Career stories: Rob Fryer, Director of Student Opportunity, University of Leicester
ISE is looking for directors to join its Board, read the career story of former director Rob Fryer.
Almost 21 years ago to the day I left university and was fortunate enough to stumble into a graduate programme. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and soon my employers came to the same conclusion!
Clearly I must have shown some promise (or maybe it was easier than sacking me) but I was transferred into the HR department, with a short brief ‘To put in place an early talent recruitment and selection strategy that ensures we don’t make the same hiring mistake we did with you?’.
To this day, I still work within early talent, 15 years of which was spent leading teams, across the banking, manufacturing and engineering and professional services industries.
Poacher turned game keeper, I joined the University of Leicester, initially leading careers and now a broad portfolio that has covered (in one form or another) the careers service, student engagement teams, student wellbeing services and the sport and active life departments.
There are few life moments that everyone remembers and I bet your first job is likely to be one of them. It is fair to say I feel very privileged to have spent my career helping students and graduates transition into employment, so when I heard the ISE (AGR at the time) was looking for Directors I immediately felt it was something I wanted to contribute too.
One of the best pieces of advice I was given was to not let the experience you gain act like an antibody; experience should help inform innovation and transformational ideas, not look to stifle creativity as ‘we tried if before and it didn’t work’.
So my motivation to join as an ISE Director was to work with thought leaders that focussed on how we can make things happen, not list reasons not to try things.
That is exactly what my experience was; working with a group of like-minded colleagues committed to representing early talent in the best way possible. It opened up my network, challenged my thought processes, informed and helped me develop as an individual and a professional.
What I didn’t realise on joining was that the ISE is in effect a micro-business. The level of exposure to operating and guiding a micro-business was very insightful. In many ways it is a responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly, but working with the team is incredibly rewarding. Having worked for large organisations for all of my career, it was a valuable learning experience that has helped me.
During my time as a director, I took on a lead role for surveys. In addition to the monthly Board meetings, I committed time to developing this area of the ISE provision and leading a task and finish group of volunteers with expertise in the area made up from our membership. It is very rewarding seeing your work having tangible impact and adding value to colleagues across the sector.
I look back at my time on the Board with particular fondness and am proud of my contribution and to continue to be a member of the ISE. I would encourage anyone to consider applying to be an ISE Director; yes it is a big commitment and you need to manage your time carefully, but you will gain so much from the experience on a personal and professional level.