After completing a World Challenge in 2002, Sangeetha finished her A-levels and then embarked on a degree in Psychology and subsequently a Masters in Occupational Psychology.
She was then recruited onto a competitive NHS graduate leadership scheme and gained an MA in HR, which was the springboard into exciting HR and Occupational Psychology roles.
Currently she works as an Organisational Design Specialist for the BBC, designing a strategy around what a new function of the BBC should look like and how it should operate. We met with Sangeetha to find out more about her experience.
When did you complete a Challenge, and where did you go?
I completed a World Challenge expedition in 2002 to Morocco, with my school Aylesbury High School.
What were the highlights of your expedition?
One of our main tasks that we spent time building up to was to climb Mount Toubkal, which is the highest mountain in North Africa at 13,600ft. It was difficult and physically challenging, and really required a lot of physical and mental toughness, so completing the climb was a great personal achievement for me.
We also all took it in turns to lead our group, and I really enjoyed this part of the expedition. It was when I first realised that I enjoyed leading, and positive feedback only served to energise me further. The experience helped me to discover my leadership style, which is consultative. I lead people best by asking them what they think, and working collaboratively with them. Leading the group reinforced my love of working with people and in teams, which has ultimately led me to the industry I work in now, HR.
What is your current role, and are the skills you learnt during your Challenge relevant to it?
I’m an Organisational Design Specialist for the BBC. It’s a high-level, strategic role, so project management and the ability to work effectively with lots of stakeholder groups is crucial. I learned these skills for the first time on my expedition, as we had to work in a diverse team and divide roles between people we didn’t know very well to meet objectives. We also had to think on our feet and exercise resourcefulness and project management skills to reach the next big milestone.
How else has your experience on a World Challenge expedition helped you?
The real evidence of the impact this experience has had on my career is when I first started out, securing a place on the NHS graduate scheme. 20,000 people applied for 200 places, and throughout the six month recruitment process I reflected on World Challenge and referenced it frequently. I’m sure that my experience positively impacted on me securing a place on the scheme; it wasn’t just about academic achievement, my employers needed something else. If I hadn’t taken part in the expedition, I wouldn’t be where I am now.
Do you think that more young people should get involved in extra-curricular activities, like a World Challenge expedition?
I think it’s absolutely critical for young people to take part in extra-curricular activities; in fact, I think it should be part of the mainstream curriculum!
Experiences such as World Challenge shape the foundations of careers, broaden horizons and make people more open-minded and aware. Often the curriculum shows young people what they can’t do – for instance if they don’t get the grades – however extra-curricular experiences help them realise what they can do, learn more about who they are and increase their confidence.
A copy of the full report Step Ahead: What are employers looking for when recruiting graduates and school leavers? is available to view for free at: www.world-challenge.co.uk/stepahead