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The journey to America

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The journey to America

Wednesday 08 May 2019

Here at Sheffield Hallam we have a global community of over 240,000 alumni, who are all successfully making their marks in countries all over the world.

Last month, we caught up with class of 2007 alumnus Lee Edwards, who studied a degree in Sociology at Hallam. Since graduating, Lee's passion for culture, travel and meeting new people has allowed him to excel in his career, leading him to head various operations teams for a global travel company, corporate traveller. The organisation manages travel programs for corporations that travel for business around the world.

His career path provided the opportunity to move to overseas, and he has worked in major cities such as San Diego and Philadelphia. Lee spoke to us about the journey he has been on to land a job in the United States, and reminisces about his time as a student in Sheffield.

How would you describe your time at Hallam? And has your experiences here helped you post-university?

My time at Hallam was a great eye opening experience which helped massively with my personal development. After growing up in a relatively small town in Ipswich, it really made me stand on my own two feet, get out of my comfort zone and meet new people. I really liked the freedom that Sheffield Hallam gave its students to shape their own studies.

Tell us about your journey to working in America?

After graduating in Sociology I didn't have an exact idea of what I wanted to do. I explored many options including those in the public sector, recruitment, marketing and eventually travel. I took a job in 2007 for a global travel management company, which offered many different career options. I progressed through the company into a leadership position in one of its London offices, and when I hit my mid-twenties, I perused the chance to try and work in one of fastest growing markets, the United States.

The company sponsored me for a visa to transfer to the USA to help open a team in our brand new Philadelphia office. After a couple of years in the Philly market I was promoted to open a team in California, before our continued grow in the North East brought me back to Philadelphia to head another new operations team.

My philosophy throughout my career is you don't always have to know what you want to do, just what you want to do next. For me that has opened up a lot of doors and fresh challenges. I think your career and life in general is too unpredictable to have a defined plan and it will never turn out as you expect. So I have enjoyed taking some risks and tackling new ventures in various markets.

Did you always plan to work in a different country?

Yes. I think what led me to travel in my first place was my passion for it. I enjoyed visiting new countries, meeting new people and exploring new cities. Just as moving to Sheffield got me out of my comfort zone from my hometown, moving to the US has done the same. I've worked for the same company since University but during that time have worked in two different brands, in four different cities and in two different countries. For me that is exciting and keeps things interesting. Not only does this look good on your CV but it shows other people that you are not afraid of a new challenge.

Do you have fond memories of your time in Sheffield and is there anything about the city that you miss?

Sure! I think most people that left their home to go to University always will have some fond memories of that city. I certainly remember it as a fun and exciting time, although it's over a decade ago now which is a little bit scary. I loved the campus on Ecclesall Road and lived right by it for most of my time in the city. I haven't been back for many years so I am well overdue a visit, a walk around the old campus and maybe even a pint in the Nursery tavern!

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