Lead 5050: Kate Htun

As part of BSC’s ongoing initiative to reward and recognise excellence and innovation within our employees, we are providing an opportunity for colleagues from across our business to be part of Lead5050, an organisation that empowers women in education. We are very proud to announce the candidates from within BSC that have been selected.

As well as this, four ‘BSC Leading Lights’ have been selected whose applications really stood out from the rest. These four women will head to Berlin in November to attend the Women in Education awards. We caught up with one of our 'Leading Lights,' Kate Htun, a Student Experience Facilitator at British Study Centres Edinburgh, to find out why the initiative is important to her. 

Kate Htun, Lead 5050 quote

What made you want to join Lead 5050?

I grew up in a small town called Kyaukme, in rural Burma. There, if you are a girl, you will become a daughter in law, a wife and a mother. Going to university and getting an education is only for one goal which is to stand out to potential suitors. If a girl is beautiful and educated, she makes a perfect wife for some lucky man, nothing more.

My father passed away when I was very young, my five sisters and I were raised by our mother who empowered us to be independent and ambitious. She fought to get take us out of the village and give us a better life; she encouraged us to study hard and go places. Two of my sisters and I were the first women in our family to go to university. I am the first person in my family to get a Master’s degree.

Sadly, my mother passed away before I could graduate. However, inspired by her hard work I went to northern Thailand to research the situation of Burmese migrant workers and the problems they face obtaining access to health care and education. Interviewing the people in those situations changed me and inspired me to want to do something more with my life.

I love working with students and working in the field of education but what I truly want is to gain the skills and experience that will allow me to one day return to my country and make a difference to the lives of the people I met doing my research. I want to give them the opportunities to achieve their potential as my family had.

What’s the most exciting project you’ve worked on so far at BSC?

I’m pretty new to BSC but we have recently had large groups of hundreds of students from a range of different countries. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know them all, helping them get the most out of their stay here in Edinburgh, and learning about their cultures.

What do you most enjoy about working at BSC?

I most enjoy the look on students faces when they come to us at the end of the course, happy with their experience and telling anyone who will listen about how amazing it has been for them. I love knowing that, as part of the BSC team, I was a small part of making that happen.

What’s been your biggest career success so far?

When I was doing research, I interviewed refugees living in Thailand and wrote their stories which were published in an NGO’s report. Helping other people see and understand the lives of people in such different conditions really had a meaningful impact on me.

What drives you in your career?

I passionately believe in being part of something that contributes to a better world. Education has the power to do that. At BSC, we have the opportunity to contribute in many ways, some ways are small, such as giving a student a positive experience of another culture, helping them open their minds and understand other people. Some ways are bigger, such as helping students form friendships that will last a lifetime or helping students pass an important exam that will let them go to university or get a better job. We have teenage students who will go back to their countries with treasured memories of their time in Edinburgh but we also have doctors from war-torn countries who need English to pass the OET and practice medicine again. We get to be part of all of that.

Is there a particular woman in business that inspires you?

Melinda Gates. She is often overlooked because of her husband but the work she has done through the Gates Foundation and other charities has made a huge difference to lives of millions of people around the world. She didn’t have to work so hard and dedicate her time and energy to making the world a better place, she could have lived a comfortable life with her family’s wealth, but instead she chose to go out and use her voice and her position to make a difference.

What innovations do you see in the future for BSC?

In my time at BSC, I hope to be involved in more projects that help the community. I think all companies have a responsibility to engage in the society around them and help contribute to the local community. This is an area that I hope BSC continues to develop and it is something I would love to be part of.

If you had one wish for the future, what would it be?

I would wish for the chance to work with less fortunate and marginalised groups again. I would want to bring some small part of what we do to communities and groups who traditionally don’t have access. For example, I have recently been working closely with the teacher training department and heard about a project BSC is running that sends teacher trainers to Kazakhstan to provide in-service training to local teachers. I believe that projects like this are important because they increase everyone’s access to education.

Interested in learning more about equality in International Education? Check out the Lead 5050 website.