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Careers Week Blog – Day 1!


This week The Mount celebrates Careers Week with Old Scholars sharing their wisdom and insights in person and online.

After having been given the schedule and a document briefly describing each presenter’s career, each girl signed up to sessions which appealed to her own career aspirations. Some years were given a set number of sessions to sign up to, whilst girls in Year 11 and College II (who face GCSEs or A-Level examinations this year) had more leeway.

In the first session, during Choc Lunch, Honor von Schmieden (1990) spoke to a packed room via Zoom from the USA, where she is Verizon’s Head of Legal for their global privacy (data protection) unit. Honor had come into the legal profession having studied linguistics at university. She encouraged the girls to follow their interests with what they study, and to understand that in order to become ‘a lawyer’ one did not necessarily have to study a law degree. Post-graduate law conversion courses, such as the one Honor studied in York, allow graduates from all disciplines to gain qualifications to apply to work in the legal sector.

The second session, in the first half of lunch, began with a quiet buzz as girls lining up for lunch saw a hi-viz uniform and a member of the police force walking purposefully toward the History room. Suzie Nellis (2016) returned to The Mount after her degree to became a resident graduate in Boarding, a stint which was cruelly cut short thanks to lockdown.  

Suzie gave her in-person presentation to a room teeming with girls, beginning with the advice, “Make the most of your time here. I did not realise until after I left College II how great The Mount is and how many opportunities you have to explore the world beyond.” When leaving College, Suzie did not know which career she aspired to. “I thought I would become a solicitor,” she said. Her first attempt to join the Police was unsuccessful, but persistence paid off and the second time she applied she was accepted via Police Now. Suzie has been an officer since July 2020 and is now in a graduate scheme.  

After her talk with the Senior girls, Suzie joined the Junior School in Music for a Q&A session where the sea of questioning hands seemed to grow as the session progressed. Some of the girls’ questions included, “Do you have an alsatian?” (no, but colleagues of hers are specialist dog handlers and do work with alsatians), “What’s the hardest part of your job?” (not taking it personally when someone sees her as ‘a uniform’ and not as a person), “Do you work with the fire department as well?” (yes, she has worked alongside all other emergency services thus far except for Mountain rescue or Coastal rescue), “What is your favourite part of your job?” (knowing that she’s truly helped someone).


The final session of the day was with Fiona Simpson (2004) who in her College years was invited to spend a day at the offices of Goldman Sachs in London. Her visit to the Trading Floor made quite an impact. “It was busy, it was loud, people were shouting at each other, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow!’ This looks exciting,” she told the girls. She studied Maths and Economics at the University of Edinburgh and the world of finance was a natural progression, working at Morgan Stanley, before moving to hedge fund Balyasny Asset Management and then on to Wellington.

Fiona is now a portfolio manager at Wellington Management, one of the world’s largest asset managers. “I wanted to speak to the girls because when I was younger, Finance did not come up as a natural career choice for women.” The girls were bursting with questions about pathways into Finance, advice Fiona might have for them and general questions about choosing universities.

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