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Tiana Holgate

Having been named in the Top 150 Future Leaders list for 2020-21 by Powerful Media, Tiana Holgate (BA Sociology with Specialism in Race and Global Politics, 2021) is taking a different view on leadership.


What is your current role?

I'm working as a Student Liaison Officer at the University of Warwick. I work in the Report and Support team, which means I respond to disclosures of all forms of harassment, including sexual misconduct. I also work on projects and campaigns to tackle those issues across the University. It's very proactive, as we look at both prevention and intervention.

I find my role really fulfilling and it’s in line with issues I care about.


What are the three words you would use to describe yourself.

Empathetic, adventurous, and curious.


What does leadership mean to you?

I never associated myself with the term ‘leader’ before and have found the idea difficult to come to terms with, but that's because of the traditional idea of what leadership can be. It can often be seen as a dictatorship - ‘I'm here and you're there’ view. In contrast, I have a non-hierarchical approach to life. I don't believe that anyone exists in any real hierarchy.

Leadership is about taking the skills you have and using them for the betterment of others, to support your communities and other groups of people who maybe don't have what you have, or don't have access to spaces that you have access to.

In the modern world leadership comes in so many different forms. It’s about finding your strengths and applying them in the most effective way possible.


What does it mean to you to be identified as a Future Leader?

It makes me feel proud and very optimistic that I can be given that role just by being myself. I don’t know exactly what leadership will look like in the future for me, but the groundwork is there. Being identified as a Future Leader means knowing I have some really good seeds planted, and they can grow in any way.


What was the most important thing that you learned from your time at Warwick?

A lot of learning happens outside of the traditional classroom. I believe that education happens where there is community, and so does growth and development - both personal and collective. You essentially learn all the time!

I love the fact that I’m not the same person I was when I started university, and that's due to many factors. The academics who delivered the content; the friends I made; the communities I found myself in, the experiences we all shared together. So much learning happened in those settings, which I think is just so valuable to take forward.


Do you have a favourite memory of studying at Warwick?

Being elected Welfare and Campaigns Officer in the Students Union. It was so exciting to think change may be ahead and was emotional all at the same time!

Submitting my dissertation. It wasn't anything outwardly exciting, but I had a difficult final year and it felt really good to feel so proud of what I produced. It was a testament to the belief I had in myself to get it done against the odds and to the people that supported me in various ways in the process.


Did you have a favourite extra-curricular club or activity?

I got involved in a lot of societies, which I loved. There are so many different types, such as the Black Women’s Project and Anti-Racism Society. It was a chance, not just to learn and talk about shared experiences, but to enjoy and have fun.

The Black Women's Project started at Warwick and is also now at the University of Southampton, which is amazing. It’s a great society, the slogan is ‘Be Well, Do Well, Lead Well’, it covers topics including wellbeing, community, education, and opportunities. It was such a fulfilling and encouraging environment to be in.


Students Union

How did your time at Warwick help shape your thoughts and ideas for your career?

My degree gave me the capacity and ability to critique, be curious, ask questions and not just take things as they are. It taught me to always dig deeper and have a greater imagination for my future career.

I can see it now especially in my work life, I'm always asking questions or trying to understand more and more, or get to the why.

Warwick, in different ways, whether it be through friendships, academic life or campaigning, helped to push me out of my comfort zone. It broadened my lens and my worldview.


What or who inspires you?

My positive inspiration is my mum, she’s amazing. When I think about inspiration I think about her character, and that’s so special to me.

I also think about inspiration in other way, by what change could look like. For example, when I worked on culturally competent mental health support for students at Warwick, what inspired me was the prospect of the most marginalised students achieving equal access to, and experience of mental health services. It can be quite hard when there is a big gap between the reality and what the end goal is. But it’s an exciting gap.


What’s next on the horizon for you?

I am really open in this regard, I am just taking each day, month, season as it comes. I always want to continue to work in areas which support others and facilitate change. This would be in all areas of my life - not just in paid work but in projects I might work on outside. I imagine that, over time, the shape this takes will continue to adapt and I’m not sure what this will look like exactly. So next on the horizon for me is supporting and facilitating change, in whatever way is most fitting.