International Women’s Day 2021

For International Women’s Day 2021 the theme is #ChoosetoChallenge. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world. For this International Women’s Day we interviewed Robyn Kohler, CEO of Aspire Sussex to celebrate her lifetime of achievements.

“I have been asked to write something today about International Women’s Day, and to embrace the #choosetochallenge.

I am in fact quite proud and privileged to be asked to do something like this, as for all of my working life, success has always taken me by surprise. I put success down to doing what I believe in, really believing in what I’m doing, and having the courage of my convictions to carry something through.

The other essential ingredient is ensuring that I have a good team around me who respect and value each other’s similarities and differences, and take the opportunity to promote each other’s success as much as their own.

I’m fortunate to have attended an international girl’s school- in a school of 300 we had 200 different nationalities, and our ages ranged from 4 to 21. Difference has been celebrated throughout my life and I am lucky that this has been my norm. It therefore sits with everyone to ensure that we are working towards it being a norm for us all.

At my first job interview after university I was turned down- I was told I was too nice to do the job….

It brings out a level of determination in you, that’s for sure! I have always been determined that it is possible to succeed without losing integrity, and operating with kindness.

I went for another identical job-I was appointed – and by the time I left work to have my daughters I was 150% of my target…Apparently being nice is not a bad attribute to have and should never hold us back. I guess the trick is to take up the challenge, speak up when things don’t look right, and embrace change.

Now, some 35 years later, I am lucky to be working in an organisation where I can give something back to communities, and in a way, to colleagues too. We include this way of working in our behaviours and values.

In the week of International Women’s’ Day, take risks, believe in yourself and take the opportunity to celebrate your own and others’ success.

And remember, however quiet and unassuming you may be, you have every right to have an opinion.”

Looking to develop your skills for a new role like Sarah?

Sarah has taken two distance learning courses with Aspire Sussex since the start of the pandemic, helping prepare her for a new career path after being furloughed and then made redundant.

“I was furloughed by my employer at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and saw it as an opportunity to make time to develop my skills and learn something new. As a mother of two primary school age children, I have experienced first-hand the impact the pandemic has had on the mental health of my children and their peers. When I saw an advert for a distance learning course in Understanding Children and Young People’s Mental Health with Aspire Sussex, it seemed the perfect opportunity to increase my awareness and understanding and put myself in a better position to support them.

I hadn’t formally studied in over 15 years, so the thought of ‘going back to school’ was initially quite a daunting prospect. However, I need not have worried. The induction meeting with my assessor was very reassuring and I quickly established a routine to complete the coursework around my other commitments at home. My assessor has guided and supported me through every step of the course; giving regular constructive feedback, encouraging me and helping me to improve and refine the content of my coursework. The whole experience has been enlightening and a huge boost to my confidence.

When I was made redundant eight months into being furloughed from my job, I used it as an opportunity to consider the future of my career and decided to embark on a second distance learning course with Aspire Sussex on Safeguarding and Prevent. I have since secured a new job at one of the leading sixth form colleges in the county, where the knowledge I have gained from both of my courses with Aspire Sussex will be invaluable.

I am so glad that I decided to study with Aspire Sussex as it has given me insight into a new profession and helped to guide me on a new career path. I would heartily recommend Aspire Sussex to anyone considering adult education as an ideal route to achieving your personal aspirations.”

Find out more and enrol on our FREE Level 2 Distance Learning courses today, with nine new courses now available, on our Distance Learning page.