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Resilience – it can really make the difference

Posted by. Brett Arnall
Posted on 01 December 2017

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​​​​The Friday of Journalism and Media Week and Professional Development Week featured two alumni guest speakers who based their talks around resilience. Both talks provided great advice not just to the students in the room but to the staff and other visitors. Brett Arnall, Alumni Relations Officer, went along to find out more.

Whether you are studying for a degree or doing any job, resilience is something that can get you through the hard days and lead to greater successes. 

Our first speaker during the day was Graham Sykes, who studied Media at Leeds Trinity 1991-94. Graham is Head of Agency for Fourteen19, a company that delivers innovative youth engagement services across the UK. This includes clients such as the FA, Sports Leaders UK, NHS England, Canal and River Trust and Centrepoint.

Graham's talk was a very open and honest account of how he would do things differently and how he has reacted when things haven't gone as planned. One of the most prominent examples he gave of his resilience was actually how he secured his place with us. After initially being told he'd have to wait 18 months to commence his Media degree he noticed Leeds Trinity staff at a Careers event one day and spoke to them about how much he wanted to enrol on the Media course. After demonstrating how passionate he was about the course he was recommended to contact the Head of Department. So, he phoned them and was so enthusiastic about studying he secured a place two months later as a mature student.

During his time studying Graham had his ideal six-week placement at an Air Base fall through due to a change in personnel.  He didn't let this hamper his plans to ensure he had a meaningful time so he took it upon himself to phone round different companies; this saw him secure a role with a Research Company in Mayfair. It built his confidence and helped him to realise he could really make it in this industry.

Fourteen19 added some stories to their website after Graham's talk, including some really important messages our students could learn from. Read them here.

As Graham says: "Developing resilience in young people is a key skill that we should all be promoting. Over the last 20 years, young people have become more protected and as a result many lack the skills to react when things don't go to plan – as they invariably do.

"Resilience is not the 'how to solve the problem', it's just having the belief that it can be solved and overcome. Hopefully during my talk, I was able to demonstrate some of the ways that I have overcome disappointment."


Our second speaker of the day was Emma Morris, Editor at ITV's Loose Women. Emma has graduated twice at Leeds Trinity, the first time was in 2004 in Psychology and Media and the second time was in 2009 from Bi-Media Journalism. Emma has had an incredible career, which includes working on the Jeremy Kyle Show, Daybreak and This Morning.

During her time at Leeds Trinity she took advantage of the amazing work experience opportunities available, including a stint at the BBC.

Emma spoke to the audience about needing resilience in an ever evolving and ruthless industry. She spoke about how relationships are so important and how things can change very quickly when suddenly you have a new boss. She stressed how her jobs have come from people she has made a good impression on. Part of being resilient is always having that Plan B in mind for whatever you do or might have to do in the future.

She has benefited from an amazing mentor, Eamonn Holmes. Some of the key skills she has learnt is being adaptable and confident and knowing right from wrong.

At the end of Emma's presentation some of the Loose Women hosts were sharing their top tips, and the ones I thought were the strongest pieces of advice for our students to leave the room with were always: to listen carefully and take on board what people are telling you; do your homework and have enough information; and most importantly, don't be the next anyone – be the first you.