On Wednesday 16th February, St Mary's hosted an 'Inspiring Futures' Conference for all members of LVI to gain an insight into 'The World of Work'.
Our guest speakers included Alumnae Lucy Fisher (2007 leaver) who is Deputy Political Editor for the Daily Telegrapher and Amy Kent (1995 leaver) who runs her own bespoke Rug Company. Other guests represented a wide range of sectors from Wiltshire Police intelligence and development, women in innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.
The panel discussed a wide range of diverse topics including structured and purposeful vs opportunistic pathways into careers, challenges for women in the workplace and the most valuable skills in your current career. In depth break-out sessions followed in smaller networking groups, giving the pupils the chance to talk directly with each guest speaker.
Anna, Hannah and Juliette, current LVI pupils, shared their insights following their discussions with Lucy and Amy.
'It was an immense pleasure to get the opportunity to talk to Lucy Fisher, who is such a fascinating woman. From sharing her experiences at Calne, to university and then her career, nothing failed to spark an interest. She is a political journalist and so has great insight into the current politics and has led a fascinating life, from sitting in on Brexit talks to travelling and reporting in Afghanistan. One of the most important things I took away from talking to her was to follow your interests and to remain flexible and open-minded as things don't always work out as you anticipate! Her passion for her work was evident and it really showed just how important it is to go into a field of work which you will enjoy, something she stressed that was important.' Anna, LVI
'As a politics student and someone interested in international relations, I found Lucy's outlook on current political situations such as 'partygate' captivating. It is inspiring to see such a friendly, strong and successful woman reach the top level within her profession. I also learnt from her the importance of loving your job; you spend so much of your life working that you need to want to get up to go to work in the morning. You must also enjoy the interactions with the people you share your work time with. Her journey into journalism re-iterated this; she realised that she likes being on the front benches of conferences and likes the constant state of learning new things. Therefore, quickly-developing political situations were a perfect fit. I took this lesson to heart as it is easy to feel overwhelmed with choices of degrees at university, and the pressure to know your future career at such a young age. However, if I follow the subjects and hobbies that flip a switch for me, I now know that I will find my way to a career I enjoy.' Hannah, LVI
'Amy Kent is the owner of Amy Kent bespoke rugs. Mrs Kent studied Art here at St Mary's, before going on to study History of Art at the University of East Anglia. In the breakout session she spoke about how to be successful in a creative company. Mrs Kent started her business at the age of 27 in 2005. She was initially an interior designer, while simultaneously building up connections. She expressed the importance and significance of networking and how we can use it to our advantage. Eventually, she realised there was a gap in the market for high quality, bespoke rugs, and so started her own company providing them.
She talked through the process of creating the rugs, from the rug makers in India to the finished look in clients’ homes. She prides herself on the sustainability of her brand by using ethically sourced suppliers and providing jobs in India. She also ensures that her employees’ children in India are able to attend school in order to give back to the community.
Mrs Kent has designed and provided rugs for British embassies, such as the British embassy in Bangkok. She tried to simplify the complicated process of designing the pattern for her rugs by explaining how she is often inspired by an image and then uses photoshop to create a rug out of the print. All her rugs are hand-woven, and she works closely with clients and collaborates with them to ensure that the customer is satisfied with the final product.
She left us with a crucial message to not be afraid to start our own businesses, and to be brave and bold and truly follow what we love to do.' Juliette, LVI
A memorial service was held to celebrate the remarkable life of Christina Smith OBE (1951 Leaver) at the Donmar Warehouse Theatre. More...