University of Surrey 

For Alumni and Supporters

My story

Here is a selection of some of the news alumni send us, in their own words...

Lucy Nathanson ( BSc Applied Psychology and Sociology 2012)

Everyone was complaining about the ‘credit crunch’ and how difficult it would be for new graduates to find a job. I refused to listen and now I have two amazing jobs in my field! I work two days a week in a private college teaching Psychology A-level, which is great as I am keeping hold of the theoretical side of psychology. While at university I was a psychology tutor (with Tutor Doctor, they advertised at careers fair) this gave me the necessary experience needed to apply for this teaching position.

In addition to this, three days a week I work as a ‘psychological wellbeing mentor’ in an alternative school for teenagers who have been excluded from mainstream school. I teach PSHE and do one-to-one mentoring with the students where we discuss their emotional issues and I put interventions in place. I love this job; I really feel like I am making positive changes and I am using valuable skills learnt in the placement year of my degree as well as theoretical knowledge from my course.

I feel like my placement year was an invaluable asset in gaining my jobs so quickly after graduating. Not only did it provide me with amazing experiences, but also gave me the confidence in my skills to apply for these jobs.

Not only this, but I have now set up my own business. I am a self-employed child coach, young person mentor, law of attraction coach and psychology tutor!  The child coaching involves helping children with difficulties such as low self-esteem and shyness – I love feeling as though I am helping a child come out of their shell and become happier. With young person mentoring I help teenagers with writing their personal statement and CV and with interview technique etc. Again, it brings real job satisfaction that I have helped someone. Law of attraction coaching involves working with adults to become more positive thinkers, lead a more positive life in order to achieve their goals and be happier. Finally, I tutor Psychology A-level students in essay writing and psychology content to help them to enhance their A-level grade. It’s so great to be self-employed as you are able to create a job based on what you are good at! If you require, or know anyone who requires any of these services, please send them on to me.

So overall, the message that I wanted to share was that despite society telling graduates that it is difficult to find a job in the economic climate, the best thing to do is ignore this and know that your ideal job is out there waiting for you. Go for it and don’t let anyone or anything hold you back!

Stefan Sikorski (BSc Hotel and Catering Management 1980)

 I went back to my native Manchester after graduating to run my family's 37-bed r hotel only to find that I missed the late night coffee sessions where all the world’s problems could be debated away with copious amounts of alcohol to aid the process.

Missing student life, with the assistance of my father, I continued to share the management of the hotel for another year, whilst enrolling on the only course for which I could get a local authority grant: a postgraduate certificate in education.

Then it was back to the grind, trying to develop a hotel that through a lack of finance was struggling to compete especially in recession years. I studied law at night classes and later embarked on a part-time MBA.

My building skills were learned from visiting contractors, until the point where I decided that the costs of building hotel extensions could be reduced by simply building them myself. My greatest building achievement is probably the Stables Leisure Club in Bury - a Victorian carriage house that was sympathetically converted in 1996 into a comprehensive leisure club with two large swimming pools, gym, spa, etc, all on an equestrian theme.

In 2001, I decided to enter the property market and currently rent out over 76,000sq ft  of industrial space. Later that year, being confident that finally the art of delegation was slowly sinking in, a second hotel was purchased. Additional hotels followed at two-yearly intervals and currently my company, Lavender Hotels, operates six hotels, four leisure clubs, a laundry, a building operation and the property business.

Some of my  550 staff were with me from the beginning, and, although budgets and financial planning have forced a certain seriousness to the work, the company still retains a family feel.

My natural risk-taking genes led me to qualifying as a helicopter pilot in 2008, yet my luck nearly ran out when I  survived a helicopter crash. I have now reverted to skiing and swimming.

In 2012, I was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Bury & Bolton Business Awards. The true test of how good in business you are comes not in the good times but how you conduct yourself when times are tough.

I care passionately about fulfilling or exceeding the promises I maks to clients, about the lives of my staff, but most of all myfamily.

Lavender Hotels will continue its organic growth, and the aim is to create a national group within the next 10 years.


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