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Meet the Solent Futures team

The Solent Futures Team sits within Student Experience. Whatever your career query, someone on your 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. 

 

Management team

Head of Student Experience

Alexandra Banks

alexandra.banks@solent.ac.uk

Deputy Head of Student Experience (Careers)

Meredith Smith

I am an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy with a degree in Fine Art Textiles from Goldsmiths College, University of London. I have worked in higher education within careers services for 19 years, leading projects to support student and graduate employability and latterly managing the Careers Service at Solent. Before that I worked for the BBC in London designing careers education events and working with the media industry on large scale events. I have extensive experience developing relationships with businesses to support students and graduates. 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 Service team deliver employability and enterprise information, advice and guidance within the curriculum and to students and graduates to ensure they succeed during and after their degree.

Contact details

meredith.smith@solent.ac.uk

Solent Futures administrative assistant

Gwen Goodger

gwen.goodger@solent.ac.uk

Freelancing and business start ups

Enterprise Lead

Kelly King PG Dip CG, CMI

Professional background

Having worked in education for 19 years (yikes!), I have had many roles, but always with the aim of helping students to turn their dreams into a reality! I have worked in many different settings as a careers adviser, but the real adventure started when I joined Solent in 2016 and shortly after, became a manager. I soon realised that I really enjoyed management and having a more strategic input into employability and enterprise plans at Solent. Fast forward, and I am now enterprise lead within Solent Futures which combines the strategic and managerial role that I love, but I also get to see the amazing work of our entrepreneurial minded students and graduates! Their creativity and innovation is very inspiring, and I am constantly wowed by the talent of our student community.

How my role supports students

My role involves championing enterprise and developing plans that maximise opportunities for our students. I manage a dedicated enterprise team, including the Solent Creatives team and our business adviser, who ensure we are providing a tip top service for students who are interested in freelancing/business start-up as a career.

Contact: kelly.king@solent.ac.uk

Business Adviser

Nicky Curtis

Professional background

I started my first business in my early twenties soon after leaving college. Like my family who were all in business, I could not see myself working for anyone else. When I started my first business I did have a direction but other business opportunities emerged as it often does when you are in an entrepreneurial environment. I started in bespoke vehicle renovation for the rich and famous moving into corporate clothing, event management, manufacturing and logistics and education. Despite the need to be independent I have also had the opportunity to work in corporate life as a business adviser; business development adviser, supporting economic development ,and on educational projects in further and higher education, as well as a university governor. My corporate roles has always been about supporting start-up businesses or those seeking support to grow their businesses to the next level.

How my role supports students

At Solent my passion and role is to encourage any of you with a business idea to explore its endless possibilities. I offer 1-2-1 business advice to help you develop your idea and support to develop your business plan for funding or external support programmes. Despite there being plenty of information on how to start a business ‘you and your business idea are individual’ so I would always encourage anyone starting out or moving their business to the next level to book in for a chat even if you are clear on your direction.

Email: nicky.curtis@solent.ac.uk
Mobile: 07770 901208

Solent Creatives Manager

Grace Burton

Professional background

I trained in radio and press journalism before studying International Politics at university, where I spent most of my time editing the student newspaper and avoiding lectures. I’ve got an eclectic mix of qualifications including project management, law, communications and understanding autism.

After graduating I did two terms as a sabbatical officer at my students’ union and since then I’ve worked at several universities, as well as putting in a shift with a software company. I joined Solent University from the University of Southampton’s start-up accelerator, Future Worlds, where I helped researchers to launch start-ups and spinouts.

I’m also a freelancer copywriter and marketer; I specialise in working with small business owners and I love working with them to craft the messages that will land with their customers.

How my role supports students

Solent Creatives can help you find freelancing experience and grow your skills, and I can help you understand how to work with clients, build your portfolio.

Contact details 

grace.burton@solent.ac.uk: happy to be contacted by email or Teams

Or, find me in the Solent Creatives studio (JM109, accessed through the Spark)

Solent Creatives Graduate Intern

Molly Foulger

Professional background

I’m a 2022 graduate of Solent University; I studied BA (Hons) Media Production with a foundation year here after doing film and photography courses at college. My course taught me all sorts of media skills, but my main passion is photography. I’ve had my work exhibited at two degree shows, including in 2019 when I was the only foundation year student to have their work shown.

I’m also a freelance photographer specialising in portraits, live events and weddings.

How my role supports students

Solent Creatives can help you find freelancing experience and grow your skills, and I’m here as the friendly face! I manage our kit and help match students to clients, so you’re always welcome to ask me anything about freelancing, media production or University more generally. I’m happy to help!

Contact details 

molly.foulger@solent.ac.uk or find me in the Solent Creatives studio (JM109, accessed through the Spark)

Careers advisers

Lead careers adviser

Laia Auge Poch 

Professional background

I am a qualified careers professional and I have worked in the careers and employability sector for more than 12 years. Having experienced professional careers support myself when planning a career change 12 years ago, I am a passionate advocate for the provision of high quality and meaningful careers guidance support and I am genuinely driven to support students and graduates find their career path and purpose. I love working with others, especially students, graduates and academic colleagues, to design engaging projects that enhance people's career curiosity and confidence. In a previous career I worked as a project manager in the not-for-profit sector, delivering initiatives with a social impact, so I have a strong belief in social justice and I am always keen to get involved in actions that promote social mobility. Outside of my professional persona I love cycling and the sea.

How I help students

I am currently leading the amazing team of career advisers at Solent Futures, a team that supports students and graduates to develop their self-awareness, self-efficacy, and career management skills so they can navigate their post degree working life and career with confidence. As a team we plan high-quality and engaging career interventions to support students achieve their career aspirations and gain career confidence. We work with our academics colleagues to embed careers and employability education in the curriculum, delivering in-curriculum interventions designed to build student's career readiness. I love working with others to make things happen so do not hesitate to get in touch.

Contact details 

laia.augepoch@solent.ac.uk

Careers adviser

Jude Hanley

Professional background

I have worked as a careers adviser for over 25 years, with the last 10 of those in higher education. In addition, I am a careers writer and member of the Careers Writers Association, a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and an LGBTQ+ Stonewall authentic workplace role model. As well as the NVQ4 in Guidance, I hold a CMI Certificate in Coaching and Mentoring, Basic Proofreading, BPS Level A in Psychometric Testing, and BA (Hons) in Humanities with Creative Writing. My particular interest is in supporting students from the LGBTQ+ community and with this in mind, I have written articles which have been published, conducted research, and delivered staff training. 

How I help students

I work with all students across the University as well as prospective students and graduates. I write and deliver central workshops which are open to any student, as well as bespoke sessions within the curriculum to specific course groups. Through providing impartial 1-2-1 careers guidance, I aim to raise students' confidence and support their career decision to enable them to have a positive outcome upon graduation.

Contact details 

judith.hanley@solent.ac.uk

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.

Contact details

victoria.simpson@solent.ac.uk

Careers adviser

David Whistance

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.

Contact details 

david.whistance@solent.ac.uk

023 8201 6001

Help desk and student engagement

Student engagement coordinator

Louise Helps

Contact details

louise.helps@solent.ac.uk

Student employability adviser

Kelsey Killoran

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

I really enjoy meeting with Solent students and helping you to realise all the wonderful skills you have gained as part of your degree and how you can apply them to the world of work.

Contact details

kelsey.killoran@solent.ac.uk

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.

Contact details

mhairi.macmillan@solent.ac.uk

Student employability adviser

Ruhina Noory

Contact details

ruhina.noory@solent.ac.uk

Linking with employers and developing online resources

Employer projects co-ordinator

Liz Wright

liz.wright@solent.ac.uk

Employer engagement adviser

James Hamstead

james.hamstead@solent.ac.uk

Online employability officer

Ann Jones

Professional background

I have a BA in History which was followed by a career in legal publishing in the US and the UK. I started at Solent University over 20 years ago when it was Southampton Institute, earning a PG Cert in Blended Learning along the way. 

How I help students

I work with the Solent Futures team to make sure our online information is clear, accurate and engaging. Let me know if you have ideas for how we can improve the Portal, Solent Futures Online, the student app, or the information on the Solent University external website.

Contact details

ann.jones@solent.ac.uk