Careers and Employability Service
Services for current students

Authenticity at work



Being your authentic self at work is important to feel comfortable and enhance your individual well-being, maximise your impact in your work and help others feel comfortable being their authentic selves.

This year, we're excited to introduce our equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) focused 'Get Connected' offer, designed to provide you with a platform to engage with professionals across various sectors.

Our aim is to address important topics such as coming out at work, navigating microaggressions, allyship, and promoting inclusive practices by engaging with professionals with experiences in these areas.

To participate, simply explore our speaker bios below, submit your questions via the form, and receive a copy of the interview afterward.

Your next steps

If you need support regarding any of the topics discussed on this page, please visit the university support page

Submit your question for our panel



Read our speaker bios and ask them a question

Ask me about: being a parent in the workplace

Natalie Haydon-Yeung, Senior Associate at Geldards


My journey into law started quite a few years ago when I was a participant on a Sutton Trust Summer School at the University of Nottingham. 

I went on to study law at the university for three years and completed my Legal Practice Course the year following. 

I secured a two-year training contract with a regional firm who are best known for their commercial and corporate practices. In my role as a trainee solicitor, I gained experience in departments such as Real Estate, Clinical Negligence, Commercial Litigation and Family. 

I then joined the Family Team at Geldards. I am now a Partner in the Team and I specialise in complex financial remedy cases often involving property portfolios, multiples business assets and pensions. I also have significant experience in respect of children cases often involving substance abuse, domestic violence and parental alienation.

Areas of interest:

I am particularly passionate about ensuring there is diversity amongst the legal profession both in terms of gender and background.

Ask me about:

  • Feeling able to be your authentic self at work
  • Being a parent in the workplace

Submit your questions for Natalie


Ask me about: being trans in the workplace

Ashley Storer-Smith, Student Voice Manager at University of Nottingham


I started within students' unions when I was elected as Vice President Activities and Employability at London South Bank SU after I graduated.

I have been fortunate to work at a range of students' unions including Brighton, Warwick and Newman. I am currently the Student Voice Manager at UoNSU.

I also run a monthly webinar series with Unitu around student voice and student engagement. I have recently completed my MA in Student Engagement in Higher Education and published articles for Wonkhe around student engagement.

Areas of interest:

  • Trans and non-binary
  • Neurodivergency
  • Disability (generally)

Ask me about:

  • Experiences as transgender and non-binary
  • Coming out in the workplace
  • Being your authentic self

Submit your questions for Ashley


Sarissa Guo, Residential Experience Officer at University of Nottingham


With a commitment towards fostering meaningful equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace, I have had the fortune to work in a number of impactful roles.

After graduating with an International Relations BA from the University of Nottingham Malaysia, I began as a Protection Assistant with the UNHCR in Malaysia, where I provided support and counselling to asylum-seekers and refugees, in addition to fostering inclusivity as a member of the Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Working Group.

Moving to the UK, I joined the University of Nottingham as a senior administrator in the Assessments Team, while helping to promote EDI efforts within the RAA Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Working Group.

Currently, as a residential experience officer, I co-ordinate events, offer pastoral care, and help amplify LGBTQIA+ voices as one of the Co-Chairs of the University's LGBTQIA+ Staff Network. By working in tandem with the community, as well as applying my lived experiences as a trans woman from Southeast Asia, I aim to create a university where our LGBTQIA+ community can thrive.

Areas of interest:

  • Transgender inclusion in the workplace
  • Immigrant, refugee and asylum seeker-specific needs and support
  • Embedding care and wellbeing into the workplace
  • Building and preserving an inclusive culture at work

Ask me about:

  • Experience of being trans in the workplace
  • Coming out during the recruitment process/workplace
  • Examples of positive inclusion practices in the workplace
  • Navigating the workplace as a trans, migrant employee

Submit your questions for Sarissa


Ask me about: LGBT+, women and neurodiversity

Emma Maraio, Global Performance Consultant at Cap Gemini


I am a business psychologist that currently works as a global performance consultant within the tech industry.

I have worked in different businesses, but my roles have always been focused around how we can use psychology to get the most from and for our people. From construction to casinos, people are what make a business what it is.

Areas of interest:

  • LGBT+
  • Women
  • Neurodiversity at work

Ask me about:

  • Coming out in workplace
  • Feeling able to be your authentic self at work
  • Neurodiversity in the work place

Submit your questions for Emma


Meredith Coney, Faculty Head of Education and Student Experience at University of Nottingham


I am Meredith Coney, Head of Education and Student Experience in the Faculty of Engineering, leading a team that supports the student journey from admissions to graduate employment. I joined the University of Nottingham in December 2023 after 17 years at Loughborough University.

I studied a BA and MSc in Archaeology at the University of Leicester, while studying I had a part-time job in the Distance Learning unit of my department and enjoyed supporting people from all over the world to undertake their studies.

When I graduated, I didn't have a clear plan on what I wanted to do, but loved working at the University and applied for a temporary role at Loughborough University while  I worked out what I wanted to do. A temporary role quickly became the start of a career in higher education management, not a field I had ever considered before but which I love!

Areas of interest:

I am passionate about equity, diversity and inclusion, in making our university accessible to all, to ensure that our students all feel like they can make the most of their university time and go on to a successful career they are passionate about.

Ask me about:

I am dyslexic and non-binary, for me being able to be my authentic self is very important, you can ask me anything about my experiences of bringing my whole self to work as a disabled and trans staff member.

Submit your questions for Meredith


Ask me about: authenticity at work, race and sexuality in the workplace

Darryl Giffts-Walker, Environmental Compliance Advisor at Valpak Limited Associate 


I've worked a variety of jobs, from a five-star golf course waiting tables for celebrities like Chris Hemsworth and Len Goodman, to switchboard work for Audi and Health and Safety in Automotive Engineering. 

My role at Valpak means I interact with all members of a business all the way up to the directors. I work with businesses to ensure they›re compliant with UK Environmental Regulations and suggest other services that can keep their business compliant. Valpak is the UK's largest compliance scheme, working with over 4000 businesses since 1997 including household names such as Coca-Cola and Tesco.

I want to see more Black talent in leadership positions and further education.

You've done the hard work, got into a top university, but when you graduate you find it more and more frustrating to find a job. The Careers team at Nottingham are great at preparing you for interviews and applications, but I believe we can take it one step further.

Areas of interest:

I'm passionate about many areas of EDI, from race and religion to disability and sexual orientation. 

Ask me about:

Challenging behaviours in the workplace. Often, people aren't aware their actions are offensive but other times they're fully aware. Both situations require tact and resolve to settle effectively.

Submit your questions for Darryl


Ask me about: equality, diversity, inclusion and wellbeing in the workplace

James Jackson, Director of NXTGEN Learning LTD and Co-founder of #spacetotalk

Headshot of James Jackson

Award winning and multi-award nominee within Equality, Diversity, Inclusion (EDI) and Wellbeing. James is a Director of NXTGEN Learning LTD, Co-founder of #spacetotalk and an EDI Committee member for Nottingham Forest football club community trust.

James is the visionary behind “EPIC” (Ethnic Populations, Intersectionality and Cultures) and holds a senior leadership People and Wellbeing role within the NHS. James is committed to creating inclusive safe spaces, the evolution of EDI and diverse organisational culture. James also works within early education towards embedding EDI and has lectured at St Marys University. James is the Former BAME Employee Network lead, committee member of Inclusive Companies D and I Leaders consortium and Women in Nuclear (WIN).

Areas of interest:

I am passionate about the equitable balance and commitment to inclusion in every aspect of EDI. I am passionate about raising the bar of ambition to become more inclusive and collaborate across EDI thus avoiding hyper polarisation between groups, people and populations. Focus on tangible progress and establish the building blocks for sustainable change.

Intersectionality and the role this plays over the historic homogeneous view of any one group or characteristic. Early education and dismantling of societal stereotypes. Understanding the challenges faced by socioeconomically deprived populations of people. Doing away with labels and recognising all are EPIC (Ethnic Populations, Intersectionality and Cultures).

Ask me about:

  • Personal Lived experience
  • Why EPIC
  • The role allyship has to play
  • What do I feel are the biggest challenges facing EDI

Submit your questions for James


Careers and Employability Service

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