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Kelly Hayward

Kelly Hayward completed her Master's in Public Health (MPH) at Warwick. We caught up with her to find out what she thought of the course and her advice for applicants.

What's your career background?

It’s quite long, I left school at 16 with only GCSEs, however I managed to build a successful career for myself in the private sector over about 13 years. My main area of work was in product development and project management. This involved a lot of relationship building with both customers and suppliers, and robust organisational and time management skills. I dealt mainly with customers in the UK and suppliers in the Far East and Europe, so it involved a lot of travel, navigating time zones and cultural differences.

Why did you decide to do the Public Health course at Warwick?

I left the private sector to raise my young family and found myself living in Hong Kong for four years to support my husband’s business. During this time, I was unable to work so I decided to start an online Psychology BSc. I’ve always been a bit of a health geek and have a strong interest in mental health, so I gave it a try. During my undergraduate degree, I moved back to the UK and begin working in mental health settings and volunteering for mental health charities. I realised I wanted a career in improving people’s health, but I wanted to take a holistic and preventative approach. Public Health felt like a good fit, especially the Warwick MPH as it is one of the few with a Mental Health and Wellbeing module.

How did you find the course?

I absolutely loved my MPH at Warwick. Due to Covid, it was taught primarily online, which was disappointing as I was looking forward to attending a ‘bricks’ university. However, after three years of an online undergraduate degree I was quite well prepared for online learning. I also found learning in intensive blocks helpful in terms of planning and fitting around work commitments and childcare.

What professions are the other students on your course from?

It was a diverse group. There were some new graduates from science backgrounds, some career changers like me, but then also some professionals already really embedded into our health systems such as midwives, dentists, and GPs.

What were your favourite parts of the course?

I enjoyed the variety of different pieces of work we were asked to produce for each module assessment. My favourite assignment was a briefing report for the health protection and disease prevention module. This looked at improving the energy efficiency of rental properties, looking at everything from climate change to fuel poverty to the adverse effects of cold and damp homes. Not necessarily what you would expect on this course, but it really encompassed taking a systems approach to promoting good health and tackling health inequalities, which is what I am passionate about.

What aspects of the course did find challenging?

The most challenging thing was managing life around the course. My family and I caught Covid halfway through the course and schools were closed for periods, so there was a lot of juggling to do. The course director and pastoral care at Warwick were amazing during this time and really gave me the confidence to pace myself and still achieve grades I am proud of.

How do you feel the course benefited you?

Enormously, I’ve just started working for my local authority as a Public Health Principal. Although this uses a lot of my transferable skills that I picked up in the private sector, the knowledge and skills I picked up completing my MPH meant that I was able to ‘hit the ground running’ in my new post.

Do you have any advice to offer other professionals considering doing the course?

Go for it! If you’re interested in health, or if you already work in healthcare and you want to learn more about the wider determinants of health, there are endless possibilities of how this course can enhance your knowledge and skills.