This woman is creating job opportunities for those who can’t do it alone.
Meet the founder of DiVA Apprenticeships, an award-winning recruitment and training organisation that specialises in digital and businesses apprenticeships in the creative sector. We talk to her about the challenges millennials face in the job market and how knowing your values will help you reach your career highs!
Did you have a female role model or someone you admired as a kid?
Not really. I spent part my life in care between the age of 11 to 16, and while I was supported by my foster mother and sister, and admired many qualities they had, I didn’t have a role model as such. However, different people inspired me for different reasons, based on their personalities or skills.
How do you think your early years have influenced what you do today?
Massively. I am resilient and independent, and through my time in foster care, I developed a defence mechanism that taught me to rely on myself. I became self-sufficient and learnt to take control of my destiny. It’s not something I’ve done consciously – it came out of my circumstances at the time but certainly taught me how to roll with the punches. All these qualities underpin what I do today.
You’ve gained business support from the British Library Business & IP Centre. It’s an incredible resource for businesses and startups. How did DiVA benefit from the Centre?
I was on the Innovating for Growth Programme, and it was the first structured business training I’d had. It was free and well resourced; I received access to incredible mentors, budgeting support and the opportunity to widen my network. I am now on the Innovating for Growth Advisory Board, and I also deliver workshops to alumni.
The job market is changing for millennial job seekers. What do you think are the biggest challenges for this generation in joining the job market?
We need to reconsider education and what it means. Education or learning should be presented as a lifelong activity that encompasses many different things. From watching podcasts to reading books, to formal training and qualifications, to engaging with a diverse range of people. We learn in many ways and should remain open to this process throughout our careers.
Our education system is good. However, schools generally get people through a system of sorts but don’t necessarily prepare young people for the working world. At school the focus is on answering questions in a specific way within a specific structure, allowing little room for creativity, free thinking and innovation– all of which are important in the working world.
But to find the right career path, millennials (and the rest of us) need to understand what makes them tick. What their values and their skills are and whether these match with employers. They need to explore who they are, be honest about their strengths, passions, and look for experiences that allow them to work at their best. And don’t be afraid to change careers. No job opportunity is a waste of time. You’re developing transferable skills that will stand you in good stead further down the line whether that’s through employment or entrepreneurship or a combination of both. We live in an age where it’s okay to change careers. A jungle gym has replaced the career ladder!
And if you’re not sure what your values are, think back on the last argument you had. Arguments often happen when your values conflict with those of someone else. When you know your know conflicts – what matters to you – your values will emerge
What are the most common skills in demand in the creative sector right now?
We’re living in a talent-driven market and being deft at digital is key. I read an article recently that said almost 90% of jobs have a digital component attached to them. So, keeping your digital skills up to date, is important. Soft, or foundational skills as I like to call them, are equally important. For example, proactivity, flexibility, a ‘can do’ attitude, communication skills, willingness to learn, desire to succeed, positive mindset, having an ability to build relationships and simply being a genuinely nice person to be around.
You are positive impact personified! What have been some of the most positive results come from the work you do?
I love helping to “Boss Up!” and take ownership of their careers whether that’s through employment or entrepreneurship or a mixture of the two. When our Apprentices get a full-time job, or one of my coaching clients achieves success as defined by them, I’m well chuffed!
How do you keep learning more while on the job?
Oh, I love learning. I attend a lot of industry-related conferences and training courses related to my work. I’m a people person as well – I love meeting new people from different cultures and communities and learning more about their perspective on life. I’m nosey and like to ask questions. You can learn as much from a 5-year-old as you do from a 50-year-old if you keep an open mind. I soak up books and podcasts too on everything from leadership to baking (I love cake!) to mental wellbeing. I can recommend Woman Evolve with Sarah Jakes Roberts, The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins and The Master Key System by Charles Haanel, which are great for helping you to breakdown barriers blocking your success.
What have been the essential factors that have enabled you to get to where you are today that you think you'd struggle without?
My faith. It’s my foundation and underpins everything I do — my family and friends for their unconditional love. Also, journaling has been important for me in getting all the stress out. Meditation, exercise and eating good food (with some treats!). Taking time out to binge on Netflix is also something that keeps me sane.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Sounds cheesy, but I’m doing what I love and know why I do it. I get excited that my work has a positive impact. That generally gets me out of bed in the morning. On those days when I frankly can’t be bothered, I try to think of at least three things that are going well. I’ll then break my day into tiny chunks, starting with fun, easy stuff first. Sometimes the tiny wins are all we need to get started.
What do you think is missing from businesses in building true diversity?
Honest dialogue, without the emotive language, and over sensitivity and caution to discuss sensitive topics such as race or gender. Empathy is also missing. A lack of direct experience of another’s pain is not the basis for dismissal. It should be viewed as an opportunity to learn, to empathise and to show solidarity.
Who's a woman to watch or someone you admire in 2019?
There are a lot of women I respect, for different reasons but I couldn’t pick one.
Name the quote you live by
Be transformed by the renewal of your mind’ (Romans 12:2)