In the morning, the Junior School welcomed Katherine Jackson (2006) and her husband, Matthew Jackson Smith, also known as ‘The Yorkshire Vet’. for a fascinating chat. The girls were full of questions about being a vet and looking after animals. At the end of the session, Miss Capper had to rescue Matthew from a swarm of inquisitive pupils who were still bursting with questions.
Katherine spoke with Senior girls during Choc Lunch about her career as Head of Legal for SEFE, one of the UK’s leading energy companies, which was once part of Gazprom. Leading a team of in-house lawyers and paralegals, Katherine said that most of her job entails advising the CEO and upper management on legal issues. She talked about the skills and traits needed to be a good lawyer, and her path into the legal sector. Katherine read History at Edinburgh, which taught her to look at, and present, evidence. After this she completed a Law conversion course and worked in different disciplines of law.
Katherine talked about her time at The Mount and shared that her father passed shortly before her GCSE’s. She credited the pastoral support she had from The Mount, and her then teacher Sally Hebron, with being a significant influence on her resilience to continue with her studies. “My father loved everything about The Mount and really believed in me. That also gave me the confidence and resilience I needed,” said Katherine.
In her job, Katherine holds a position of trust within her organisation. People see her as being an objective person they can trust. She also shared amusing stories such as the strangest requests she’d dealt with (‘How would one go about exhuming a body?’ was one. ‘Why do you ask?’ I said. They had suspicions about the death of a family member who was already interred, so I advised them to contact the police), the Gazprom boardroom’s bulletproof windows, and being fascinated, as a teenager, by television courtroom dramas and films. Vakare was delighted to learn that Katherine was familiar with the film, Legally Blonde. She told the girls that if they wanted to work in the legal sector, they could pursue their interests at university and, with their qualifications, investigate routes into the legal sector. “Follow your interests,” she told the girls. “If you work hard, you will do well.”
Alison Brown (1975) is freshly retired from a career in the legal sector as a solicitor in family law and criminal law, and as an Advocate of the Royal Court Jersey, where she moved in 2004. She shared with the girls her route into the legal sector, having read all Maths, Further Maths and Physics for A-Levels. She told them about becoming an Advocate, which she achieved at the age of 60, the oldest-ever woman to do so. She shared stories about her strangest cases and most memorable cases (a sad criminal case about a rabbit with very long incisors). And she clarified for the girls the differences between the burden of proof in criminal cases and in civil cases.
Sue Sljvic (1977) trained as a landscape architect. Her talk touched on various careers in the environmental sector. She has worked all over the world, with many different professionals in many areas of specialism, such as drilling engineers, lepidopterists, and so on. Sue became an entrepreneur when she partnered with a business associate to form RSK. When the company began, it was the two founders, Sue and her business partner. The company has now grown to 6,000. Sue talked with girls about the various fields of study which can lead to a career in the environmental sector. She also encouraged girls to look at different ways of becoming qualified, such as degree apprenticeships. Many careers in this sector need more women. “There are more women than ever before, but we still need many more,” she told the girls.
One of the lovely advantages of working in landscape architecture and environmental engineering is being able to drive around the countryside and point out features, such as woodlands and scapes and say, “I did that“. Solving problems for clients brings added satisfaction by creating four-dimensional solutions (3-dimensions plus seasonal changes with flora and fauna). Sue said she also enjoyed working on the country’s first-ever offshore windfarm.
Pictured: Sally Hebron, Alison Brown, Sue Sljvic, Katherine Jackson
The memorial plaque by the magnolia that was planted in Katherine and Elizabeth’s father’s memory.
It was a pleasure to welcome back so many Old Scholars for Careers Week, whether in person or online.
Each presentation was different, each presentation style unique and every story was truly individual and personal. If common threads must be drawn, they would show that every Old Scholar encouraged the girls to be guided by her interests whether choosing subjects for GCSE, A-Level or even degree-level studies. “When you have a passion for your subject, you will always enjoy it,” as Rachel Armstrong had said.
Another common thread could best be described as Qui fidelis est in parvo: being faithful in small things invariably leads to faithfulness in great things, in many things. This applies as much in one’s personal life as it does in one’s career, in collaborating with colleagues or fraternising with friends.
We remain grateful to our Old Scholars for their time, thoughtfulness and insights. Thank you for inspiring our current pupils to be excited about career prospects and for helping to expand their horizons.