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The University of Southampton
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Kerrie Holland

BSc Politics and International Relations, 1997

Kerrie graduated in 1997
Kerrie Holland

What was your first job after graduating?

I joined Reed (the recruitment company) as part of their graduate training scheme.

What is your current job?

Volunteer Relationship Manager at the University of Birmingham.

What has been your favourite job since you graduated?

My current role is my favourite job, as I feel I am contributing something really worthwhile to the University and the students. The University of Birmingham is a great place to work, my office is in a hundred-year-old building and the campus is beautiful. The pace and the way staff are valued is very different to the private sector. Having said that, the opportunities I had in my recruitment career to use my initiative and take on new responsibilities were fantastic and it's a lot of fun to work in.

What have been the turning points in your career?

I was headhunted in 2003 by a former manager who moved to a small venture-capital backed business - I accepted the role and went to develop the systems and processes they needed to prepare for sale - they were eventually bought by Hays. It was a risky decision at the time but moving to a smaller company meant my career accelerated as I had a much broader view of how businesses are run. The most significant turning point was to move into alumni relations - I was slightly apprehensive about starting in a field about which I knew nothing, but so far it seems my skills have been transferable. It's been really refreshing making a big change and doing something totally different.

Do you have any regrets about decisions you have made about your career?

I stayed in recruitment longer than I thought I would, partly because I had three children in 4 years and wanted to maintain some stability in my career while my home life was so demanding. I think I ran the risk of being pigeonholed by staying in the same sector, although I tried to keep my roles and skills as varied as possible.

What are you most proud of?

I'm really proud of myself for completing my CIPD qualification, it took me 5 years as I had my first two children and was working. It's the recognised qualification for people working in HR. I eventually gained my Chartered Member statue in 2005 as you have to demonstrate the required level of senior experience as well as completing the (usually 3 year) qualification. I also completed my PRINCE2 project management qualification in 2009. I'm also proud that I got to a position where my employers agreed I could work part time while my children were young (extremely rare in recruitment which is a long-hours culture).

What advice would you give to Southampton graduates?

Make the most of the opportunities in whatever job you get, even if it is not your first choice of career. You can do plenty to develop yourself and your CV and it's worth having a think about it every couple of months. I felt a little de-skilled in my last year or two at Hays - I had moved into a line management role to develop those skills but it restricted my opportunities to get involved in contracts, project management, quality management etc. I started doing some freelance work; partly for the money but mainly to demonstrate I had other skills. Say yes to anything interesting, ask if you can shadow people who are working on projects which you would like to be involved in, take up any training and development you are offered.

Why did you decide to do your course?

I grew up in a politically active family and have always been interested. Politics and International Relations is fascinating and complex.

How did your education at Southampton prepare you for your chosen career?

Studying a Social Science gave me an excellent grounding in research skills, statistics, and communication skills.

Why would you recommend studying at Southampton?

It's a nice campus in a nice city - and has an excellent reputation with potential employers.

If you could start your time at University again, what would you do differently?

I would have sorted some relevant work experience/internships instead of going home for the holidays and working in a call centre. I also would have tried to get a better balance between my social life and my course, with more of a focus on the latter.

What are your future career plans?

I'm very much enjoying working in Development and Alumni Relations. It's still fairly new to me, but I think my career will develop in this sector.

Are you still in touch with fellow alumni?

Yes - one.

Have you been back to campus since you graduated?


How else are you involved with the University and your alumni community?


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