Sheffield Connections image

Sheffield Connections

Sheffield Connections is your chance to meet inspirational and successful University of Sheffield alumni.

About Sheffield Connections

Networking with Sheffield alumni and hearing their stories gave me real inspiration and confidence.

University of Sheffield Student

Ten to twelve students will have the opportunity to meet a University of Sheffield graduate in an informal, relaxed setting. Students are able to ask questions about the graduate's time at Sheffield and career, as well as discussing their own career options or University choices.

This is a fantastic opportunity to learn where a degree from Sheffield can take you, receive tailored advice and develop your networking skills.

Sign up to meet the graduates by completing the short registration forms below.

Upcoming events

Please check this website for up-coming Sheffield Connections dates and look out for your Announce emails.

Sanjay Parekh, CEO of Podcast Media Network, BA Business Studies, 1992

On Wednesday 8 May 2019 we welcomed Sanjay Parekh back to campus

Sanjay is responsible for growing and delivering business goals and all the major decision making within Podcast Media Network. He was the CEO and co-founder of two previous businesses; Cocoon Labs and WebExpenses. In his early career he was a middle office accountant for various City banks and before that trained as a chartered management accountant at British Gas Exploration. Sanjay applied for almost one hundred graduate trainee positions following graduation before he secured his first role. Click here to listen to his Business of Meaning podcast.

What advice do you have for students who wish to pursue a career such as yours?
“Being persistent in the pursuit of your goals and working hard at your business will yield results if you have developed the right skills that your business needs. When you are first starting out, be patient. You have a long career ahead of you and it’s important in your early years to develop and learn a real skill, and get some great experience. In your early career you can afford to take risks, as there is plenty of time for you to recover if your business does not work out as expected.”

What are you most proud of so far?
“Creating, growing, then selling two companies that my co-founders and I created from nothing.”

What do you look for in graduates that you hire?
“The ability to think for themselves, to get along with others, to be willing to learn, and adapt and share what they know. I also look for those who have developed interests and had success outside of academic life, especially if that achievement meant overcoming significant personal challenges.”

How did your qualification and time at Sheffield help you in your career?
“I learnt to manage my time effectively to meet my academic and social goals. This ability has been incredibly useful as I navigated multiple different industries at a senior level whilst leading a balanced home life. My course gave me a broad understanding of the world of business. At the time, business education at a university was relatively rare, and Sheffield was an early pioneer in university undergraduate business education. Socially, I mixed with a wide variety of people from different backgrounds. This helped me understand diverse points of view and developed my team working skills.”

What is your best memory of Sheffield?
“There are so many! Probably the first few days when I met my very best friends, who I still see regularly nearly 30 years later.”

Susan Belcher, Associate Hospital Manager, hosted an event on Friday 29 March 2019

Susan graduated in 1985 with a degree in Business Studies and is an Associate Hospital Manager for North East London Foundation Trust. Her responsibilities include chairing appeals relating to people who have been sectioned under the Mental Health Act. She is also a cover supervisor at two senior schools and an exam invigilator. 

Early career: Susan began her career working as an accountant at Conoco UK Ltd, an oil and gas exploration and production company. Starting out in the Head Office, she went on to work on a variety of projects building oil and gas rigs. 

Personal achievements: At the London 2012 Paralympic Games Susan was proud to be a volunteer Gamesmaker and worked as an International Paralympic Committee Assistant helping the team from the United Arab Emirates. Susan is a valued member of the University's Alumni Board and regularly attends University events as an alumni volunteer. She also won the Alumni Volunteer of the Year Award at the evening's Thank You Event on 29 March!

Joshua Taylor, Airline Pilot, hosted an event on Tuesday 12 February 2019

Joshua graduated in 2015 with an MEng degree in Aerospace Engineering with Private Pilot Instruction, and got involved in activities with the RAF Reserve on the Yorkshire Universities Air Squadron whist he was studying. Here’s what he says about his time at Sheffield and career journey so far:

Q: How did your qualification and your time at Sheffield help you in your career?
A: Studying at University taught me to learn. Being an Airline Pilot is hard work. Studying flight manuals, air laws, SOPs and regulations that are updated regularly in what is probably one of the most dynamic working environments in the world is a challenge. Being responsible for my own study allowed me to really get to grips with the work I am required to do on a daily basis; while still providing me with support required to succeed.

Q: What has been your proudest moment so far in your career?
A: The first time I flew a jet was an easyJet A319-156 out of Liverpool Airport during base training. I can’t adequately describe the feeling of flying a jet in the circuit there. 26 years of hard work had led to that moment.

Q: What advice do you have for students who wish to pursue a career such as yours?
A: The aviation industry has a shortfall in qualified Pilots. However, selection is difficult and for many, not something they succeed in first time. You have to be persistent. Flying with an Airline is an amazing job, but most Pilots have had their setbacks and it’s rare that this is something that works directly first time. Keep pushing and you’ll see the rewards.

Andy Marsh, BA Business Studies 1991, and colleague Ben Cartwright, hosted Career Success with Sheffield Connections in November 2018

We were pleased to welcome Andy Marsh, Managing Partner, and Ben Cartwright, Investment Manager, of Beechtree Private Equity back to campus on Wednesday 21st November for an interview skills and speed networking session with Sheffield Connections. The session included advice and skills development to help students have a clearer idea of the career paths that are available within Private Equity, that could also be applied to many other types of career or industry.

Recent graduate, Ben Cartwright, has recent experience of the recruitment process from both sides. Within his role with Beechtree Private Equity, Ben is responsible for recruitment. Sheffield alumnus, Andy Marsh, is a co-founder of the company. He has offices in Manchester and Birmingham. Following his well-received and informative Sheffield Connections session in the 2017-18 academic year, we’ve invited him back to help current students by providing additional in-depth, and often personal, advice.

Andy Marsh Beechtree PE Ben Cartwright Beechtree PE

The networking sessions provide students with a chance to ask specific questions about the alumni’s academic and industrial experience. This is an informal meeting where the conversation is led by the student attendees. University of Sheffield alumni have a huge wealth of experience and knowledge which they are keen to share with current students from any discipline who feel they would benefit.

If you would like to find out more about how alumni can support you then please take a look at the other activities available.

Let us know which careers you are interested in and sign up to stay up to date with all our events here

Past events: 2017-18

  • Ian Archbold, Economics 1989, Global Performance and Reward Director, Diageo PLC
  • Andy Marsh, BA Business Studies 1991, Managing Partner of Beech Tree Private Equity and former Investment Director. Read more here.
  • Guilherme Guimarães, MSc Sport and Recreation Management 2008, former Head of Sport (Twitter Brazil), general manager of Ativa Esporte. Read more here.
  • Peter Bains, BA Physiology & Zoology 1979, CEO of Sosei (biopharmaceuticals). Read more here.
  • Ian Gilbert, LLB Law 1978, Managing Partner at Walker Morris. Read more here.
  • David Aitman, BA English Literature 1979, Partner at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. Read more here.
  • Phil Lynas, BA Buisness Studies 1985, founder of All About Food. Read more here.
  • Paul Infield, LLB Law 1979, Barrister, 36 Group, London. Read more here.
  • Andrew Hall, MA Criminology 1977, Barrister, Doughty Street Chambers, London. Read more here.

Past events: 2016-17

  • Wayne Garvie, PhD History 1989, Chief Creative Officer, Sony Pictures Television
  • Susanna Chiu, BA Economics 1982, Director & Group Chief Representative - Li & Fung Development (China) Ltd
  • Penny Hughes CBE, BSc Chemistry 1980, Non-Executive Director RBS, WM Morrison Supermarkets, Home Retail Group
  • Teresa Robson-Capps, PhD Economics 1990, Non-Executive Director at Clydesdale Bank

Past events: 2015-16

  • Mike Anderson, BA History 1985, Managing Director and Wealth Manager at Coutts Co.
  • Peter Chambers, BA Geography 1979, Senior Advisor, Europe at Casey Quirk & Associates LLC.
  • Mo Sacoor, MBChB Medicine 1963, Chairman at Sacoor Medical Group
  • Rick Turner, BSc Psychology 1979, Senior Scientific Director of Clinical Communications at Quintiles
  • Charles Mynors, MA Town and Regional Planning 1977, Barrister at Francis Taylor Building
  • Joe Twyman, BA Politics 1998, Head of Political and Social Research at YouGov

To find out more, please read our volunteering stories.

Sheffield Connections students with Mo Sacoor

What do our successful alumni look for in the graduates that they hire?

  • Intelligence, spark, commitment, team working skills and common sense, plus the ability to think independently.
  • First impressions are very important. A neat and tidy appearance, politeness, enthusiasm for the job and subject, as well as the ability to express themselves clearly and precisely, are all important.
  • Enthusiasm and the ability to work hard, adapt and be flexible – the world is changing quicker than ever before.
  • Those who've differentiated themselves from others - what would an interviewer remember you for, apart from your degree qualification?

Sheffield Connections students with Rick Turner

Alumni advice for students:

  • As with everything in life, you'll get out what you put in - so put lots in! Work hard, join a club, go to an event - every experience counts.
  • Make sure you get a good mentor and make sure you impress those who you need to impress.
  • Always, always network.
  • Try to enjoy what you do and if you don’t, find out why and sort it out. Life is too short!
  • Try not to not take on a job because you think it will be well paid or because your friends are looking at doing the same thing.
  • Take opportunities when they arise.
  • Learn from your mistakes, because you will make them!