Charlie Barton is supporting students with their enterprise and entrepreneurial development through advice and activities as a Specialist Practitioner for Student Enterprise. She is helping future business leaders and innovators take their first steps into the field through the University’s Careers and Employability Service, building on rewarding roles as a Work Experience Manager and Internship Coordinator at the institution.
Charlie was raised near Hereford and initially explored the option of becoming a vet as she progressed in a varied range of subjects. “I took the chance to do some work experience while I was still at school but fainted three times in two days and decided not pursue that career path,” she jokes. Instead, Charlie opted to study Psychology in higher education and travelled to the maritime city of Southampton where she profited from a positive student experience.
“Southampton was a great place to study – it offered so many opportunities,” she says. “It’s quite a vibrant city which was a real contrast from where I’d grown up. Academically, it was also fantastic for me. I was able to do my dissertation on what I really wanted to and structured my learning in the way that I wanted.”
On leaving university, Charlie moved to London and became a Business Development Executive in Life Sciences for Hanson Wade, an information services company bringing people together through business conferences. She then worked in corporate sales for the BMW group, growing the MINI brand among local businesses on the south coast.
Charlie returned to the University of Southampton in 2014, taking a post propelling students towards employment as the Excel Southampton Internship Coordinator. The role marketed Easter and summer internship opportunities to the 28,000 strong student body. Charlie next went on to oversee all of the University’s internship, volunteering and business innovation programmes as a Work Experience Manager before taking on her Specialist Practitioner role in July 2017.
“I’ve set myself a goal to make the words enterprise and entrepreneurship commonplace within the curriculum and the student culture,” she explains. “I’m in a unique and well-placed position as part of the Careers and Employability Service to focus on student enterprise, while also supporting the Social Impact Lab and Future Worlds.”
Charlie is offering one-to-one guidance, workshops and challenge-based education across the student calendar. “My role within Future Worlds is like a talent pipeline tool,” she adds. “I have a nurturing role at the early stage of student development which is working with those who want to develop their enterprise skillset. They will then hopefully be inspired to become founders of their own businesses in the future.”
Students that are interested in finding out more about entrepreneurship sessions, events and advice can reach Charlie using the contact form on this page. “If you want to develop skills within enterprise, whether that’s in resilience or leadership, or if you already have an idea that you want to bring to fruition, then please get in touch,” she says.
Charlie advises students to build their people skills during their time in Southampton and identify a career sector that genuinely interests them. “Make sure you do something you have a passion for,” she says. “If you’re in an industry that isn’t interesting to you then you’re not going to make the most of yourself.”
Charlie considers businesswoman Karren Brady to be a role model in her life. “She was the first female senior director of any football team in the UK and she really paved the way for strong women in business,” she explains. “I’ve worked in industries that are male-dominated and know how it can be quite hard sometimes, so she is a brilliant inspiration.”
“I’m motivated to be the best version of myself that I can be,” she adds. “I want to have that philosophy and instil it in students as well. Everyone has so much potential, we just need to build the confidence and skills to unlock it.”