History gives you a very logical and reasoned approach. So I'm able to write well and express myself very well

Photo of Della Sewell
Della Sewell
Director of HR - Leicester College
BA History
Della Sewell explains how her History degree gave her skills that she uses in her role as Director of HR at Leicester College. This includes sitting on a senior management team, writing effective reports and keeping up to date with changes in legislation surrounding HR.

A transcript of the video:

Hi, my name is Della Sewell and I am the director of HR at Leicester college. I was a history degree student in the 1980s and really enjoyed both the course and being at Sheffield university. I studied at Sheffield because I really liked Sheffield. I think it's a great place to live, especially when you're a student. In fact, both my daughters have studied in Sheffield, so we're from Nottingham. It's far enough away to be away, but close enough if you need your parents in an emergency. So I decided to go to Sheffield once I'd had a look around looked around the history department which was on, I think it's Clarkson Road at the time. I wanted to do history because I loved the subject at school and really enjoyed it. 

Once I left university, it was a time of recession. And it was a difficult time. I didn't really know what I wanted to do. I didn't want to be a teacher. So I applied for several jobs, didn't get anywhere. So I took a fairly basic clerical job to start with in the NHS and then decided to move into what was then called Personnel because I thought it was a nice mixture of working with people, but also doing something quite professional and quite technical. 

So my current role here at Leicester college. I'm the director of HR, member of the senior leadership team, responsible for a team of 15 people delivering HR services. So we we pay people, we recruit people. Sometimes we have to dismiss people, but not too often, we always hope. And we also work on things like culture change and supporting managers in managing people and getting the best out of them I really enjoy the role because it's really, really varied. The one thing about HR is you never know what you're going to encounter on the day. 

Some of the biggest challenges I face are things like changes in legislation or case law and some of the cultural changes that we have to achieve. So it's a very mixed role. You can be doing casework one day or you can be leading a workshop another day or networking with other HR professionals. So really varied role and very enjoyable. 

I think my history degree prepared me for working life and prepared me to work in this type of role. Because what I found is it gives you a very logical and reasoned approach. So I'm able to write well and express myself very well, do research to think things through and articulate them either verbally or writing reports and I write lots of reports. I've found those sort of written skills that I learnt whilst doing my degree have really helped me along the way. 

I've also been a chair of governors for a couple of primary schools in Nottinghamshire. Really enjoyed those, really interesting work. And again, helped me to develop my skills particularly around attending meetings, participating in meetings, and chairing, chairing the governing body. So I think giving something back is really important. And I would encourage you to do that. 

In terms of being a prospective student. I'd say go to Sheffield, it's fantastic place to study. I'm sure it hasn't changed in that respect since I was there a long time ago. Current history students, make the most of it. It's a fantastic city to be in, fantastic city to study in. And you will acquire skills that you can use in the workplace. So best wishes to all of you and good luck for the future. Thank you.

Stay connected with your University

Experience all the benefits and services that come from being a Sheffield graduate.