Hi there! I’m Sally Fairburn, International Recruitment Officer at the University of South Wales in the UK.
I have a long-standing history with the University; my career started in 2006 as an Admissions Assistant and shortly after joining, I was promoted to Admissions Officer. In 2012, I joined the International Office as an International Executive. I have had the pleasure of managing many different regions from the Middle East, South East Asia and covering some recruitment trips to Nigeria and Ghana but now my responsibilities lie in managing student recruitment in The Americas, Norway, Europe and Sri Lanka. I consider myself extremely lucky to have had the chance to visit some truly amazing countries such as Myanmar, The Philippines, Vietnam, Kuwait, Oman and the UAE to name just a few!
I didn’t take the traditional route of applying to study at University when leaving college at the age of 18; instead I secured a role at HSBC Bank and this is where I stayed for 3 years until I moved from my home county of Somerset in England to Cardiff in Wales. I cannot express enough how friendly Welsh people are, they really do welcome you with open arms and make you feel part of the family! I was literally welcomed to the family as it is in Wales 12 years ago when I met my husband. We have now been married for four years and have a 2 1/2 year old daughter. During the first few years of my employment at the University of South Wales, I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to study for my BA (Hons) Business Management degree on a part time basis whilst I was working full time. It wasn’t easy at times, but it was worth it in the end and I graduated in 2010 with a First Class Honours degree.
When I started working at the University, I didn’t even know the role of an International Recruitment Officer existed let alone what one does. But having worked closely with the International Office, my eyes were quickly opened. I loved the opportunity to meet students from all over the world to help them in their decision making but I also had the chance to visit countries that I would never have imagined visiting in my lifetime. I love learning about different cultures and meeting other UK university International Recruitment Officers whilst on the road and through this I have made some great friends.
My role gives me so much job satisfaction; to meet international students with their families in their home countries and then see them on campus flourishing and meeting so many new friends from all around the world really does make me feel like the proud mum! Where possible, I try and meet my students for coffee and cake in the Starbucks on campus just to have a general catch up and make sure that they are settling in fine. It was tough at the beginning leaving home for sometimes 3 weeks at a time and missing out on events with friends and family but it gets easier and the time on the road tends to go by quickly as my itineraries tend to be full to the brim! I haven’t travelled on a work trip overseas since January 2020 due to COVID and it is amazing how quickly everyone in the industry has adapted to this new way of working. It has worked out well for me as I have been able to spend more time with my daughter. My husband and daughter joined me on recruitment trips to Norway, Greece and Cyprus just before the pandemic hit and this was a great way to incorporate work and a family holiday.
As you can probably imagine, with a toddler running around plus working a full-time job, I don’t have much time to my self but when I do, I try to catch up with friends over dinner and a few drinks, take time out to read a book or book in a few music concerts to look forward (prior to Covid!). I’ve had the pleasure of recently seeing P!NK, Coldplay, Adele and Gregory Porter. I also enjoy hiking and we have some spectacular mountains in our local area to explore and enjoy; I’ve actually taken two different groups of students (from Thailand and Vietnam) with me on hikes in the recent years and they were blown away by the scenery. We are very lucky in the fact that we live close to a beach, so we like to visit when possible; the weather is a little unpredictable here in south Wales so as well as sitting and building sandcastles sometimes it’s a case of wrapping up warm with the waterproof gear on and blowing away the cobwebs with a walk along the beach.
Covid has given us many challenges but also allowed us to reconsider the way in which we work, and I am grateful for that. My role has always required me to be flexible with my working hours, especially when I am on the road, but COVID has allowed me to spend more time with my family. Hybrid working suits me and allows me to work effectively whilst being there for my family and I am glad that this way of working will continue post-Covid.