Keynote at Ahead at BETT 2024

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to interview multi-award winning international speaker Hayley Mulenda at the world’s largest education information technology showcase. Attended by more than 30,000 educators, policymakers and industry change makers – the BETT Showcase featured an array of events and talks for the education sector.

Having previously presented alongside colleagues from the University of Plymouth at the Jisc Change Agents Network in 2022 and in 2023, Jisc recommended our Student Digital Champion scheme to the event organizers in seeking a keynote speaker. I was privileged to be invited to facilitate the morning keynote at Ahead at BETT on Friday 24th January – in conversation with Hayley Mulenda.

Hayley chose to begin speaking out about her experiences after nearly taking her own life at the age of eighteen and has become a powerful advocate for diversity and inclusion across the world, helping leaders to bridge the gap between millennials and Gen Z. Hayley’s work focuses on remembering the power of authenticity and vulnerability in a world that has an overabundance of ‘role models.’

In conversation with Hayley Mulenda

In our keynote session titled “Meeting the needs of a changing workforce: How should Higher Education adapt?” Hayley and I chatted about what had motivated to begin speaking out following her experiences, strategies young people can take advantage of to avoid burnout whilst pursuing success and becoming a “real model” rather than a “role model.”

Hayley reflected upon her higher education experience under the UKs lockdown restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and how her institution had taken the wrong approach in responding to student wellbeing. Building on Hayley’s experiences and the prevalence of social media in the lives of Gen Z, I asked Hayley how she thought higher education institutions might be able to take advantage of social media to empower students in regards to their wellbeing as they start to think about entering the graduate job market for the first time.

Drawing on Hayley’s wealth of experience in the corporate sector, acting as a board member for restaurant giant Wagamama, Hayley and I also chatted about how organizations might be able to better prepare to welcome Gen Z into their workforce, whilst emphasizing the importance of personal empowerment and individual wellbeing.

Reflecting upon our conversation at BETT, Hayley said:

“Bett Show 2024! We spoke about mental health, graduate recruitment, student experience, Gen-Z and so much more! It was a great discussion with Vivian Hocking on what Higher Education can do to meet the needs of students and young people today!”

– Hayley Mulenda