I am a second year student studying BSc Sustainability and Environmental Management at the University of Leeds.
By being a Laidlaw scholar, I am fortunate enough to have exclusive opportunities presented to me throughout the year through the Laidlaw Foundation website. One of these opportunities was to attend the London Business School EQUALL Women in Business Conference on March 6th 2020. This was an all-day event, featuring women in leadership roles across different sectors, companies which included: ITV, Universal Pictures, Nesta, UK Behavioural Insights Team, Morgan Stanley, Accenture and more. This was not only an exciting way to learn about the different companies and the experiences of the women in these leadership positions, but also a valuable networking opportunity.
After the initial Opening Remarks sessions in the morning, there were different break-out panels which I got to choose to attend to learn more about a specific topic and ask questions to different female leaders. The break-out panels I attended were: ‘The Changing Narrative of Being a Woman’, ‘Growth Mindset’ and ‘Tacking Imposter Syndrome’. These were interesting panel sessions, as they all explored the lives and leadership styles of the speakers, as well as the struggles and negative experiences they have all faced as women in the working world. Through the experience, I also got to meet 2 other Laidlaw Scholars who were also picked to attend this event, but they were not from Leeds, rather they were from the University of Durham and the University of Oxford. This was also a valuable experience, as I had the opportunity to network with other motivated and hard-working students and learn about their Laidlaw projects and what their aspirations are for the future.
I believe this experience helped my studies as it really motivated me to think about where I want to be in my future career, and the steps I need to take in order to get there. Quite recently I have been struggling with my grades and my overall work performance during this year of my degree. But after attending the conference and learning about these women and the motivation and work ethic they have to continue to succeed and pick themselves up again, prompted me to look at where I am now and how I can improve the quality of my work for the rest of the academic year. I am happy to say that after the conference, I had the motivation to start working on an essay I was avoiding, not only because I had a low level of confidence, but because I had hardly any motivation to start. Because of this sudden burst of motivation, I achieved my first 1st class essay of the year, and I did get a bit teary-eyed, but it was much needed. I have been more actively applying for industrial placements for my optional sandwich year next year and feel inspired to keep going and picking myself whenever I hear if I haven’t made it past the interview stage for a job role I really wanted.
One of the break-out panels that really helped me to do this was the ‘Growth Mindset’ panel, which basically looked at what a Growth mindset is in comparison to a Fixed Mindset. Basically, a Fixed Mindset is where someone may not respond positively to feedback or suggestions given to them and will not learn to improve or actively develop their current ways of thinking in order to produce a better outcome. Whereas a Growth Mindset is where someone who looks at feedback as a tool which can help them to progress further and improve on things they may have not done as well previously.
Growth or Fixed Mindsets are not a singular for a person’s overall view on the world, but rather these can be applied to different subcategories in a person’s life and how they respond to feedback given to them. For example, in the workshop panel we discussed that these subcategories could be challenges, obstacles, effort, criticism and success of others. When listening to the woman leading the session, I started to self-analyse which subcategories I perceive having a Growth or Fixed Mindset. I realised that this year I haven’t had the best year in terms of the challenges I faced and the effort I was putting into completing assignments or applying for industrial placements. Now, I try to be self-reflective of the way I respond to challenges and the effort I put in, and try to actively change my mindset when I start to see the way I respond in the moment may be in a fixed way and not in a growth-focused process.