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International Women’s Day – Meet our women at the top!

The 8th of March 2018 is International Women’s Day – a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women. Here at University of Essex Online/Kaplan Open Learning (KOL), we work hard to ensure that the contributions made by women in our workplace are recognised and rewarded. In fact, of our 15 senior management roles, 13 positions are held by women!

Here are just some of our inspiring female leaders…

Nicola Pittman – Managing Director

How long have you worked at KOL? I have worked for Kaplan for 10 years this year. I started working for Kaplan Financial in 2008 as an accountancy tutor and am a chartered certified accountant (ACCA qualified). I moved to KOL in 2012 as a marketing manager and went on to also manage the admissions team and was in charge of product development and the accounts team before becoming the MD in 2016.

Give us a brief description of your role? I am the Managing Director of KOL. My role is to ensure that the operational aspects of the company run smoothly and to set the strategy, budgets, goals, objectives etc. I also work with the rest of the senior management team to determine the strategical direction of the company.

What is your favourite thing about/part of your job? The people that I work with and that what we do really makes a difference to people’s lives. Some our graduate stories are really inspiring and it motivates you to work hard and do a good job.

Do you have a memorable story from your time working with KOL? Winning public/private partnership of the year at the PIEoneer Awards in 2017.

Tell us an interesting non-work fact about yourself? I am currently an online student as well; in my spare time I am learning Spanish.

What would be your message to inspire other females in your field? Don’t underestimate yourself and don’t let others put you down – you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it.

 

Carol Dadd – Director of Quality & Student Services

How long have you worked at KOL? Four and half years.

Give us a brief description of your role? My role as Director of Quality and Student Services is to deliver effective, efficient and robust processes in the areas of Quality and Student Support.  I’m also responsible for ensuring that we meet our regulatory requirements in the HE sector, and that we are maintaining the academic quality and standards of our awarding body.

What is your favourite thing about/part of your job? The people I work with.

Do you have a memorable story from your time working with KOL? Every time I go to Graduation I feel extremely proud of the achievements of all our students.

Tell us an interesting non-work fact about yourself? I appeared in one of the first reality shows on UK TV called Jimmy’s, about St James University Hospital in Leeds.

What would be your message to inspire other females in your field? Work hard and believe in yourself.

 

Caroline Bluemel – Head of Marketing

How long have you worked at KOL? I started in June 2015, so almost 3 years.

Give us a brief description of your role? As the Head of Marketing, it is my job to ensure that we successfully advertise our undergraduate and postgraduate courses to potential students around the world. My team and I do this in a variety of ways including Google Pay Per Click advertising, social media, email campaigns, blogging and various other ways of promoting our website.

What is your favourite thing about/part of your job? I love learning more about our students and finding out what motivates them to start a course. We have students that start our programmes for all sorts of different reasons, e.g. to develop their career or to improve their self-confidence, and I really enjoy learning how to communicate with all of them.

Do you have a memorable story from your time working with KOL? I really enjoy graduation each year. It is a genuinely inspiring day when we get to meet our students and hear their stories. Every year, we present our own awards to our online students and I have the opportunity to interview our inspirational students. Over the years I have heard stories of single mothers who want to inspire their children through education, entrepreneurs building global businesses and students who have suffered extreme hardships to achieve their qualification. (You could link to the graduation page here if you want!)

Tell us an interesting non-work fact about yourself? On my wedding day I stood on my husband’s chest while he was laying on a bed of nails – neither of us knew this was going to happen!

What would be your message to inspire other females in your field? Don’t be afraid to speak out and share your ideas and opinions in whatever field you work in. All too often, women stay in the background because they are afraid of being perceived as bossy or abrasive; it’s time to change this!

 

Amelia Lyons – Head of Finance

How long have you worked at KOL? 2 years in April.

Give us a brief description of your role? As Head of Finance I have overall responsibility for the Finance department and the complete accounting function. Basically, I look after the pennies.

What is your favourite thing about/part of your job? All of it. I love interacting with other head of departments and improving processes.

Do you have a memorable story from your time working with KOL? Reading the students submissions for the Alan Jenkins award gives us the opportunity to have an insight into our students’ lives. Some of our students would not be able to obtain their qualifications if online study was not available. I am proud to be part of a company that genuinely wants to change people lives.

Tell us an interesting non-work fact about yourself? I really don’t like stickers, especially ones that get put on fruit.

What would be your message to inspire other females in your field? Enjoy what you do. We spend too much time at work not to be happy. If you decide you are going to have a bad day chances are you probably will. But if you decide that today is going to be a good day, you know what it just might be. I know it sounds cheesy but try it and see how your day goes.