The Team

The Skills Development Service team is currently made up of 2 full time staff and 2 volunteer Student Peer Trainers.  Please feel free to contact the SDS staff at any time via email or organise a 1-2-1 discussion through Microsoft Teams or Zoom.

We recruit for Student-peer Trainers towards the end of the Spring semester for the following academic year with training taking place shortly after the summer examination period. Look out for adverts on our website and via the Jobshop. If you would like to talk about this opportunity please feel free to contact any members of the SDS team.

John Steele

Head of Training and Development

I have been managing the Skills Development Service since 2003 and my responsibilities include curriculum management, quality assurance, delivering sessions, supervising the training team and managing the budget. I also have prime responsibility for the provision of the externally-certified courses. My background is in the Railway industry which I joined in 1975 and it is there that I developed my passion for training and developing others. After starting off as a peer trainer in 1985 I became the Regional Training Officer for South Wales  in 1990 until 1996 when the post was expunged following privatisation. I then studied at University of Wales College, Newport for 5 years while carrying out my experiential learning teaching practice working in local colleges and learning providers. I am a licencee to deliver training for The Pacific Institute® and Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH).

I believe that every person has a right to realise their own potential. What I particularly relish about my job is meeting so many diverse and interesting students and helping them gain from my many years of experience while also helping them facilitate their own way forward. I gain no greater satisfaction than seeing our students feel positive about themselves, go into good employment or onto a progression following their experiences at the Skills Development Service. I am of the firm belief that teaching/training is an earned responsibility and that one is permitted rather than obliged to teach others. Outside of work I enjoy listening to and playing music as a guitarist, spending time with my fiancée and family, rugby, football, walking, and being an integral member and volunteer through my local church.

Dr Sum Mistry

Training & Development Co-ordinator

I’m Sum and I’m the Training and Development Coordinator. My responsibilities include delivering sessions, training and developing the team of Student Peer Trainers (SPTs), recruiting new SPTs and managing students enrolled on the Diploma of Professional Development in Leadership Award. I studied my Undergraduate degree at Cardiff University achieving a 1st Class honours. During my placement year, I completed the 3 CPD units of Communication, Leadership and Personal Effectiveness, before joining the team in 2013/14. In 2015, I gained Associate Fellow to the Higher Education Academy status for my work with the SDS and as the “Shadow Module” leader for Human Neuroanatomy. I went on to do a PhD in Psychiatric Genetics looking at genetic risk factors for bipolar disorder in the general population in 2015. Throughout that time, I progressed to become Senior Peer Trainer within the SDS team, became a Wellbeing Champion and a Police Student Volunteer. I have taken part in fundraising for both the “Student Sleepout” where I won the Individual Fundraiser of the Year, and in the Mini Jailbreak event, where myself and another SPT won Group Fundraiser of the Year as #TeamSDS. 

To me, guiding people to the realisation that they hold the key to their own success and learning is incredibly rewarding. When you see the lightbulb moment happen, the smile on their face is priceless. To quote Albert Einstein: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid” and “Education is not the learning of facts, rather the training of the mind to think.” When I’m not working, I enjoy going for long walks, nature, photography and rugby.

The Student Peer Trainers

The Skills Development Service wouldn’t be as successful without our talented and hardworking team of Student Peer Trainers.  To attain the role they go through a tough but rewarding interview process. Once they commence with us they attend a full and robust Train The Trainer course. Student Peer Trainers predominantly deliver our evening sessions but can also take extra sessions in the daytime. Many of our Student Peer Trainers work longer than a year if they are still Cardiff University students at the time, allowing them to grow in skills and confidence.  Meet some of our Student Peer Trainers below.


Nadine - Senior Student-peer Trainer

I’m Nadine, in the final year of my PhD and currently looking at different circular business models which help business organisations to produce in a more environmental-friendly manner. I will be working with the SDS staff team to focus on the provision through the eyes of the student population.  After being a Postgraduate Tutor, I joined SDS in September 2018. Since then I’ve manage to achieve the Higher Education Associate Fellowship, as well as the Diploma of Professional Development in Leadership accredited by The Institute of Leadership and Management.

Working with SDS has really developed my personal skills further. I am a lot more confident (not only in presenting i.e. at big conferences or delivering tutorials / seminars) but also in taking and tackling questions. It’s also the regular interactions with different people and their characters that have developed me further. I can see a difference in how I present and interact with people before I joined SDS and now.

SDS sessions are a wonderful experience to gain the soft skills employers are looking for. But most importantly, it’s a friendly and protected environment for you to learn countless transferable skills, that help you to stand out of the crowd! Interested? Come along!




Lowri - Student-peer Trainer and Welsh Language Developer

Shwmae! My name is Lowri and I am undertaking a Masters in Broadcasting Journalism.  Having completed the Cardiff Award and the Diploma of Professional Development in Leadership accredited by The Institute of Leadership and Management, I was eager to become a Student Peer Trainer to be able to deliver and promote the services of the SDS. I am a proud Welsh speaker so I will be delivering some SDS sessions through the medium of Welsh.