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Five minutes with: Denise Coles

23 March 2023

4 mins

This new feature has been launched by the Internal Communications team as a way to spotlight our amazing colleagues across both our campuses, celebrating their achievements both inside and outside of work. ‘Five Minutes With’ will feature in our weekly staff newsletters and we hope you can all engage with this new initiative which may help you to develop new partnerships with teams across the institution.

If you would like to feature in ‘5 Minutes With’, or you work with someone who you think would be great to include, please email Soph Dinnie at

What is your job title and how long have you worked at Loughborough?

I am an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Officer with race specialism and I’ve worked here seven months.

Tell us what a typical day looks like for you?

Before I start work, I usually do some type of meditation or exercise. This puts me into the mental space to approach the day with fresh eyes and the attitude that each day is a new start.

I review my to-do list which will already be prioritised according to what needs to be acted on first. Some days are meeting-heavy and these are usually with people or groups across the organisation with an EDI or race focus work interest. On days like this, it’s especially important to meditate at the start of the day as this helps to keep my energy and focus high throughout the day and usually guarantees positive outcomes from the meetings.

When I have fewer meetings this affords time to work on ongoing projects such as monitoring Race Equality Charter (REC) activity. If time permits, I’ll attend an EDI webinar; the last one I attended was about how to create an environment of inclusion and belonging, and I enjoy reading articles on sites such as WonkHE. This type of activity helps me to keep my EDI knowledge up to date and informs my working practices. This helps me to problem-solve with others within my team and across the organisation.

When the day is over and I’m walking or running home I’ll mentally go through the day and give thanks for whatever came up. Even if things have been challenging there is usually something positive that will come out of a given encounter; essentially, I look for the learning opportunities.

What’s your favourite project you’ve worked on?

I enjoyed working on the Race Equality Charter/Loughborough University Race Equity Strategy budget. Monies have been granted for people to work on race-related projects which will help progress race equity here at Loughborough University. People all across the organisation were invited to bid on race equity projects. These were all an eclectic mix of proposed work to enhance the experiences of students from marginalised backgrounds at Loughborough University and the London campus and to create an environment and atmosphere where their needs, aspirations, and experiences matter.

What is your proudest moment at Loughborough?

Without a doubt, receiving an email from a senior manager asking me about her team’s REC actions because she needed them for their upcoming Personal Development Review. For me, this was a signal that the visibility of my post and actions have raised the awareness of race equity and how working towards race equity is not at the detriment to any other group, it benefits all in a variety of ways. If race equity and EDI are simply part of all our working practices and colleagues are recognised and rewarded for work that has this focus, then we are empowering the notions that race equity and inclusion is everybody’s business and brings the strategy of Creating Better Futures. Together into sharp focus.

Tell us something you do outside of work?

I have been to Norway several times and love it there. I love swimming in lakes and walking in and picnicking in the lush Norwegian forests with my family. I am even planning to run the Oslo marathon in September.

What is your favourite quote?

Essayist and Black queer advocate, James Baldwin said: “I can’t believe what you say when I see what you do.” This is a lovely quote because it’s a reminder that your words won’t be taken seriously if they don’t match your actions and in the case of my working practice and role it is my standard and what I’m prepared to be judged by.

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