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Where Are You Now?

Justine Gillespie

BA Business Studies 1992

Position and company: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at the University of Sunderland

Sunderland graduate Justine Gillespie has come in full circle as she now works at the University of Sunderland as the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Manager. She is proud of having set up the EDI function within the University in 2019.

Prior to that, Justine had a career in human resources that spanned 27 years.

Talking about her current role Justine said: “I am a specialist in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and am responsible for the function within the University, reporting directly into the Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

“The purpose of my current role is to develop and implement employee engagement interventions that specifically support the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) agenda and drive the achievement of the University’s Vision and Strategy and embed our value of Inclusion.”

Justine, originally from Sheffield, was attracted to the University of Sunderland as she wanted to work in HR and the University provided a sandwich course where she could spend a year in industry.

“This was the best course that allowed me to specialise in HR,” she added.

Justine's advice for recent graduates entering the job market is to try to join a company whose values match theirs so that they can be as authentic as possible.

On reflection, Justine says that she works best in any company where the values match her own, which is exactly what the University of Sunderland does. She said: “I also need fast pace and autonomy.”

Asked what she would have done differently if she knew what she knows now, Justine said: “I would probably take more risks. Being risk adverse meant I joined a company I didn’t like.”

Talking about her plans, Justine explained: “I want to continue working in this role and embed EDI into the University. I’m hoping to overcome the challenges of navigating the current culture wars in the context of inclusion. I also want to be remembered as someone who made a difference to people and how they feel at work.”

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