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Sheffield Girls' welcomes alumnae speakers back to school for our Live Lunch speaker programme

Our programme of Live Lunch speaker sessions has got off to a fantastic start this year. Just before half-term we were joined by Esme Rodger, class of 2006, Chief Brand Officer at Waldencast Brands and this week we were delighted to be joined by Nikki Alderson, class of 1992, a former criminal barrister who now works as an executive coach specialising in supporting and empowering female talent in the legal profession. 

Our Live Lunch speaker session programme provides the opportunity for our students to hear from alumnae about their career pathways, their challenges and highlights and their top tips for the world of work. 

Esme runs the start-up beauty incubator, Waldencast, which has created several fragrance, skincare and make-up brands, all with a strong focus on sustainable entrepreneurship. She is a dedicated advocate for young women in business and has a real focus on developing and accelerating the next generation of beauty industry talent. Her team of 40 is 95% female and run by a female lead board. 

After some time working for international brand Danone , Emse landed her dream job at L’Oreal, working her way up to being Maybelline Marketing Director within 5 years. Esme was then headhunted to lead Waldencast Brands and we are extremely proud of everything she has achieved and the path she has forged. 

Esme’s top tip for our sixth formers was: “Follow your strengths and don’t be afraid to take a less trodden path to achieve your goals”.


Our second speaker, Nikki Alderson, spent 19 years as a criminal barrister, including several stints in Jamaica supporting attorneys who represented those on Death Row. This was a career highlight for Nikki, but did lead to her reevaluation of her career goals. On her return from Jamaica, Nikki studied   for her coaching qualifications while continuing to work full-time at the Bar. 

She said that the most rewarding parts of her career were being an integral part of the defence team ultimately saving a man who was wrongly convicted, from the death penalty, writing a book and doing a TEDx talk about her experiences and successfully transitioning from the Bar into business as a coach and a speaker. 

Nikki was inspiring, honest and gave our students vital insights and advice. She advised our pupils to:  “Back yourself and define success your way”, going on to say that: “Sheffield Girls’ taught me to not be afraid to stand out from the crowd and gave me the confidence and courage to follow my own path.”

“I really enjoyed the Live Lunch - as someone who is especially interested in pursuing a career in law it was incredibly insightful to hear from someone who has worked in and experienced the legal sector at the highest level.It was also inspiring to hear from a highly successful woman striving for better opportunities for other women especially in a traditionally male-dominated industry.” Olivia, Year 12

We’re looking forward to next term’s Live Lunch, when we’ll be joined by a panel of five alumnae exploring their experiences in the world of work. 

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