My Career My Way Conference 2023

Watch the highlights of our conference, which brought together 200 women across the HE sector


Here's what we covered this year

This year's conference was delivered in person at London Metropolitan University

Conference opening

10.00 - 10.15

Founder and CEO of WHEN, Alice Chilver will introduce WHEN, set the scene for the conference, welcome participants and explain how the day will unfold. 

Keynote speech

10.15 - 11.05

Nazir Afzal OBE, our keynote speaker will explore 'Women in higher education: what we know now', to raise awareness about the status of gender inequity followed by Q&A. 

Panel discussion

11.35 - 12.25

Our panel members will discuss 'Career trajectories unpacked, redefining the possible' and explore possibilities of a new reality, followed by Q&A. 

Panel Members: Prof. Heidi Safia Mirza, Prof. Donna Whitehead, Dr. Kendi Guantai, Alex Vincent and Judy Chandler. 

Meet the head-hunters

12.25 - 13.25

You will be able to book a one-to-one drop in session at lunchtime with executive search firm Perrett Laver for CV surgeries and tailored career advice. 

Pecha Kucha

13.25 - 14.10

In the fast paced format of our pecha kucha 'Breaking free: my career, my way', be inspired by many stories of phenomenal women in quick succession.

Speakers: Ayisha Singadia, Prof. Jackie Carter, Vikki Goddard, Dr Ana DeSousa e Faro, Ella Deadman


14.10 - 15.20

You'll choose one of five workshops to participate in, which will best enable you to refocus and take practical steps forward.  

Strength in Community

15.20 - 16.10

You'll make new connections in this interactive session, led by executive search firm Alumni Global, where we make networking in person fun. 

Conference closing

16.10 - 16.30

Deputy CEO of WHEN, Adele MacKinlay and COO, Cianne Jones will close the conference, capturing the main themes of the day. 


Meet our incredible line up of speakers

Prof. Heidi Safia Mirza

Emeritus Professor of Equality Studies in Education, UCL, IOE and Visiting Professor of Race, Faith and Culture, Goldsmith’s College, and Race Policy, LSE

Prof. Donna Whitehead

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of South Wales

Nazir Afzal OBE

Chancellor, Manchester University and International Adviser on Rule of Law 

Alice Chilver

Founder and CEO, WHEN and Head of People and Organisational Development, Oxford University

Cianne Jones

Chief Operating Officer, WHEN

Owen Francis

Director, Higher Education and Group Inclusion Lead, Alumni Global 

Adele MacKinlay

Director of People and Organisational Development, Manchester University and Deputy CEO, WHEN

Ellie Rich-Poole

Career Development and Recruitment Coach

Sarah Higgins

Leadership Coach and Author of 'Power of Love Leadership'

Marshah Dixon-Terry

Executive Career and Leadership Coach 

Charlotte Axon

Lead People Scientist, Tailored Thinking

Sarah John

Managing Partner, Perrett Laver

Adwoa Darko

Inclusive Communities Manager, Centre for Equity and Inclusion, London Metropolitan University

Alex Vincent

Registrar and Chief Operating Officer, Humanities Division, Oxford University

Dr. Kendi Guantai

Associate Professor and Dean for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Leeds University 

Ayisha Singadia

Governance Services Officer, Office of the Vice-Chancellor, Legal, Governance and Assurance Services, Derby University 

Prof. Jackie Carter

  Professor of Statistical Literacy and Academic Lead for EDI Disability, Manchester University 

Thalia Anagnostopoulou

Leadership and Coaching Manager, Programme Director of Women in Leadership, University College London 

Vikki Goddard

Leadership and Management Consultant 

Judy Chandler

Programme Lead, MA in Education and MA in Childhood and Youth, Open University

Dr Ana DeSousa e Faro

Head of EDI, Royal Veterinary College and Head of EDI Impact, WHEN

Ella Deadman

HBCU Partnership Project Manager, London Metropolitan University 

Conference Workshops

Here's what took place:

This workshop will help you understand the importance of leaning into experiential learning. Leave equipped with the courage to approach potential mentors. 

  • Understand the difference between "buddies", "mentors", "sponsors", “champions” and "coaches" 
  • Learn how to identify what is appropriate at what point in your life - career evolution, leadership vision, life goals. 
  • Learn how to identify people who can support your ambitions. 
  • Build your own suite of fantasy mentors
  • Practice the best ways of approaching your ideal mentors to increase your chances of securing their support. 

Workshop Facilitators: Adwoa Darko and Thalia Anagnostopoulou

Adwoa is an Inclusive Communities Manager within the Centre for Equity and Inclusion at London Metropolitan University. Adwoa's work focuses on fostering an inclusive environment across the institution that is welcoming and celebrates the cultural diversity of our students, staff and local communities. Working closely with key staff, students across the University, she strives to ensure there is a clear focus on improving and promoting inclusion practice, provision, organisational culture and equitable representation. 

Alongside her work in education, she is a freelance writer and host, with bylines in Glamour, Metro, The Independent and gal-dem. Her writing focuses on Black women’s issues, the politics of beauty and desirability, and the intersection of race, gender and fatphobia. She is currently studying for a master's in International Higher Education Management at the University of Bath.

Thalia is an award winning mentoring practitioner turned Leadership development professional and coach. Thalia is a big advocate of equality, diversity and inclusion in the context of supporting the right people to excel in the careers that they want and deserve- in spite of systemic barriers. With 17 years of HE experience with a focus on personal and professional development for those from underrepresented backgrounds, Thalia is very keen on transformational training, thinking outside of the box and most of all the power of human connections.

This workshop will offer a reflective opportunity to those in leadership positions and/or interested in leadership positions. In order to stimulate thinking, attendees are invited to read a short blog by Donna Whitehead in advance of the workshop and come willing to share personal reflections on what authentic leadership means to them.

What attendees can expect from the workshop:

  • An opportunity to consider and reflect upon what authentic leadership is and whether we feel that we are authentic leaders
  • An opportunity to consider whether our authenticity is what makes us successful (or not)
  • An opportunity to reflect on what aspects of ourselves we hide away and why

You may wish to read her blog on authentic leadership ahead of the workshop. 

Workshop Facilitator: Prof. Donna Whitehead

Donna is Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of South Wales. She has previously held roles as Deputy Vice-Chancellor at London Metropolitan University; Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean at UWE, Bristol; Deputy Dean at the University of South Wales; and a range of other senior leadership positions. She has also operated as a non-exec director in a variety of organisations.

In her role as Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Donna leads the faculties, the university’s Centre for the enhancement of learning and teaching, the future students directorate (responsible for recruitment of all students and internationalisation activity) and learning services. A key focus of Donna’s work and career to date is on equity and inclusion.

Donna is passionate about supporting others to develop; she invests significant time into mentoring others, including senior leaders across the sector.

In her personal life, Donna is married with two children. She enjoys weightlifting, jigsaw puzzles and caravanning!

This workshop will be an interactive and high energy workshop helping you to think differently about your career. Without revealing the three secrets, we can share that this session will include three of their favourite elements from the Career Accelerator programme and will get you thinking about how you talk about what you do and who to. It will be fast paced and content rich!

Workshop Facilitators: Marshah Dixon-Terry and Ellie Rich-Poole

Marshah and Ellie have been working together since 2022 when they co-designed the Career Accelerator Programme for WHEN and have been travelling the country together delivering the programme enabling women in Higher Education to harness their power to get the career they want.


In a constantly evolving, uncertain, hybrid working, distanced, pressured environment - how can we maintain our focus on our career goals? How can we lead ourselves and others in the best possible way whilst also navigating personal, work, team and career challenges?

In this workshop, you will be using 'My Individual Fear indicator', to understand what's getting in the way of leading yourself more effectively and in addition, you will get to consider, what 'love' has got to do with it!

In this practical session, join Sarah Higgins - Leadership Coach and Author of the Business Book Awards 2021 Finalist - 'Power of Love Leadership®' to discover the answers to these questions and take away practical tips that you can apply straight away in your personal lives, work and career journey.

Workshop Facilitator: Sarah Higgins

Sarah Higgins is passionate about taking the latest research and data from neuroscience and combining this with over 27 years of working with leaders to bring you practical and applicable ways of being at your best at work. She combines the commercial imperative that organisations need, with a purposeful and meaningful way of results focused compassion, humility and gratitude in the workplace and leadership.

Sarah works with leaders and leadership teams to maximise their effectiveness through 1-1 executive coaching and leadership team workshop facilitation and leadership effectiveness training. A Fellow of the CIPD and ex HR Director, Sarah brings practical expertise in how to apply Emotional Intelligence, how to understand what gets in the way and how to be Resilient and Confident no matter what comes your way. Sarah has a wealth of knowledge and practical tools, e.g., she is a qualified practitioner of The 6 Types of Working Genius, as well as over 10 years' experience of using the world class psychometric assessments Hogan, for self-insight and impactful change to all her clients. Sarah is a volunteer co-founder and Chair for the Lamp Business Club (Leicestershire Action for Mental Health Project) bringing businesses together to improve mental health at work and a Black Belt in Karate. Sarah is the author of the Business Book Awards 2021 Finalist 'Power of Love Leadership®’, available on Amazon, which enables leaders to improve resilience, confidence, productivity, morale and creativity by using seven successfully proven powerful strategies. 

This practical and interactive workshop will explore how to bring a strengths-based approach to our work to increase overall engagement, career satisfaction and wellbeing. We will explore our personal strengths, why strengths matter at work, and practical tips for developing and applying our strengths within our work and careers. We will also explore how to use a strengths-based approach to give positive feedback to others.

Attendees will leave the workshop having:

  • Understood the importance of strengths at work, and what it means to adopt a strengths-based approach
  • Explored their own personal strengths and how to find a balance between under- and over-playing strengths at work
  • Explored practical tips and examples for making the most of strengths at work
  • Explored practical tips and examples for spotting & developing strengths in others

Workshop Facilitator: Charlotte Axon

Charlotte has worked in a variety of HR, inclusion and organisation development roles across the Higher Education sector, having led and supported projects relating to culture, change, inclusion and recruitment.
She has a specialist interest in inclusion and belonging, which she has applied in University contexts, both internally and as an external consultant. Charlotte is passionate about making work better for everyone, in particular, through finding opportunities for personalisation of the employee experience.

Charlotte has partnered with multiple universities during her time as a consultant lead people scientist, drawing on her experience of people analytics and how to practically use and apply these insights to drive and sustain positive change.


Conference Venue

London Metropolitan University
The Great Hall
Tower Building (Yellow Zone)
166-220 Holloway Road
N7 8DB


Questions and answers

Do I have to be a WHEN member to attend? 

No, the conference is open to any woman who works in higher education. 

Do I have to be a woman to attend? 

All women including trans women and non-binary people who are comfortable in a female centred community are welcome to attend. This conference is not aimed at men. 

What does my ticket cover?

All tickets include access to the keynotes, panel session, pecha kucha, workshops and the community event. Light refreshments and lunch will also be provided. 

I am trying to purchase a ticket, how do I do this?

Please note that we have now sold out and closed registration for tickets. 

Where is the conference taking place?

The London Metropolitan university will be hosting us in The Great Hall, Tower Building (Yellow Zone), 166-220 Holloway Road, London, N7 8DB. 

I am travelling to London to stay overnight, can you recommend nearby hotels?

Please see a list of recommended nearby hotels. 

Where are the nearest train stations?

Drayton Park Railway Station is a 8 minute walk to the venue and Holloway Road Tube station is a 5 minute walk. 

Can I park at the venue?

Unfortunately, the venue does not have its own dedicated parking, however there is limited street parking available. 

Does the venue have a visitor access guide?

Please review the access guide for the venue. 

How many workshops can I attend?

You will have the option to attend one workshop as they will be running simultaneously. Some workshops will have limited capacity and attendance will be granted on a first come first serve basis at registration on the day. 

More questions or if you need support in the lead up to the conference 

Please contact [email protected]  

Join professionals from across the higher education sector keeping up to date with WHEN's latest news and events.

Help to speed up equality.


Access conference recordings 

We are recording the entire conference. So if you weren't able to join us for the live event, you can still access all of the content. Shall we let you know when it's ready?