Beyond Hull: Destination Inspiration

On Wednesday 4th March, five of our recent graduates travelled from across the UK to join us for our ‘Beyond Hull: Destination Inspiration’ event to discuss their very best tips and advice they have gained in their career journey so far. Over 30 guests gathered in Canham Turner to hear from our alumni and our very own Computer Science student Tom O’Neil chaired the event for us in a smooth and engaging manner.

From left Josh Western, Rebekah Heaton, Alex Dunn, Eden Barnes and Heather Lacey

First up to speak on the panel was activist and Marketing Executive Heather Lacey (English, 2015), who spoke about how she first arrived at Hull by chance due to visiting a friend, but soon fell in love with the campus and people. Heather is a disability activist with cerebral palsy and a severe kyphotic curve her spine, and has recently been listed as one of the country’s most influential people with a disability. Heather became invested in disability rights and her personal, social-media life became integral to not only to her sense of identity, but her studies too.

Eden Barnes was next in line to speak and she returned from the famous Number 10 Downing Street, where she works as Visits Officer for the Prime Minister, an incredibly fast-paced role, travelling worldwide to any engagements the PM has before he arrives. Eden graced the audience with her bubbly aura and informed everyone about how she loved to talk and meet others and this has always served her well when applying for positions. Eden quickly found a passion in the event organisation side of her placement year and this really helped to shape future decisions she made. Eden stressed the importance of being yourself: ‘don’t worry if you don’t talk like them or don’t write like them, because I didn’t and I still don’t and it hasn’t stopped me from being successful.’

Next up on the panel was Alex Dunn (Politics & History, 2012). Alex is currently the Private Secretary to the Executive Director Risk at the Bank of England. It was clear to see as Alex spoke that he absolutely adores Hull and it will always be a very special place for him; the place that gave him the opportunity he needed when other universities did not. He advised students to always look at the bigger picture of what an organisation can offer you, as the Bank of England are now supporting Alex to study an MBA at Exeter University Business School, he truly believes it’s very important to have a good work and life balance, despite admitting that this is something he himself struggles with!

We then heard from L’Oréal employee Rebekah Heaton who joined us after spending the morning talking to accounting students at Wyke College. Rebekah initially joined Hull to study Business Management and soon found a passion for the accounting modules, so she switched over to this degree completely in her second year. She echoed Eden’s thoughts on how your degree doesn’t define you and that the options are endless for roles even in companies like L’Oréal.  They are not just for females and people who wish to work in the makeup and cosmetics industry, as so many people still believe. Rebekah did not apply for hundreds of different roles instead she searched for companies who felt right for her and where their mission and goals matched her own beliefs.  

The last of our panel speakers was entrepreneur Josh Western who has worked for the UK Space Agency and has since set up his own business Spaceforge. He began by telling our students about his very first, reluctant, visit to Hull, the visit where he moaned for the entire journey as his Mum insisted, he give it a chance. The moment he stepped on to campus he saw the beautiful red brick buildings, the community village-like feel and friendliness that filled the grounds, he instantly changed his mind and Hull became his first choice, he laughed in good humour as he admitted it’s also where he met his fiancée. Josh’s business is flourishing, he told students that ‘the hardest part of a task is starting it’ and when you conquer that success will follow. Spaceforge are steadily growing and planning to launch their first satellite into space very soon.  An amazing achievement.

After we heard from each of our guest speakers we moved onto an interactive Q&A session Josh spoke of opportunities within his own company that may be coming up and has since linked up with several students. Heather spoke of how her advocacy work at Hull helped her find her voice, and Eden told students to be themselves and try to make any interview more of a chat rather than a formal setting as this has always helped her to relax and help her succeed.

We are thankful to each of speakers from last week as they gave up their time to return.   They have all achieved so much in the short time since they left the University of Hull and we wish them all the best as they continue to grow and shine in the varying sectors they have gone into.  

Words by Jeni Bird

2 thoughts on “Beyond Hull: Destination Inspiration

  1. What a diverse panel! Not very encouraging for international students, black and other ethnic minorities. Representation matters. At this stage it’s basic and it would serve UoH well to be more inclusive.


    1. Hello and thank you for your feedback, we do take your criticism on board. You are absolutely correct to say that representation matters and this is certainly something that we do take seriously. A panel of speakers should reflect the audience and we do always try to ensure that this is the case. Diversity and inclusion are values that the University of Hull takes very seriously. Thank you for raising this point, it is something that we will discuss further.


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