Fiona Keady - UK Talent Business Partner - Leidos

Issued: Tue, 04 Aug 2020 00:00:00 BST

Tell us a fun fact about yourself

I was an athlete’s body double and a closing ceremony cast performer in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow!

Tell us about your career journey so far

Throughout school and university, I had no idea what job I wanted to do, so I kept my options open and studied a wide range of subjects. This meant there were lots of possible careers open to me - but at the time, it felt overwhelming and I found it difficult to decide which path to take. A chance conversation with my university careers service led to my first job in recruitment for a technology company, which then led to me getting a similar job in a bigger company, and over time I learned a lot about what I enjoyed, didn't enjoy and wanted to achieve through my work. Perhaps I should have had a longer-term career plan but for me, I’m glad I took the approach I did, as learning through experience and adapting to opportunities taught me to be flexible and not afraid of change.

Looking back on my career, I’ve worked for different companies and in different roles over the years but my focus has always been on helping people – whether it’s helping people learn, find work, grow their career, or develop their skills and confidence. A lot of my work, including my current role in learning and development, is in the technology sector, which is where my interest and connection to STEM comes from. Last year, I also became a Board member of a digital skills academy that helps people reskill or upskill in technology. It’s amazing to see what the future of technology may hold. Maybe one day I’ll take the plunge and become a technologist myself!

What was your favourite subject in school and why?

I enjoyed all my subjects in different ways but if I had to choose, I’d say Biology was my favourite, as I found it fascinating and I had a brilliant teacher who brought the whole subject to life. At the time, I thought the only careers you could have in Biology were “teacher” or “scientist in a lab” – this seems crazy now I know better. Biology taught me skills like analysis, reasoning, reporting and thinking creatively, which I use almost every day in my work now.

What subjects/qualifications are useful for your role?

In my current role, qualifications aren’t essential but it’s important to have an understanding of Business (especially Human Resources). Other subjects like English, Maths, Technology/Computing, Psychology and Admin can also be useful, and many of us choose to take qualifications in things like Project Management and Psychometric Assessment.

What is a normal day in your role like?

Busy and varied! I work full-time, 5 days a week from 8:30am to 5pm with an hour for lunch.  In a typical day, I'll drive to work (when we’re not in lockdown), have breakfast and then do most of my work on a computer – sending emails, taking part in video calls, doing research, working on documents (Excel, Word, PowerPoint), writing articles, editing videos, etc.  I'll also attend meetings and I often go to outside events, such as STEM festivals and careers fairs, where I talk to young people about our company and careers in technology.  I do a lot of my work myself but I also work in teams for some projects.  My main projects at the moment are designed to help people grow, succeed and be happy - whether that be my fellow employees or young people in our local communities.

What is your favourite thing about your job?

I love helping people and through my job, I can make a positive difference to people’s lives.

Can you suggest an activity that could be done at home that illustrates an aspect of your work? 

My work involves helping people learn. Sometimes this is done face-to-face but often it’s done remotely by video call or phone, which can make things tricky! To give the best chance of success, I need to communicate clearly and then check the other person has understood correctly. 

A simple way to try this out could be:

  1. Gather some paper, pens, two chairs and someone to act as your ‘learner’;
  2. Split the paper and pens between you;
  3. Put the chairs back-to-back, then sit down so you can no longer see each other;
  4. Ask the learner to wait a moment in silence while you draw a simple picture (e.g. a house, some shapes or an animal) – make sure the learner can’t see your drawing and don’t tell them what it is;
  5. Once you’re ready, ask the learner to follow your instructions to recreate the drawing step-by-step (e.g. if your drawing is a house, you might say “draw a large rectangle in the middle of the page; draw four small squares inside the rectangle…”, and so on). Explain to the learner they need to do this in silence so unfortunately they can’t ask you any questions – they just need to listen and follow your instructions as best they can;
  6. Once you’ve finished, compare the learner’s drawing with yours. Hopefully they will match!
  7. Chat to the learner about their experience:
    1. Do the drawings match exactly? Is there anything missing or different?
    2. Could the learner hear you? Did you go too fast or slow for them?
    3. What could you do the same, better or differently next time to get a perfect match in the drawings?

Follow-on: Once you’ve finished chatting, try the task again with a different drawing, different learner, or swap the teacher and learner roles.

Accessibility: If one or both people taking part have a hearing impairment, you could complete the task by sitting in different rooms and using text/instant messages to communicate rather than voice.

Just like in my work, the more you practice, the more you’ll learn how best to communicate, make it a good experience for your learner, and get a good result.


If you're a STEM Ambassador in Scotland and want to share your story you can download the form here.