Hello & Goodbye from SUMS Alumni: Charlotte Axon (2015)

— 10.05.18

by Adam Greenwood

Charlotte Axon, MSc Occupational Psychology (2015), is one of our own. Having first studied Psychology at the University, Charlotte then gained her Masters, before undertaking employment in our Human Resources (HR) department. Charlotte's insightful story, an alumni and now an integral member of the HR team's Equality, Diversity and Inclusion initiatives, means she has a highly developed understanding of organisational behaviour, talent attraction and selection, and embedding equality law into practice. We caught up with Charlotte to talk about the latest developments in her role, found out how her degrees shaped her career ambitions, and most importantly, used her expansive knowledge of the Steel City to rate the best urban eateries!

1. You're a SUMS alumni and a member of staff in HR, so what is it about the University that you clearly enjoy or admire?

I moved to Sheffield in 2010 because I felt a strong connection with the University. It’s hard to explain, but it has definitely kept me here. As a student, I loved living in such a lively campus environment and admired the University’s founding principles and values such as inclusivity and collegiality.

I had various jobs at the University whilst studying here and enjoyed being part of the University community. It was clear to me as a student that staff here are committed to making the world a better place, and I wanted to be part of this.

The University has a reputation as a leading employer. It supports staff through various means, including its innovative Health and Wellbeing service, Juice, and by providing a range of development opportunities. Not only that, but working here means I’m able to attend lectures and events hosted by the University (e.g. 24 Hour Inspire, lecture by David Blunkett, and SUMS alumni events), which means that I am forever learning from, and networking with people linked to Sheffield.

“I was promised a relaxed evening of business networking [Northern Alumni Network], and the organisers delivered! It was beneficial to speak with people from my field, but also to meet new faces who have connections to Sheffield.”

2. You gained an MSc in Occupational Psychology in 2015, what elements of the course have you found most useful and applicable in your HR role?

Since starting full-time work at the University’s HR department, I have been lucky enough to be involved in a wide range of work, and apply some of the learning from my degree. This has included areas such as psychometric testing, quantitative research and survey design, talent attraction, embedding inclusion, and working on University-wide change projects. Being allowed the freedom to develop in these areas and being able to demonstrate the benefits of my Occ Psych approach to the organisation has been incredibly fulfilling.

3. You attended the Northern Alumni Network event in May 2018, why did you attend and what did you find most useful about the experience?

I was promised a “relaxed evening of business networking”, and the organisers delivered! It was beneficial to speak with people from my field, but also to meet new faces who have connections to Sheffield.

Saying this, one of the main reasons for attending was because award-winning Work Psychologist (and an ex-lecturer of mine), Dr Kamal Birdi, was presenting his Clear Ideas framework. I love the simplistic yet sophisticated nature of this model, which doubles as an app, and I was keen to understand how it has progressed since Kamal presented it to our cohort back in 2015. Kamal is a fantastic and inspirational teacher and I was lucky enough to have a creative conversation with him after the event.

“I co-wrote our Stonewall submission, a 30,000-word report, which measures the organisation’s efforts to tackle discrimination and create an inclusive workplace for LGBT+ employees. That year we moved up 64 places to achieve our highest ever ranking of 24th.”

4. At the event you were telling us about the University's Stonewall accreditation. With your role focused on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, what are the recent successes and changes that you've coordinated?

Our team are involved in a great deal of high profile and sector leading work, that sees benefits across the organisation. During my first two months in the ED&I team, I co-wrote our Stonewall submission - a 30,000-word report which measures the organisation’s efforts to tackle discrimination and create an inclusive workplace for LGBT+ employees. That year we moved up 64 places to achieve our highest ever ranking of 24th.

I am passionate about all the areas of work we are involved in, but a highlight for me was leading on our annual International Women’s Day event that we co-host with Sheffield Hallam University. Nearly 100 staff members heard from four inspirational women about their involvement in pressing for gender equality, the challenges they have faced, and what still needs to be done to make change happen. It was a particularly busy time for our team, however we battled through last minute drop-outs and never-ending snow to deliver a really successful event. Feedback was overly positive so we hope to build on this with the Women's Network throughout the year.

“Understand what motivates you at work, things that you enjoy and excel in, and focus on crafting these into your work.”

5. Describe your typical weekend / or an ideal weekend?

This depends - I tend to mix my weekends between being at home - discovering new music, shopping, catching up on TV etc., and spending my other weekends away from home visiting friends / family. Regardless, weekends for me usually revolve around food and drink, and at least one solid workout!

I also contribute content to a blog for a company which aims to make work better through applying positive psychology, wellbeing and behavioural science. This allows me to draw on skills that I refined during study, such as critical analysis and simplification of academic research: http://tailoredthinking.co.uk/blog

6. Sheffield boasts quite a few culinary delights, what are your top recommendations?

  • Brunch - The Grind Cafe, Kelham Island (busy but worth it)
  • Dinner - Joro, Kelham Island
  • Dinner (if you’re feeling extra) - Rafters, S11
  • Takeaway - Mavelli’s, Glossop Road
  • All round good food at a decent price - Forum, Division Street

7. Finally, what career advice do you have for current students in the area of employability?

Advice given to me which I found helpful (take it or leave it):

  • Decide where you want to be, how you'll get there, and just do it!
  • Understand what motivates you at work, things that you enjoy and excel in, and focus on crafting these into your work.
  • Get noticed. Be proud of your achievements.
  • Say yes to opportunities - not just the ones that are obviously beneficial (these are rare), but those that you can make use of in the future, that show your diversity of skills, and open up new opportunities.
  • Stay in touch with your coursemates and lecturers.
  • Don’t forget to look after yourself - mentally and physically.

Do you want to be interviewed? Alumni can ask for a interview by emailing mgtalumni@sheffield.ac.uk

13.04.18

Hello & Goodbye, from SUMS Alumni - Dan Radcliffe (2016)