Despina - University of Sheffield, Geography
Date attended Ashmole: 2002-2009
A Levels: Maths, Geography, Biology, Physical Education
University: The University of Sheffield
Course: Geography BSc
What are you doing now?
I currently work for ASOS, the fastest growing online fashion retailer in the UK. My role as a Contact Centre Manager is based within Customer Care, a dynamic multi-lingual and multi-channel environment, where the quality of our Customer Care, and the after-care experience, is core to our brand proposition. I’m responsible for large scale teams of Advisors, approx. 250, who deal directly with our customers across a number of contact channels. In addition to driving performance across the Operation, I also evaluate business results and identify opportunities for improvement and growth.
What did/do you get involved with at university?
Starting university was an eye opening experience for me. Like many other students, this was my first time away from home, in an unfamiliar city, without the family and friends I had grown up with. The University of Sheffield made it easy for me to settle in with plenty of opportunities to get involved and build relationships. Our Student Union was pretty awesome and there were a number of societies you could join. In my first year, I made some great friends through joining the Ultimate Frisbee, Rock Climbing and Ski Club Societies.
In addition, as part of my course there were many opportunities to travel. I was fortunate enough to travel to California and visit the Mojave Desert as part of my third year field class. I also visited Lyme Regis as part of my dissertation and regularly stayed in the Peak District.
My course was fairly demanding, but the hard work paid off as I graduated with a First Class BSc Geography degree, and was awarded the Accenture Prize for best overall performance in combined Physical and Human Geography. Going to university was one of the best experiences, I didn’t just get a degree, I gained invaluable life skills too.
What did you find most valuable about your experiences at Ashmole Academy? What skills did it help you to develop?
It wasn’t until I was coming to the end of my first year of Sixth Form that I decided I wanted to attend university, and chose Geography as my degree. I could have made this decision earlier had I known the career I wanted to pursue, but unlike most who, for example, aspired to be lawyers, teachers or accountants, I was unsure. As I was unsure, I was given the advice to keep my options open and study a broad range of A-levels. This advice proved fundamental to my future; when it came to making my degree choice I hadn’t limited my choices.
Through the subjects I studied and the passion of my teachers, I learnt many transferable skills including teamwork, communication and problem solving. There are also many things I learnt at Ashmole that, at the time, many of us questioned how valuable they would be later in life. I always look back at those moments and smile. Trust me, you will find yourself putting what you’ve learnt into practice! I’ve visited Austria and Germany many a times and been able to successfully string a sentence together - thanks to my German GCSE!
Which Programme/s did you get involved in during 6th Form e.g. MedSoc, Oxbridge?
The teachers would continually go above and beyond to provide extra support outside of teaching hours. In the run up to exams and coursework deadlines, additional revision classes were available and when applying to university the process was made trouble-free. From deciding what course to study and where, to writing a personal statement, the support and encouragement was second to none.
What top tips would you give to other students wishing to follow a similar career to yours?
The reality is, that once you’ve completed your studies, the majority of your time is spent at work. It’s important to find a job you love and not accept anything less. I’m very lucky that, at ASOS, I’m continually learning, working with fantastic people, and encouraged to be myself. When you’re doing something you enjoy you’ll naturally grow and develop, which will in turn unlock new opportunities.
In true ASOS style, I’d encourage everyone to be authentic, brave and creative in everything that they do.
Please write a quote that sums up your experience at Ashmole.
“Ashmole gave me the drive to be the best that I can be. Our teachers were truly passionate about setting every student up for success.”