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Sue’s story

Current Role - Chief Executive at Working Options in Education

Joined Brightside - 2005

Years at Brightside - 13

I started out as a project co-ordinator in 2005 and was Deputy CEO by the time I left in 2018.

In 2005 there were three people in the team and we were all remote working. Brightside’s always been ahead of its time! It had a real start-up feel that it still had when I left thirteen years later.

Imperial College London and King’s College London were the first partners we worked with. We had a project called Bright Journals (the branding was garishly orange and red) and it showed a day in the life of medical students. Mentees could see what the students had written and ask questions. Our student mentors were so impressive juggling their intensive medical degrees with volunteering to mentor our young people. The passion of our volunteers was strong, right from Brightside’s launch.

Back then we worked with 200 young people. We had ten major partners, and it was my task to bring that number up to 40. It was actually pretty straightforward because online mentoring was so innovative back then that people were keen to give it a try.

In 2007, we moved on to interactive activities on the website and were given a grant from the Higher Education Funding Council to develop interactive worksheets around access to university and became more well known in the sector. We also opened the platform up to other subject areas so we could work with the other 200+ universities across the UK.

The team grew alongside all the new partners. Some of our key partners included the Social Mobility Foundation, The Sutton Trust, The Royal Society of Chemistry, The Royal Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Physics.

The rest is history! Brightside is now working with almost 12,000 mentees per year and continues to add new partners and projects every year. I stayed for thirteen years because I loved it so much, because of the brilliant people I worked with, and the organisation’s unrelenting drive to have the best possible impact on young people.

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