Sarah Rogers is helping students discover opportunities to develop themselves personally and professionally during their higher education journey at the University of Southampton. She coordinates innovative enterprise-related learning and development activity as Head of the Student Enterprise team within the Careers and Employability Service. Sarah has benefited from over a decade’s work placed in varied teams, departments and faculties at the institution since a promising start to her career in publishing and management.
Sarah was raised in the Norfolk Broads and developed a love for writing and art in her youth which she has nurtured through to the present day. She studied History of Art at the University of East Anglia and was pointed towards magazine publishing and a fulfilling work placement through a first-hand example of positive student experience management. After supplementing her degree with a postgraduate certificate in publishing in London, she spent a year working in the capital for a gardening magazine.
Her next opportunity presented itself back in Norfolk in a post with Saab vehicles’ customer magazine, where she developed her skills beyond the editorial department and into account management.
“It was a really pivotal role in terms of my own development as it opened my eyes to the global aspects of running a business,” Sarah says. “I got to see how everything worked and really manage the whole process; from the beginnings when documents were coming into my inbox, right through the file being sent to the printers in 21 different language editions. It was a fantastic office with a brilliant team and I enjoyed it throughout.”
A successful two-and-a-half years with Saab was completed with the publishing team having expanded to encompass an additional magazine.
Sarah moved to Southampton in 2003 to fill a project management role at the University’s Winchester School of Art, and helped advance the structure and education profile of the organisation during a transitional year for the school. Having established a positive presence at the University, she then implemented a new strategy as a Learning and Teaching Coordinator in the Faculty of Law, Arts and Social Sciences and spent two years working as a Recruitment and Admissions Project Manager for the whole institution.
Between 2006 and 2009, Sarah served as an Employability Coordinator for the then Faculty of Engineering, Science and Mathematics which included helping the set up of the South East Physics Network (SEPnet) and securing £1.9 million from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) for an Employer Engagement Initiative with colleague Pat Maier.
Focusing on students’ experiences of integrating into higher education, Sarah spent her next two years developing initiatives such as student buddying schemes as the University’s Transition to Living and Learning Project Manager. “I’m really glad that I’ve had the experience of starting in an academic unit, focusing on a particular faculty and then going on to university-wide projects with a greater overview,” she says. “I’ve been able to develop an enormous amount of knowledge and experience as well as a great network that I can bring together for a truly holistic view of the student experience.”
More recently Sarah has been Project Manager of Southampton Opportunity, where she helped profile hundreds of opportunities for students through the opus.soton.ac.uk website. During this time she was successful in being awarded £24,000 from the UK Government’s Intellectual Property Office Studentship Enterprise Awards to fund the development of Student Enterprise Champions in 2015.
In December 2016 she took on her current role as Head of Student Enterprise. Since then she has received awards from Enactus UK for her work as University Advisor to the Enactus Southampton team, and an award for ‘most inspiring individual’ at the University Employability Excellence Awards.
“Southampton has an awful lot to offer students around supporting enterprise and entrepreneurship development,” she says. “We have fantastic student societies, the SEED Startup Fund, the Social Impact Lab offering social entrepreneurship opportunities, a strong Careers Service offering advice, guidance and work experience to students and – of course – Future Worlds, which is now offering engagement opportunities and advice in a very innovative way.”
“The wide range of support is suitable for those first exploring enterprise right through to students who want to start up their own business ideas,” Sarah explains. “The Student Enterprise team can help you navigate that journey and find out what’s right for you. Please take a look at our website where we have a comprehensive overview of what’s available.”
In her spare time, Sarah continues to invest time in hobbies that she started by seizing her own opportunities in her student days. Her evergreen passion for art is channelled through regular watercolour paintings and some of her work is even on display in a gallery in Norfolk. Her sketches of the Norfolk Broads can also be seen as a series of illustrations in a murder mystery series written by her step-dad.
“My main motivation is to see that we make the student experience as fulfilling and rewarding as possible,” Sarah adds. “Within this entrepreneurial and enterprise ecosystem there is so much we are already doing that’s really exciting and there’s so much more we can do still. We want students to have every opportunity to succeed both now and in the future.”