor: Cilla Snowball CBE, Group Chairman and Group CEO, AMV BBDO

Why ALMP? I hope that mentoring might indicate what role in an agency might be right for me. My mentor’s experience and wisdom guiding me on the best route to follow, creating new opportunities to develop my network. I hope to gain insight into what skills I need to concentrate on to progress. I want to hear theories on the future of advertising from an industry leader. I would welcome advice on the strategies that I should employ for getting into the industry and ways to develop the skills that I have and to enhance the skills that I lack. I want to develop my own personal approach, ABC, which is Always Be Communicating. My end objective is to have a positive mutual relationship with my mentor, forge a network of contacts with her help and impress upon her my commitment to time management, productivity and a hard work ethic.

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James Hopkins, Medicine

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Mentor: Prof Steve Field (not available for 2018-19)

Why ALMP? I consider myself a driven and capable individual, with a desire to make an impact. I’m aware there is no shortcut to practicing good medicine, or implementing good policy but I would love the opportunity to learn from a mentor what aspect of their career they consider to be most rewarding and worthwhile. I hope to gain a source of knowledge, a place to share ideas and receive support, and an opportunity to be challenged – to expand my ambitions and move out of my comfort zone.

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Jamie D’Costa, Medicine

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Mentor: Professor Alan Boyd, Managing Director at Boyd’s

Why ALMP? I have applied to the Alumni Leadership Mentoring Programme, as I wanted to know what small steps I can do at this stage of my career to improve my portfolio of medical science.  I have enjoyed my Medical Education thus far, and would like to have more of a selected career experience while I am still a student. Finally, I would really appreciate guidance to building an academic portfolio and how I can make myself an attractive candidate for academic medical jobs.


Jennifer Cook, English with Year Abroad

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Mentor: Luciana Berger, Labour and Co-operative Member of Parliament for Liverpool Wavertree.

Why ALMP? With a view to apply for both the Generalist/ House of Commons grad schemes, I hope to gain an insight into how policies are formed and exactly how the diplomatic process unfolds across all levels. Furthermore, I am eager to learn about the work that you are conducting at the moment, as well as hearing about your past projects. More significantly, I hope to gain a personal insight into life within the civil service and a greater of the challenges that might face someone in my position who will be entering the work force for the first time as a graduate.


Lydia Richmond, Business Management with Year In Industry

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Mentor: Andrew Garner, Executive Search and Career Management Consultant

Why ALMP? My dream career would be to run my own charity set up in a developing country, encouraging education through exchange programs across the world. I understand to have the financial ability, contacts and understanding of business to achieve this and make it beneficial and withstanding I would benefit from corporate experience.


Marcella Cilia, Geology and Physical Geography

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Mentor: Jane Lodge (not available for 2018-19)

Why ALMP? I chose to partake in mentoring for three reasons. Firstly, to enhance my skills and behaviours for recruitment processes.  Secondly, to get the perspective of a professional with much more life experience than me. And lastly, to improve my networking skills and the ability to build professional relationships with potential employers.My 7-year plan is to create my own online geophysical consulting company, for which I hope, through Jane’s experience, to gain appropriate advice on how best to develop a business model and create a client base.

Matthew Beswick

Matthew Beswick, Economics

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Mentor: Lucy Baldwin, Managing Director at Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Why ALMP? Throughout this period of mentoring I hope to gain an insight into the dynamics of working on a trading desk at a bank. I have participated in a few simulations where I have acted as a sales trader/trader at an IB however I hope to gain a more comprehensive understanding by learning from the vast knowledge that I am sure Lucy has. Furthermore, I would be eternally grateful to receive any help and tips regarding application processes- such as how best to make an impact during the short time that I will be exposed to the individuals in charge of deciding my fate! Additionally, I am extremely appreciative to be able to have a mentor that has such a firm footing in the industry; unfortunately, I have no prior contacts in finance so have found it quite tiresome to gain the experience that is so crucial to success.


Melissa Tindall, Biological Sciences

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Mentor: Sam Decombel, Chief Knowledge Officer, Fitness Genes Ltd

Why ALMP? Over the next year my main goal is to achieve a First class in my degree. However further to this, I would really like to expand my knowledge about the biotechnology and personalised medicine industry, so that I can make the best informed decision about which companies I should apply to for graduate schemes, or consider whether I should pursue further education and study for a masters or PhD. I would like my mentor, Sam, to give me some insight into how these sorts of companies are run, what kind of qualities and skills they look for in future employees, and what it is like working as a female in this sector.


Monique Wheatle, Biomedical Science

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Mentor: Jane Collins, Chief Executive, Marie Curie Cancer Care

Why ALMP? Involvement in the Alumni Leadership Mentoring Programme is something I am very excited about, as I believe it can greatly support my academic progression and career goals – which are to get into graduate medicine and ultimately become a doctor. Over the next year, I hope to submit a successful application to graduate medicine, and this programme will help by providing practical support in terms of my personal statement and interview practice. I also hope that this programme will expand my knowledge into the opportunities within the medical profession – as I feel my knowledge at present is limited to the medical school application.

Olivia (Liv) BoyceOlivia Boyce, English

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Mentor: Alan Davey, Controller, BBC Radio 3

Why ALMP? I would like the mentoring program to increase my confidence regarding entering the media and arts sectors, by working with Mr Davey, who has a significant presence and experience in both. In particular, I would like to discuss Mr Davey’s time at the Arts Council England, and the responsibilities and demands of his role there, in relation to the greater arts sector, as well as his time as a civil servant. I would also like to gain a greater understanding of the broadcasting sector and the administrative requirements involved in Radio 3, as part of a larger multifaceted corporation such as the BBC.


Olubukunola (Bukky) Oluyole, Political Science with a year abroad

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Mentor: Sarah Cox, Chief Operating Officer, Ofgem

Why ALMP? Over the next year of this mentorship programme, I would like to tap into your knowledge and expertise of what it is really like to work within the public sector, specifically the civil service, I would also like to improve on my professional etiquette and welcome any opportunities to network in the industry of which I am interested in. Most importantly, I would like some guidance and development in being the best job applicant I can possibly be.


Oluwafeyisara Adebiyi, Music

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Mentor: Simon Halsey, Chorus Director, City of Birmingham Symphony Choruses

Why ALMP? My main area of interest is the conducting and composition of choral/orchestral music. My ultimate career goal is to become a successful composer of various styles – but mainly Classical – of music.  To make this a reality, most of my extra-curricular activities are focused on music. I therefore don’t make the distinction between a ‘hobby’ and ‘work’ when it comes to music.  The main two non-musical extra-curricular activities I have is playing football and operating train simulators. Ultimately from this process, I hope to grow. That is in maturity, confidence and understanding about the challenging and ‘uncertain’ career path that I believe I am destined to take.  I would also like to increase my social circle. Networking is a crucial part of progression and it can provide an abundance of new opportunities such commissions for new compositions.

Phoebe MansfieldPhoebe Mansfield, Political Science

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Mentor: Louise Barnes (not available for 2018-19)

Why ALMP? As I conclude my education at University my thoughts are turning increasingly to the steps I want to take both in my professional development and also more broadly as an individual. I believe that building a close professional relationship with Louise will be a wonderful opportunity to learn, helping me gain a better idea of the areas that excite me the most and consequently help me advance my career prospects. Over the next year I will develop my skills and behaviours to be prepared for and successful during recruitment processes. In addition to this I hope to gain a clearer idea of the career direction I would be suited to and enjoy. I am absolutely delighted that Louise will be my mentor, as I believe she will help me achieve these goals.

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Rahul Kalia, Dentistry

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Mentor: Dr Barry Cockcroft, Chief Dental Officer

Why ALMP? By learning from a mentor who has had extensive experience in almost all of these respects, I hope to gain more knowledge with regards to the career opportunities available, things I can do now to develop my interests and find out what is best-suited to me. In particular, due to the rise of corporate dentistry, I would be interested to find out the managerial opportunities available to dentists. Learning how to manage these career aspirations alongside clinical practice also intrigues me. I believe that such an experienced mentor is required as dentistry has changed extensively over the last 5-10 years and is looking to change even more in the future.


Rashad Borbély, Computer Science

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Mentor: Mayank Patel, Group Chairman & CEO – Azibo Group

Why ALMP? I am generally interested about how technology plays into finance and particularly interested in emerging FinTech solutions and disruptive technologies. Although I have already had an experience with the Financial services world, I would definitely like to learn more about it. I am convinced that in this industry who you know can be just as important as what you know, and I am therefore looking forward for any possible networking opportunities. Personal development is also very important for me. I would like to learn more about what makes a truly successful person who is not only a leader in his industry and at the forefront of his field, but also a charismatic person who can confidently manage others as well as influence them on a personal level.

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Rebecca Wilkins, Music

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Mentor: Simon Halsey, Chorus Director, City of Birmingham Symphony Choruses

Why ALMP? One of my biggest difficulties has been to accommodate both the jazz and classical worlds. This year I am majoring in jazz voice, but I still wish to keep up classical singing. I have been looking into master’s performance courses, however I am not sure if this is the most beneficial route, or whether it would be better to try and get on the Birmingham Music scene as soon as possible. Within this, I need help choosing which opportunities are beneficial and which aren’t. I hope to form a clearer plan for my future through the mentoring scheme, and be able to implement steps to achieve my goal of being a performer in the music industry.

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Yana Petkova, Psychology

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Mentor: Valerie Hughes-D’Aeth, HR Director, BBC

Why ALMP? Through the Alumni Leadership Mentoring Scheme I hope that I will be able to learn more about what it is like to be in a top HR position. I am especially interested in the business side of the job, as I have no previous experience in a business-related field. I am looking forward to hearing more about and learning from your personal experience, and I would appreciate any advice on how to start and forward my career in HR.