Bolton School Former Pupils
Sophia Saunders (1993-2007)
Sophia is the Resourcing Manager for Team24, a medical recruitment agency which is part of the Capita Group. She recently returned to School to speak at the World of Work Day where she told Year 12 pupils about her experiences of gaining a place on a Graduate Scheme experience, and the career opportunities this has provided.
How did you progress to your current role and what does it involve?
I started off in a Graduate Scheme straight out of University. As I didn’t do a vocational degree (English Language and Linguistics) I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in terms of a career. The Graduate Scheme I did was based in many areas on business; HR, Operations, Finance etc, so it seemed a good starting point. From there I decided the permanent roles I wanted to apply for should be based on the placements within the Scheme I had enjoyed the most. I really enjoy working with people and working on varying projects which was why a Management role, based on a Client site with new projects starting every day, was ideal. I have recently started a new role managing the resourcing, recruitment and compliance teams of a medical agency so there are plenty of new opportunities on the horizon.
Who/what influenced your career choice?
My Mam probably influenced the role I went for initially as it was she who suggested the Graduate Scheme I started on in the first place. However, I have also had some strong and inspiring managers who have really helped to develop me in my ongoing career. Equally, peers, colleagues and people on my team also motivate me each day, so I would say influence has come from all directions.
What skills are essential for your role?
In my new role I am still learning most of the skills from scratch as it is in an industry in which I have had no experience. I am quickly learning, however, that attention to detail is essential on the compliance side. People management, on the other hand, is something I do know and I would say the main skills are empathy and being able to adapt and balance. As mentioned in the previous answer I have had some brilliant managers, so I just try to replicate the best things they have done for me for my teams – imitation is the best form of flattery!
What are the biggest challenges?
Right now it's being in an environment where I am the one asking all the questions rather than being the person being able to answer them, but I suppose that's all part of starting a new role. Day-to-day it's a huge responsibility being in charge of a team and every day there are different problems to solve, although I cannot always give them the answer they want. I have had to learn to balance a budget and my management expectations against what my team want; saying "No" is never going to be something I find easy.
Why did you offer your assistance to School?
It's pretty much a cliché but my years at Bolton School were some of the best times I have had (I know I'm only young, but it's true). Some of the girls I met at School are still my best friends, which I have learnt is pretty rare. I still play netball and lacrosse which I was first introduced to at School. I loved my lessons and all my teachers were fab (apologies if I was ever a bit too hyper in class – it was my way of showing enthusiasm!). In general, Bolton School rivals the best Schools in the country, but with proper lovely Northern accents! I have realised the phrases all those adults spout at you when you're young, when think you know better, such as: "School and uni are the best years of your life" were actually spot on. Selfishly, I wanted to see the School and the teachers again, but I also wanted to try to ensure the pupils understand how lucky they are because it wasn't until I left that I understood what I had here and how much you can achieve after.
Did you enjoy talking to current pupils?
It was quite daunting and I didn't want to come across as lecturing, but, despite the nerves, I really enjoyed giving my presentation; I hope the pupils got something from it. It was amazing to see the School as well: it looks like an American University Campus and the new Riley Centre is lovely – I am pretty jealous! I was also lucky enough to talk to some of my old teachers and even luckier that they remembered me ... I hope that was for good reasons!
I hope I can visit or help out again soon.