PLN Celebration Event

Celebrating the impact social science and law students make in the real world

The Professional Liaison Network (PLN) develop real-world experiences for students so they can apply their disciplines outside the classroom, and as a result, understand the impact they can make with their degree. The PLN’s Celebration Event showcased the extraordinary impact that collaborative activities have made to students and partners.

The PLN’s mentoring schemes, placements, and research projects enable students to apply their disciplines to professional contexts. The celebration event, held on the 10th April 2024, celebrated the impact of these collaborations and the students who went above and beyond.

PLN Celebration Event Palie Smart

Keynote speech from Associate Pro Vice –Chancellor, Professor Palie Smart

Student Stories

The event was attended by partners, academics, and students against a backdrop of posters that showed the breadth and impact of student activities.

Among the stories was that of Rory’s Well – a charity dedicated to improving lives in rural Sierra Leone. Student Jess Thomlinson-Blount (MSc Society Politics and Climate Change) undertook a research project to analyse the effects of sustainable agricultural techniques on farming communities. While this work has already had a profound effect on the charity’s work in Sierra Leone, Jess commented that the project had enabled her to develop “highly transferrable skills” such as “data analysis and data presentation, and the ability to produce the report involved communicating complex ideas in an accessible and engaging way.”

Elsewhere, we learned about Karen Phillips (BSc Economics & Management), who undertook a placement at DEFRA. Karen supported the team by creating summaries of current reports and literature on the impacts of chemicals and pesticides on the environment, human health and the economy. Karen commented, “it’s made me more aware of my strengths and weaknesses, and I’ve become more proactive in reflecting on my personal development.”

PLN Celebration Event John Shepherd

John Shepherd, FRANK Water

Several PLN partners gave presentations, emphasising their unique relationship with the PLN and how working with social sciences students has benefited their organisation.  

Associate Pro Vice –Chancellor, Professor Palie Smart (pictured top) delivered an engaging keynote speech that discussed the role of the University as a ‘global civic’ institution and its commitment to making a local, national, and global positive impact.  

Ian Roderick, Director of The Schumacher Institute, and Jon Shepherd, Head of Programmes and Funding at FRANK Water, (pictured above) gave attendees a powerful insight into how working with students can offer new perspectives on the most challenging environmental and societal issues, both locally and internationally.

Freddy Farias Arias, Economist and Lead Coordinator for National Statistics at the ONS, shared his experiences of being a mentor, and how he has enriched his student studies through workplace visits and mock cabinet meetings.

Scarlett Hagger, Enterprise Executive at WECA, discussed the special relationship between PLN and the West of England Growth Hub. Together, the teams are working collaboratively to support the current business landscape and share business intelligence to meet current needs.

Peregrine Risk Management, who host placement students in partnership with the PLN, wrote on LinkedIn  “The event was incredibly valuable as we got to hear from current partners about their brilliant experiences so far. A huge thank you to our hosts at the Professional Liaison Network and congratulations to all the students who won awards this year - we are looking forward to being able to contribute further at the next event.”

PLN Celebration Event Wiesley Tang

Wisely Taing receiving Civil Impact Award from Sarah Kruger, Deloitte 

Time to celebrate

The event was also an opportunity to reward those students who had engaged with their mentors, or gone the extra mile to deliver impactful projects and placements.

The prizes presented at the event were kindly sponsored by partners of the PLN including Deloitte, Lloyds Banking Group, Ovo and Burges Salmon. A full list of prizes and sponsors are listed below.

Eva Craig received the Sustainability Award, sponsored by OVO, for her research project with FRANK Water and ARUP. Eva’s report provided significant insight into water resource management projects in Africa – so much so, that the work was submitted and selected for the 4th IAHR Young Professionals Congress.

Wisely Taing (pictured above) was the recipient of The Civic Impact Award, sponsored by Deloitte, after being nominated by Dr Mike McBeth, Education Director. Her project, in partnership with Venturers’ Academy, fostered a relationship between her former school in Cambodia and the Academy. As a result of her placement, teachers from the Cambodian school visited Bristol to learn more about how the Academy teaches and works with SEN children.

To learn more about what the PLN does, or to get involved, please contact


Prize Winners

The Sustainability Award. Sponsored by OVO. Awarded to Eva Craig for her research project with FRANK Water

The Business Impact Award. Sponsored by Burgess Salmon. Awarded to Alwiyah Qassim, Kit Kniveton and Rosa Fullwood-Guariglia for their placement with Bristol City Council

The Civic Impact Award. Sponsored by Deloitte. Awarded to Wisely Taing for her placement with Venturers Academy.

The Bristol Mentoring Award. Sponsored by Lloyds. Awarded to Carla Forster for her her performance as a mentee. 

Edit this page