Skip to main content

Meet the Solent Futures team

The Solent Futures Team sits within Student Experience. Whatever your career query, someone on our team can answer it or point you in the right direction. 

If you want to find out more about what each team member does and how to contact them, click on one of the tabs below. 


Deputy Head of Student Experience (Careers)

Liz Hillawi

Professional background
I studied chemistry at university and admit that I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a result of it. After a short time as a recruitment consultant in pharmaceuticals, I became a science teacher. I worked in secondary schools and sixth forms managing large teams for 12 years before making the move to Solent to manage Solent Futures. I am passionate about students being on the right track for the eventual careers choices that they will make by supporting the team to provide good quality advice and access to good quality events. I also work on specific employability initiatives to support the Access and Participation plan and Graduate Outcomes.

How I support students
I support students by ensuring that the careers team deliver great quality employability and enterprise information throughout the curriculum and alongside their studies to ensure that they succeed both during and after their degree.

Solent Futures administrative assistant

Gwen Goodger

Careers advisers

Careers adviser

Victoria Simpson BA(Hons), PGCE, PGDipCG, RCDP, PGCLT(HE), FHEA

Professional background

I have been a careers adviser for over 20 years, providing one-to-one employability information, advice and guidance to all ages, and offering expertise in the design and delivery of career learning experiences within compulsory, further, and higher education. My career path of educational and occupational experience has included: undergraduate and postgraduate study at four universities; roles as a secretarial 'temp', personal assistant, and human resources administrator for a diverse range of private and public sector organisations; planning and facilitating learning in secondary schools as a teacher of religious education; and a transformational year working as a community service volunteer in an area of high deprivation, supporting vulnerable adults with complex mental health needs.

How I help students

Using vocational guidance and counselling skills, I enable individuals to identify and explore career options, aspirations and graduate opportunities; encouraging them to build confidence, recognise capabilities, and grow connections; and empowering students and alumni to become 'career-ready' to achieve positive graduate outcomes. Using career pedagogy and labour market intelligence, I design and deliver careers education within and alongside the curriculum; facilitating employability workshops, and collaborating with colleagues to embed directed, collaborative, and guided career learning activities into course content within the University's virtual learning platform.

Careers adviser

David Whistance
023 8201 6001

Before joining Solent Futures, I enjoyed working as a careers adviser in places such as the University of Southampton, University of the Creative Arts, and National Careers Service. I also provide counselling to people who live in and around Southampton (and further afield over video) and run creative counselling workshops for trainee and experienced therapists. 

While I’m particularly proud of leading on projects such as developing Future Me, our holistic career learning resource, creating this would not have been possible without help from my fantastic colleagues within Solent Futures, Solent Creatives, and the wider University.

How I help students 

Are you confused about what to do after uni, or have a plan but keep hitting problems along the way? If so, my careers adviser colleagues, Jude and Victoria, like me, would love to meet you for confidential and impartial discussions to help you sort through your career issues on your way to creating a great career.

Help desk and student engagement

Student employability adviser

Kelsey Bland

Professional background

Having graduated with a 2:1 in History, I left university not knowing what I wanted to do next. I initially worked in insurance and pensions (which was not really the best fit for me) before moving into local government recruitment where I worked up to the role of recruitment adviser. I now put my years as a recruitment professional to good use supporting students via our virtual appointments, on our drop in desk, and through workshops and interactive sessions.

How I help students

As part of my role, I aim to create an environment where students feel empowered to explore their strengths, and career aspirations. One of the best things about supporting students with your career questions is witnessing your proffessional development as you become increasingly aware of your abilities and the way you can apply these to your future career.

Overall, my goal is to support you to start out on your professional journey, making sure you have the skills, confidence and knowledge to succeed in your chosen path.

Student employability adviser

Mhairi MacMillan

Professional background

My career to date has been really varied and I have worked in different industries in different roles that span from recruitment to marketing. Each role has given me the opportunity to develop different skill sets and has enabled me to keep evolving and learning, which I love.

How I help students

My passion for helping and supporting people led me to Solent University and I use my knowledgebase and experience to provide students with a broad range of employability support, hopefully helping them in their journey to understand, realise and work towards their career goals. It’s the best part of our job to feel like we have had a positive impact on shaping who our Solent students become during their time here, and also once they graduate.

Student employability adviser

Ruhina Noory

Professional background

My passion has always been to work with other people to help them reach their potential. After graduating from a Psychology (Education) degree, I had the opportunity to work with our wonderful students. I started working as an enterprise project co-ordinator, providing invaluable enterprise advice and support encouraging students to embrace enterprise activities to improve their experience while they are at university. I then had the role of student employability adviser, delivering employability group and 1-2-1 information, advice and training to the students and recent graduates. I have recently completed a Level 5 Diploma in Leadership and Management, which introduced me to the roles and responsibilities of managers and leaders, and strengthen my leadership and business skills.

How I help students

I work directly with the students and recent graduates both online and in person though 1-2-1 meetings and delivering central careers workshops, providing careers information and advice on CVs and job application process, finding work, start-ups, placements and graduate work. The experience of working in higher education in the last five years combined with my psychology background, has immensely helped me to learn more about myself and others. I guide students towards greater self-awareness and encourage communication to support and motivate them in their career journeys.

Solent Creatives

Sally Saunders

Head of Solent Creatives & Start Ups

Professional background

From childhood, I was the ‘creative’ one, and that passion led me to study graphic design at Berkshire College of Art & Design. My journey started as a studio junior/runner in a Covent Garden agency the day after graduation, immersing me in the world of creativity.

For over a decade, I climbed the creative ladder to land a senior designer role at the esteemed Ogilvy Advertising, working on mega-brands including Nestle, Harrods, British Airways, Ericsson, and Heathrow. Later, I became a senior designer at the BBC, working on iconic shows including Blue Planet, Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, Who Do You Think You Are?, Holby City, Children in Need, and Top Gear. To name a few!

Life took an unexpected turn with a corporate restructure, paving the way for me to become a freelance graphic designer niching in branding. For more than two decades, I’ve helped countless companies globally build brands they love.

Yet, my desire to support fellow creatives lingered. I yearned to be the mentor I wished I had during my early years at art school and early in the industry...this led me to Solent Creatives. Here, I can leverage all my experiences to guide and inspire the next generation of creative minds.

How I help students

I collaborate with Solent students aspiring for a freelance career, ensuring they are well-prepared upon graduation. Equipping them with the essential knowledge for success, I focus not only on their creative skills but also on the business perspective. Succeeding as a freelancer requires proficiency in both aspects. I aim to be the mentor I wished for, providing honest, real-world guidance and advice whenever they need it.

Adam Long

Solent Creatives Advisor

Professional background

Media has been my consistent passion for over 12 years. I have a deep love for music and have been fortunate enough to work as a sound designer on multiple high-level commercial projects.

I am proud to have graduated from Solent University with a MA in Creative Enterprise and a BA in Digital Music. My qualifications allowed me take charge on key creative projects that have included magazine design, video editing, social media marketing, and graphic design.

How I help students

My main focus as part of Solent Creatives is to be able to assist students with finding freelance work alongside their studies. I’ll be there to offer support and guidance throughout the entire process, making sure the students and the clients are happy with the outcome.

Additionally, I will use my media skills to offer creative direction support for student projects. I am also dedicating considerable effort to social media marketing, aiming to enhance awareness among students and companies interested in taking advantage of our services.

Linking with employers and developing online resources

Employer projects co-ordinator

Liz Wright

Employer engagement adviser

Himaya Kumaradasa