On Wednesday 8th February, the Delscey Burns Theatre played host to the annual LVI Form Careers Conference: Inspiring Women. Following a warm welcome from Dr Kirk, our Chairwoman, Dr Linda Ashton, invited members of the guest panel, Anushka Chaudhry, Lynne Copp, Angela Foyle, Jenny O’Donoghue and Lucinda Orr, to give a short introduction to the girls about themselves and their professional roles. Next came an informative panel discussion and Q&A on The World of Work, after which the girls attended three different breakout sessions where each guest had the opportunity to concentrate on their own areas of expertise (Science & Technology, Medicine, Entrepreneurism, Accountancy, Retail & Marketing and Law).

In the afternoon, after everyone had a chance to relax and chat over lunch, St Mary’s Young Enterprise Team, Luna & Sol, gave their first formal presentation on their impressive range of tea products, receiving valuable feedback from our panel of guests. Quick to identify a marketing opportunity, they also sold some of their wares! The event drew to a close following a final Q&A, some prudent advice from our guests and a final conclusion from Mr Jones, Director of HE & Professional Guidance.

St Mary’s Calne cannot thank our guests enough for giving up their time so generously to share not only their personal expertise, but their own individual experiences of climbing the career ladder.

The girls gained a huge amount from the conference:

"The conference opened my eyes to a whole range of different career options. Throughout the day, during the multiple breakout sessions and the lectures, everyone gave really useful advice for not only university but for jobs in the future, making us see the bigger picture after university. It was particularly interesting to talk to Atkins Engineering’s Dr Linda Ashton, the Chair of the day, who runs nuclear waste management programmes around the world. It was great to see a very different example of science careers other than the typical doctor; she had many interesting stories about her work in this area and was very good replying to some of our slightly more obscure questions. Overall it was a wonderful day; I now feel that I have more confidence in the process of applying and what is coming in the future." (Charlotte)

"The morning panel session was crucial to understanding what each of the guests did and was a great opportunity to listen to those that we didn’t go to for the breakout sessions. The breakout session with Consultant Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon, Anushka Chaudhry, was fantastic - the small group size meant that I felt I could ask her as many questions as possible without feeling like 15 people were listening to a one-to-one conversation. She brought this amazing piece of technology with her that she used in her clinics which made her session really memorable. If only it had been longer!" (Jessica)

"I really enjoyed meeting Entrepreneur Lynne Copp, Founder & MD of the Worklife Company, as she gave me a real insight into entrepreneurship and the sort of qualities that a successful entrepreneur has. I am hoping to set up my own company when I am older so this was of real interest to me. She had a lot to say about a variety of topics and was really engaging at lunch. I found the morning panel session really useful as we felt we were actually in control of the direction that the discussion took as it was based on responses to our questions." (Hannah)

"I really enjoyed the careers conference, particularly the breakout sessions where you could talk to the guests in small groups. They discussed their career experiences, what they enjoyed most in their work and told us how they came to choose their university courses and then their jobs and the route they took to achieve this. I helped to host Angela Foyle, a Partner at BDO London, and I found her breakout session on Accountancy really informative. She was very interesting and kept us all fully engaged over lunch as well. It was really helpful to learn about a range of different careers and it inspired me to identify what course I would like to study at university." (Chloe)

"I thought it was a really inspiring event as all the speakers imparted some insightful knowledge about their sector, as well as motivational life advice. It was interesting to hear the life stories/career paths of all the panellists in the morning Q&A session. In the breakout session with the MD of Fenwick London, Jenny O'Donoghue, we discovered the daily routine of a managing director and just how complicated it was to be a buyer for a huge department store. I had never thought about all the factors involved in buying stock; it was intriguing learning about an area that I knew nothing about. The fact that all the panellists were female provided an interesting slant to the conference; we heard stories about discrimination the speakers had faced because of their gender, which reminded me of the struggles that women encounter regularly in the workplace and how important it is to stand up for yourself. In all, I found it eye-opening and inspirational to hear from so many successful women." (Maia)

"We had a very interesting day. The morning panel session was extremely useful and was filled with helpful advice from their personal experiences of the working world. They gave us an idea of some of the discrimination they have occasionally come across in the workplace and methods that they have used to combat it. Lucinda Orr is a commercial litigation barrister and Senior Associate at Enyo Law. In her breakout session she spoke to us about the way she got into Law and the different options available to people interested in perusing it as a career, which was also extremely informative. At lunch, she talked about her favourite cases and it was very inspiring to hear her talk about how much she has achieved and how hard she has worked while still enjoying her job." (Amber)