Sue Smart (nee Meadows), graduated with an honours degree in French in 1976. Sue has undertaken a number of roles in her career and is currently a self-employed image consultant. Sue has recently delivered workshops for students at Swansea University on how to stand out from the crowd and ‘dress for success’.
Why did you decide to study at Swansea University?
Swansea University has a good reputation for languages: it was also close to home and of course, lovely location.
What did you enjoy most about your course at Swansea?
Learning new ideas, reading new materials, finding I could challenge existing ideas, discovering that I had opinions (and valid ones!), expanding my mind and generally gaining confidence in my ability to make a difference.
What are you doing now career-wise?
I am a self-employed Image Consultant (my company name is: Positively Smart), and I deliver workshops and 1:1 sessions on all aspects of personal image, confidence and self esteem issues to corporate clients and private individuals.
I am also employed part time as a Sales Negotiator for Payton Jewell Caines estate agency where my duties include the production of sales brochures, displays, dealing with public enquiries, and so on.
How has Swansea University and your course helped you with your chosen career path?
It is difficult to assess a direct application but studying at Swansea University certainly started me on the path of adaptability, coping with change, being independent and generally giving me the confidence to stand on my own two feet. The degree itself was the passport to a very varied career path. After graduating at Swansea, I undertook a Postgraduate bilingual secretarial course in Leeds after which I took up a employment at L’Oreal (from bilingual PA to Assistant Buyer). I have also been a lecturer in European Business Admin at Bristol Polytechnic and Client Services Manager at DBM Career Consultancy leading to my current position as Self-Employed Image Consultant. Each role has had a link to the previous position, so you never know where it will lead!
What are the most challenging parts of your job?
Being a one-man band – having to do all the marketing, finance, PR, delivery, preparation, IT, etc. – and it can be a lonely job until you start working with clients. Travelling and staying in hotels on my own can also be a challenge.
What are the most rewarding parts of your job?
Making a difference to a client’s life – when I see a client blossom, smile, get rid of negative body image and gain the confidence they thought they’d lost – there’s no feeling like it, and the reward is much more than monetary. Also, getting the praise for having been instrumental – it feeds the ego and nourishes the soul!
What was the best careers advice you were given?
If you are hesitating over a career decision tell yourself that it is better to have a life full of memories than a life full of dreams. Take the positives even from “poor” career moves, learn when to move on and don’t be afraid to do so. You only get one go at life – it is not a rehearsal.
What advice do you have for current students and new graduates?
All of the above. The degree is worth the hard work – don’t waste the time at University – read, learn, explore, enjoy and be kind to yourself.
What are your plans for the future?
To become famous for my image work; retire contented; keep chickens and grow fabulous vegetables and flowers (but not for many years yet!); write at least one book.
What have you done that you are most proud of?
I have received many unsolicited testimonials from women whose lives I’ve touched; hearing laughter and applause following some very challenging workshops.
What are your favourite memories of your university years at Swansea?
Singleton Park: sitting in the sun reading the poems of John Donne; debating with one of my lecturers and having him agree with me!; learning to play darts with a fabulously funny group of students; learning that I’d gained a 2:1 when I was expecting a 3rd – and the feeling when I told my parents; my final year staying with a family in Killay – I was their surrogate daughter for a year and received the best support during the hardest year.
And finally, describe yourself in 3 words…
Humorous, Loyal, Empathetic