Students hear from alumni at annual Talk Sport Conference

On 3 February 2022, fourteen alumni volunteered to share their expertise and career experiences at the annual Talk Sport Conference, helping to inspire the next generation of Loughborough graduates.

Opening the day with a session on sports science was alumnus Dr Ed Leng, Lead Sports Scientist at Manchester United FC. He gave an insight into his day-to-day role with the Premier League side, as well as exploring the holistic nature of the role.

Coming together to form a panel on Women in Sport were alumnae Sue Anstiss MBE, CEO, Fearless Women; Lynsey Douglas, Head of Brands UK, Global Women's Sport Lead, Nielsen Sports; Helen Rowbotham, CEO, Access Sport; and Barbara Slater OBE, Director of Sport, BBC.

Chaired by alumna Sue, who hosts the award-winning Game Changers podcast, the panel discussed their early experiences of sport and changeable attitudes to women’s sport and how that is portrayed in the media. They all encouraged students to reach out to people for support and to build networks, and to ensure students can demonstrate relevant experience in job applications.

Students heard from alumnus Merlin Van de Braam, Head of Coach Development & Support, Lawn Tennis Association. He discussed building a career in sports administration and development and particularly within tennis.

Alumna Mhairi Keil, Performance Nutritionist at English Institute of Sport, shared her experiences in sports nutrition and encouraged students to develop soft skills including how to manage relationships, collaborate, and adapt.

Later in the day students heard from alumnus Michael Cooper, Strength and Conditioning Coach at Tottenham Hotspur FC, on strength and conditioning, including tips on finding roles in the industry, saying yes to opportunities, and gaining experience whilst studying.

Other sessions included an insight into sports operations & finance with alumnus Neill Wood, Financial Controller at Manchester City Football Club, and performance data analysis with alumna Saira Mirza from Chelsea Football Club. Academic pathways into sport saw alumna Dr Joanne Fallowfield join panellists from the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, whilst others took the opportunity to hear about entrepreneurship in sport from the Loughborough Enterprise Network.

To close the day, four people formed a panel and were in discussion with the University’s Executive Director of Sport, John Steele OBE. Alumni Jennie Cooper, Head of Games Strategy & Planning, British Paralympic Association; Steve Mitchell, Co-Founder, Sporting People; and Ashlea Smith, Head of Children, Young People and Families, ukactive; and the University’s Director of Athletics, Femi Akinsanya, discussed their careers, experiences, and tips for succeeding in the sports industry.

Thank you to our volunteers for sharing their expertise.

Find out more about volunteering at the University.