Kristina Hurst (1992-1999)
What do you do now?
Im based in Putney, London and working for The Walt Disney Company EMEA as a Sales Planning and Retail Analytics Manager.
How did you get into this line of work?
Since graduating in 2004 my career has been in Human Resource Management. Ive worked in a variety of roles covering Recruitment, Compensation & Benefits, HR Systems and Workforce Planning. Just recently Ive been given the opportunity to transition the systems and analytical skills I have developed in HR into a more commercial and business focussed capacity by moving into Disneys Retail Business.
Have you ever encountered prejudice or unfairness because of your sex?
Despite the fact that in 2009/10 57% of 1st degree graduates from higher education institutions were women, inequality still exists in the workplace (Institute of Leadership & Management). Its not so much the proportion of men and women overall but the fact that fewer women reach managerial and leadership positions than men. I grew up with three brothers and always wanted to do everything they did. I remember they travelled Australia after leaving school and although my family were sceptical about me following in their footsteps due to being a girl, I went and did it anyway! Ive never let the statistics stop me and the fortunate thing now is that companies are actively addressing inequality and diversity in the workplace.
What does it take to be successful?
Being successful is quite difficult to define and depends on each individuals interpretation of what that means to them. I dont think its necessarily about getting to the top of the tree. For me, being successful is achieving to the best of my ability. Its recognising that Ive been given some great opportunities in life and making the most of them. Its having the determination to try new things, set goals and conquer set-backs and fear along the way. If I can be happy and proud of myself, I feel successful. Just recently I ran the London Marathon in aid of Diabetes UK which is definitely my best example of all of the above. It takes hard work, dedication and perseverance to go from being a regular 3 mile runner to running 26.2 miles and you face many hurdles along the way. I can assure you though that the rewards of achieving a personal goal, whatever it may be, are second to none!
Any advice for Westholme girls today?
Being educated at Westholme is one of the best foundations you can be given. I so frequently think about how lucky I was to go to a school which provided so many opportunities and excelled in so many areas, whether it be academic results, sport, the Arts or all the other things that Westholme do so well. Referring back to the earlier question of the challenges in a traditionally mans world, research suggests that whats holding women back is lack of confidence, ambition and expectations. I know for a fact that I did not leave Westholme feeling that way and neither did the close friends Im still in touch with from school so youre most likely already a step ahead. My advice is to never let anything stand in your way of achieving what you want to. Believe in yourself and irrespective of everyone else, just be the best that you can be, for you.