Holly Hetherington, UK Management Undergraduate of the Year and winner of esteemed program “CEOx1Day”, wants to confirm that she is not special. In fact, she claims, “I’m just normal and I’m no different to anyone else, but I just apply [to things] as the worst that’s going to happen is they say no.” This mentality has seen her become one of UK’s top students for leadership and is being sought out for everything from judging recruitment awards to advising start-ups.
The third-year management student from Peterborough took time out of her (very busy) schedule to speak to The Saint about how she made it to this point.
Ms Hetherington was happy to discuss the process of applying to both of these awards, describing how she originally applied to the management undergraduate of the year award as “it’s all based around leadership.” Run by Target Jobs, this award is one of many subject awards that can be applied to and, if you are like Ms Hetherington and make it to the final, dinner at Canary Wharf and an 11-week internship are waiting for you.
While working with Enterprise Rent-A-Car in both their European and International offices in the government and public affairs branches, Ms Hetherington got a glimpse into a life liaising with the Houses of Parliament and mingling at government fundraisers in the USA.
She credits this success to her constant pace: “I do a lot — I’m renowned for being really busy.” As well as her degree, Ms Hetherington played first team hockey and served as AU Communications Officer, coached for the hockey club, and was social media representative for PlayerLayer. She claims that the “job with the AU gave me tons of transferable skills and stuff to talk about.”
Coming off her success at Undergraduate of the Year, Ms Hetherington set her sights on a program run by recruitment firm Odgers Berndtson titled “CEOx1Day” which “looks for people to be CEO one day” and matches them with prominent CEOs in the business world. She describes a similar application process, with the exception of a closer focus on personality. Ms Hetherington applied to “just get experience in these environments” and she is certainly set for that.
Her success in this competition sees her matched with a FTSE100 CEO, Chris Hill of Hargreaves Lansdown. She thinks the key to making the most of her one day of shadowing is “asking a ton of questions” and “not being afraid to say I don’t know something.” Ms Hetherington wants to show her enthusiasm for the area. Although her future focus lies with marketing, she points out that, while “I’m quite interested in marketing, obviously finances are so central to businesses, [and] I wanted to broaden my knowledge in that area.”
Such a busy schedule requires real motivation, something Ms Hetherington credits not only to her love of a full day but also to her parents: “[I’m] very close to my parents — I want to do well for them.” However, she is careful to emphasise how all of her achievements come from her desire to apply, rather than pressure from her family. Animated and excited when discussing all of the opportunities in her life, it was easy to believe her when she said, “I love everything I am doing.”
The University of St Andrews in particular is helpful in interview situations due to “such a diverse environment. It teaches you to be able to work with anyone, get on with anyone” Ms Hetherington said. She explains how “being able to debate Brexit and understand other people’s opinions are things that do come up here and do help in interviews,” and wonders if that is what gave her such a strong position in these competitions.
She also highlights how “the management program [at St Andrews] is really good. The skills you learn here are very transferable.”
In the face of failure, Ms Hetherington points out that all of these situations are “just an opportunity to learn; even if they say no I’ll have learnt something from it.”
Planning for the future sees Ms Hetherington choosing opportunities such as CEOx1Day and networking events over her love of hockey, as her “priorities had to change. I love hockey, but this is my future.” In a similar vein, she is now on the events team at the AU and travels to London almost every weekend for events such as judging the Target Jobs recruitment awards. This suits her well: “I love being busy; if I sit for one day I would lose my mind.”
I asked Ms Hetherington what advice she would give to people wishing to follow the path she is on, and it is surprisingly straightforward: “just do it.” She explains that she thinks so many people do not believe they could win such competitions and so do not even apply. She wants people to “just apply and try, give it everything” and see what happens. It certainly worked for her.