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London, 8 August 2022– At SEO London, we transform the lives of talented, underrepresented candidates at the same time as addressing the lack of diversity in certain career paths, said Nathalie Richards, the new CEO of Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) London.

“It is a unique opportunity to drive systemic change in society,” she remarked.

Appointed to lead the organisation to achieve its mission of preparing talented students from underserved and underrepresented backgrounds for career success, Nathalie Richards is also the founder of EduKit, a social enterprise dedicated to helping schools to improve the mental health and wellbeing of their students. She also has a two-decade strong and varied career in consulting, education, and the third sector. She is a trustee of Virgin Unite, the charitable foundation of the Virgin brand and the Branson family.

Andrew Fairbairn, founder and former CEO of SEO London, and currently executive vice-president at SEO USA said: “The SEO leadership team could not be more pleased to see Nathalie Richards take up the CEO seat at SEO London. We searched for months to find an individual whose capabilities we felt would resonate with our students, sponsor firms, staff, and alumni. Nathalie’s strong and varied record across technology, education, management consulting, the charitable sector, and entrepreneurship lends itself to the multi-faceted, cross-industry nature of SEO London’s work. We are excited to see how she will engage with and deliver our mission of equal opportunity to all!”

Randy Sesson, former chair of the Board of Trustees elaborates further: “After an extensive professional search process, I and the rest of the Board of SEO London are very pleased to welcome Nathalie Richards as our incoming CEO. Nathalie’s breadth of both start-up, corporate and charity work experience made her stand out from an excellent group of candidates. In addition, we welcome her boundless energy, thoughtfulness, and passion as we seek to deliver ever greater social impact, working in conjunction with our already deep and experienced group of other senior managers and staff.”

Nathalie Richards shares her thoughts about inclusion, diversity, and the role of SEO London in the changing space of diverse and inclusive recruitment.

“I am incredibly connected to the mission and work of SEO London, so I am eager to go. Given the important times we are living in; the wake of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter, the pandemic, and a time when so many hugely talented young people are desperate for meaningful career opportunities, I cannot think of any organisation better equipped to do this vital work.

“I am excited, not only about the work we do supporting very talented diverse candidates to achieve their potential, but also about our opportunity to drive systemic change, whether through helping the organisations we work with to change their culture and practices or through our alumni who we encourage to help the next generation coming through by giving back and paying it forward.

“At the heart of SEO London there is a simple goal. We want to ensure that all young people can achieve their potential, irrespective of their ethnicity, gender or what their parents do. Our fantastic team supports young people from over 120 universities in the UK and abroad and gives them the skills, experience, guidance, and self-belief that they need to achieve success.”

How has your professional and personal trajectory prepared you for this role?

“Eight years ago, I founded a social enterprise called EduKit, that helps schools to better understand and support the mental health and wellbeing needs of their students through an innovative online surveying and analytics platform. Over the years I have also mentored school children for Young Enterprise and supported youth charities such as Generating Genius and The Access Project as a trustee and interim director. But perhaps the best preparation for my role is that I had a similar journey to many of our students. When I was growing up in Ilford, East London, I had never heard of a management consultant or an investment banker. I left school with raw ambition but a very limited understanding of the City and no idea of what I wanted to do. I took part in a similar programme to those run by SEO London, which opened my eyes to career possibilities in finance and consulting. It completely changed my life, so I know that what we do at SEO London works.

“For me, it has not always been an easy road, and we want to help students to understand that is not only about accessing great opportunities but also about preparing them for the times when things do not go according to plan. We need to help them to understand the power of networking and that resilience and grit are part of the journey.

“When I reflect on the career that I’ve had, as a Black woman in the corporate sector and more recently as an entrepreneur, it feels like my experiences have prepared me for this role even more than the technical or leadership skills I have developed. I have a first-hand understanding of the challenges around diversity and inclusion and know that change does not come from increasing representation alone, it is a fine art to create an organisational culture where everybody feels that they can bring their authentic selves to work and they will be valued and appreciated, and their contributions will be recognised.”

So, what are your plans and priorities?

“I plan to broaden our reach so that more young people can benefit from our offer. And crucially, I’m excited to announce that we will now be launching our offer in continental Europe. This is a hugely ambitious project and we have already made immense progress in France where we have signed up over 500 participants from local business and engineering schools. Having lived, worked, and studied in France, not least as an MBA student at INSEAD, I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to scale our programmes and impact in this way”.

How is SEO London different from other organisations?

“The reach of SEO London is unique as we work with participants from 15 years of age until retirement! In fact, there is no end point. The strength of our offer is grounded in our philanthropic and charitable approach, helping young people who would not have otherwise be able to access the most enriching careers, but also, we have a tangible offer for our partner firms because they want to increase diversity and attract talented candidates. I don’t see any other organisation that combines both. This is an incredibly unique and innovative offer and I feel hugely fortunate to be leading SEO London at this exciting time.”

Publish Date

Sunday, 7 August 2022

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