What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think back to your years at The Mount?
I came to The Mount for College from a large state school just outside of York. At first the environment at The Mount was completely alien to me. An all-girls Quaker school couldn’t have been further from what I was used to, but I loved it. It was a strange adjustment at first, especially the terminology, “Morning Meeting” instead of “assembly” and “Choc Lunch” instead of “break”, but what amazed me the most was how quickly it started to feel like home.
What is your fondest memory of The Mount?
My fondest memory of The Mount has to be the College I Pantomime. Other than Games in the Dark, this was my first major exposure to wacky Mountie traditions and I couldn’t believe we were actually given free creative direction to put together a Christmas panto for the whole school. Our Year’s pantomime was based around the Woman-in-Black stealing Cinderella’s shoe and all kinds of fictional characters helping to get it back. Maddie and I did a dance half way through to Classic by MKTO and we still remember the steps to this day. Funnily enough, my career in the theatre started and ended with the College I panto, but it is something I will probably fondly tell my grandkids about some day.
How important an influence has the Quaker ethos been to you?
I think the Quaker ethos has been more influential in my life than I’d realised. It has helped me always to see the best in people which, as I have started to move into management roles, has allowed me to approach my team with compassion and empathy and offer support wherever I can.
It has also taught me to be reflective which has been so useful to me as I’ve started my career, instead of charging into a problem I instead take a step back and reflect on my options before forming opinions or coming to conclusions.
Finally I think in some of twist of fate it has drawn me to a company that shares very similar values, a company that puts its patients first, a company that makes sure very single one of its employees feels valued.
Through your years at university, did you feel conscious of any influences from your time at The Mount that helped you through your studies?
This question made me smile whilst reading it as one very particular teacher comes to mind, and anyone who has had the pleasure of A-Level Chemistry with Mrs Perks will know exactly what I’m referring too. As I said, I came to The Mount for College and, with being a little nervous at first, sat right in the back corner of Mrs Perks’ classroom and tried to stay quiet and out of the way. This of course doesn’t work so well when you have a class of seven people.
So the first lesson we had we been told to forget everything we learnt at GCSEs as A-Level Chemistry was entirely more complex than that, which sent me into quite a tailspin. I went on to spend almost a year and half of my Chemistry A-Level in what can only be described as a confused, overwhelming panic, and the one thing I remember so vividly was that, at the end of each lesson Mrs Perks would tell us to simply, “Let it sit”. At the time this seemed like crazy advice as the final exams were fast approaching and I still had no idea what was going on. However, of course, she was right and it is advice that has stayed with me ever since. Eventually it did start to filter in and make sense. It is something I applied all the way through university and in my career. If I’m ever feeling overwhelmed and something isn’t making sense I get up for a while, walk away and, “Just let it sit”. 9 times out of 10, I come back to the problem with a much clearer mind and a forward path.
Describe a moment in your career thus far which you feel was connected to your Mount education?
I think the time that has most reflected on my Mount education is the last 8 months I have spent as a member of the AstraZeneca vaccine supply team. During this time, the team at AZ have supplied 2.5 billion doses of vaccine to mainly low and middle income countries. This of course did not come without its challenges. Being part of the supply team was an incredibly intense and fast paced environment. To succeed and deliver supply to patients, I needed to ensure I was resilient and focused on the end goal of doing the right thing, which are two characteristics I developed at The Mount.
Coming to The Mount, I initially struggled with the jump from GCSE to A-Levels. My AS grades were much lower than I’d hoped for and I wasn’t sure how to pick myself up and dust myself off. The environment at The Mount, however, was the perfect setting for me to do just that. There was so much support and encouragement. Just because I’d hit a hurdle, didn’t mean I was down and out. This developed in me a positive, resilient attitude that helped me overcome the numerous challenges encountered as part of the vaccine supply chain. The motivation always being that at the end of the day I was making a difference and, regardless of the challenges we faced, we were doing the right thing and getting our vaccine to patients that needed it.
How and how often do you keep in touch with others from your school cohort?
I am still fortunate enough to be able to catch up with the girls from my year quite regularly. We still send each other birthday cards and always meet up for dinner when we can. Whenever we are able to catch up we reminisce on our time at The Mount and all the happy memories we shared there. I was lucky enough to meet some friends for life at The Mount, girls who I know will always be there for me with a cup of tea and an inside joke or two.
Looking ahead, what are your hopes for the future?
My hopes for the future are that, through my work in the pharmaceutical industry I can really make a difference. I want to be able to advocate for equitable healthcare and be a driver in removing the barriers to healthcare that we see today. I would like to remain part of an organisation that holds itself accountable for doing the right thing and continues to uphold their ability to make a real difference to people’s lives.
In addition to this I would also like to go on to be a great leader within my organisation. I have had the fortune of being exposed to some incredibly strong and talented women who have been kind enough to mentor me and I want to be able to pay that forward someday.