Says Capgemini Senior Consultant Gesine Ludke who was invited as guest speaker to Royal Holloway University (RHU) and who shares her experience in this Blog
When I was asked to be a guest speaker at Royal Holloway University (RHU) for “Sprint”, the professional development programme for undergraduate women, I was immediately up for it! I felt the timing to promote gender equality and to empower young women who are about to enter the tough corporate world couldn’t be better. The world of Film is a great example of gender diversity on the global agenda; films such as “Made in Dagenham” and “Suffragette” recount historic events in the continuing effort to recognise gender equality and are shown in cinemas all over the country (and in the world). These stories are a reminder that we have come a long way in our fight for equal rights, be it in a social, private, or corporate context. And yet, still in 2017, there are numerous threats to gender equality. I feel there is still a strong need to advocate these rights, to maintain and push them even further and, more importantly, to equip young women with the knowledge, skills, and power to make use of their rights.
Although my job was to inspire the attendees, I quickly found it to be an inspiring if not eye-opening two-day event for me. I listened to stories of young women who are trying to make the right decisions in the complex world of manifold career options, who are trying to balance family and cultural expectations against their personal priorities, and who are on the search for their ‘true career passion’.
A group of the Attendees and I at the first ‘Sprint’ event.
The Sprint event at RHU comprised of two parts: The first involved guest speakers talking to the undergraduates about their achievements and their lessons learnt. As one of the guest speakers, I spoke about my past four years of corporate experience in consulting and shared my key learning: “Don’t be afraid to be a salmon!” What I meant by this was to follow your own ambitions no matter what others claim to know is best for you. I believe this message resonated with the undergraduate female students as they fed this learning back on the second part of the event stressing how important it is in their eyes to swim against the stream, be aware of your unique selling point and to stand up for your own dreams. Other female guest speakers who supported the event at RHU were: Annika Zeyen, a 1.5-point wheelchair basketball player, who won a gold medal at the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London; Evronia Azer, a Doctoral Researcher in “Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for Development” and human rights activist; as well as Agata Augulevic, a Private Banking Analyst at J.P. Morgan. I challenge anyone to not be inspired by this group!
The Guest Speaker Annika Zeyen and I with some Undergraduates at Royal Holloway University.
The second part of the Sprint event took place during the week of International Women’s Day, all previous guest speakers convened and gave their ear to the student’s summary on what they had learned during their attendance of Sprint. For me, it was a great opportunity to commemorate women’s fight for equal rights and, at the same time, contribute to this matter. And whilst the International Women’s Day on March 8th was a great vehicle for the Sprint event, my personal take away is: Women’s Day is Every Day!
More information on Sprint: http://www.newn.cam.ac.uk/student-life/support/career-development/the-sprint-programme/