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Alumni of the month – October 2014

Donna Herdsman
Business Studies, 1984

Robert Humphreys

Donna Herdsman is the UK Public Sector Transformation Leader at Hewlett Packard, having also worked as an Executive Partner for IBM’s Global Business Services. Whilst at IBM she was also a Member of the Diversity Council and Executive Sponsor of IBM’s Ethnicity Leadership Team. Donna recently became a judge for the inaugural 2014 Black British Business Awards. She actively supports progression and personal growth for all but , in particular women and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) people.
Since graduating from LSBU in 1984, Donna has embarked on a remarkable international career that has included senior positions for some of the world’s most recognisable multi-national companies. In the late 1990s, she worked with the Government of South Africa and led the PricewaterhouseCoopers team supporting an outsource initiative. In Mozambique, on behalf of the Department for International Development, she supported the government in the transformation of their customs service, focused on helping to improve the overall welfare of the country and its people.
Donna is passionate about seeing all develop, fulfill their dreams and maximise their potential. She will sit on the judging panel for this year’s Black British Business Awards, which celebrates exceptional performance and outstanding achievements of black people in businesses operating in Great Britain: “I was extremely honored when they asked me to be a judge. It was founded by two very dear friends of mine, one of whom I had the pleasure of working with and mentoring, and the other whom I met at a social community event.”
Donna has taken inspiration for her career from her parents, family and geography teacher: “I can remember being told at 16 to become a secretary. That’s a good, honest profession but in no way did that reflect what I was capable of doing or becoming. Knowing others believed in me enabled me to have greater belief in myself and explore avenues of academic and personal growth. As a black woman, I think it’s important that I now encourage others to believe in themselves and maximize their potential. I know how role models have influenced me extensively and if I help motivate just one person, then that’s an achievement in itself.”
Donna believes the difference between success and failure comes down to an individual’s ability to recognise that there are no boundaries except those placed on oneself: “We all need to know that it’s ok to stretch horizons and boundaries to be the best we can be. If you work hard and are committed, you can do anything. The debate therefore becomes about how well you can do something, not if you can do it.”
Whilst studying Business Studies at LSBU, Donna undertook a year-long industrial placement with the BBC which gave her the practical experience to focus on finance in her final year and provided the basis for her longer-term career. “I have lots of good memories of LSBU including meeting a wide range of new people, the lectures and the variety of sports.” Since graduating, Donna also studied and qualified from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA). She has also completed an Advanced Diploma in Strategy and Innovation at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. ‘
Donna continues to support initiatives that focus on the growth of talent and stresses the importance of encouraging schoolchildren to believe in themselves if we are to see broader representation in business generally and the boardroom specifically. She recommends that current LSBU students take their time to find out what they want from their career, but to also keep investing in themselves to ensure they remain able to add value to their chosen organisation and profession: “When I look back at my career, I still use all the skills I developed throughout such as auditing, accounting and public speaking to name a few. LSBU provided me with that insight into the importance of public services , a focus which still remains with me today.”