UK: Claire Handby – Honorary Doctorate Blog

The topic of inclusive growth for all, particularly across STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects and related career paths continues to hit headlines in 2018, notably due to links with accelerating gender parity and addressing the pay gap.

The shortage of people, particularly females, inspired to choose STEM subjects for their academic qualifications, apprenticeship pathways and future career choices is an ongoing challenge.

It is a challenge, however, that has been met by one of our own team at Deloitte, within our Financial Advisory Real Estate team – Claire Handby – who we are proud to congratulate following her Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration award from the University of Salford.

A 'STEM' subject role model, Claire has paved an excellent and rewarding career since starting a two week work experience placement with a scaffolding company at 15 years old.

The experience inspired her to pursue a B-Tec Ordinary National Diploma (OND) in Construction at Stockport College and a Construction Management Degree in Newcastle Upon Tyne. Since graduating in 1998, Claire has worked for some of the top organisations within both the Construction Industry and the Global Corporate world of Big4 Consulting, to use her words:

"I have led a dynamic, stimulating, adventurous 20 year career within the Built Environment. I recognise that I have been given the right advice by trusted people, at the right time, embraced many opportunities to develop myself, alongside making a commitment to maintain life-long learning. As a result, I have continued to see my career twist and turn, where ultimately it has flourished right in front of my eyes, resulting in this latest award from the University of Salford, which I am so proud to accept."

As I pause and reflect on these achievements, I share three observations from my conversations with Claire which offer a greater understanding as of the progress she has made to date. These are influeces that link directly to the topic of STEM –

  • School skills assessment linked to careers - A skills assessment questionnaire completed in school allowed Claire to assess attributes and interests at an early age. This matched her to the traits of typical role profiles for a job after school, and ultimately sowed the seed of her future roles. Creating awareness of the options available for children, at an 'early teens' school age is therefore crucial.
  • School work experience - The completion of a work experience placement whilst in school, is key for the construction industry, it led Claire to complete a vocational qualification, similar to apprenticeships today. This work experience is so often the inspiration for young people to choose a career path. Apprenticeships must continue to gain momentum to ensure these STEM work experiences linked to gaining academic merit remain widely available to people.
  • 'I can and I will' mindset - Some young people are encouraged away from STEM subjects at home and by their peer group, however Claire is proof that encouraging strong values via a supportive family, friends and own personal will, drive and determination to succeed will allow young people to foster a belief that they can achieve anything they put their minds to.

Looking a little more at Claire's past, you can also see she has had many defining moments throughout her life to date which have influenced her, from the tragic loss of her four year old sister to meningitis when she was 15 years old, to deciding to move from the Construction industry and join the Corporate environment of Big4.

It's a path she continues to share to help others develop their own toolkits, in the hope that more people will also see the value of taking STEM subjects to secure and anchor their own futures.

Thankfully, there is still plenty more to come from Claire and the rest of our team at Deloitte and the wider Built Environment. To succeed, we must continue to role model to create more inclusive opportunities for all to excel, and promote STEM subjects as an ideal foundation of many careers.

The entire team at Deloitte is united in congratulating Claire on a fantastic achievement. We look forward to working together to continue to create a positive impact on society for many years ahead.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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