Big Interview

Victoria Rowland,

Early Careers Lead at Sage and Founder and Alumni of the Pride Network

This week, we’re catching up with Victoria Rowland, who serves as Early Careers Lead and Founder and Alumni of the Pride Network at Sage. With a passion for inclusion, Victoria has dedicated her career to creating safe and inclusive spaces for marginalised communities.

Interview by Kieran Howells

Current Early Careers Lead at Sage, formerly the UKI Pride Lead and now a voluntary Director for not-for-profit Trans in the City, Victoria uses her platform and influence to raise awareness about LGBTQ+ issues, educating others on the challenges faced by the community and advocating for their rights.

Victoria's dedication to fostering inclusivity has earned her recognition and accolades within the industry. Through her work, she continues to break down barriers and create opportunities for underrepresented individuals.

What gives you purpose in your career? Why do you do what you do?

The essence of my passion for what I do is rooted in non-linear careers. I'm particularly passionate about it, because that's exactly what I've embarked on. I actually found out that I was pregnant at university. So, I ended up doing everything in reverse. I had my daughter, and then I did my degree, and I think immediately I felt like I was on a bit of a back foot. I've always wanted a career in HR, but how could I do that with a niche degree with a very small child and a part time job?

I worked my way through the ranks and became an EA, and then I joined Sage six years ago, as EA to the president of business. And when he left, we established that I had a real passion for supporting people into roles, and particularly young people - those that might not have had a fair chance to first start in life.

Hence, I became an early careers talent acquisition partner nearly four years ago, and that role evolved, because people can see how passionate I am about it. And I became the early careers manager, and it's evolving again globally. Supporting all of the regions with hiring, development, and everything relating to apprenticeships and interns.

Job satisfaction comes in many different ways now, and that’s young people feeling that they belong a business because of the culture and also seeing themselves represented.

A lot of businesses don't seem to have a grasp on what attracting younger people into their workplaces really looks like. What do you think businesses aren't understanding in that process?

With Gen Z, salary is important; we’re in cost-of-living crisis, and we're aware that we need money to live. But actually, job satisfaction comes in many different ways now and that’s young people feeling that they belong a business because of the culture and also seeing themselves represented. So yes, wages remain important, but it goes far beyond that.

I guess the problem is that if you're not working on your diversity and inclusion strategies authentically, you're not going to have these people join because they won’t see themselves represented. I think that businesses that are really striving to recruit top talent in the early career space, need to look at their D&I strategies and they need to ensure that it's authentic.

Apprenticeships are being discussed a lot at the moment. Why do you think now is the time for organisations to invest in building apprenticeship schemes?

We have a lot of apprentices that started out four or five years ago, that are now already in managerial positions or working towards that goal. So immediately, if you're talking about managing skills gaps, these people are doing it naturally.

When we say apprenticeships, I think a lot of people still think stereotypically 16 to 24 years old. That is a complete myth. We've got one apprentice who's 57. And he came to us last year, and he said, I really want a career in tech. How can I do that? We told him about our apprenticeships, so he joined us and he's absolutely excelling.

I think the message is here is that businesses need to stop thinking about apprenticeships, as a way to get people to do laborious tasks that don't have any development. Apprentices should be a permanent colleague, who wants to develop through their four or five years into a substantive role and future leadership in my view.


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