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News > Foundation News > OS impart invaluable life and career advice to our Class of 2021

OS impart invaluable life and career advice to our Class of 2021

Life hacks for positive effects on personal, social and professional life beyond the campus shared by diverse group of Old Stortfordians

Outstanding OS contribution to U6th Life Hacks Week.

Life beyond the College campus was front of mind for our Upper 6th Class of 2021 as they completed an extra special week of activities expertly organised by Head of Sixth Form Katie Banks.  OS President Chris Forster (MJH,SuH, 82-90) started the week with extolling the value of the networking and mentoring opportunities that lie within our vastly experienced alumni community. Numerous OS led sessions across the week shared ‘Life Hacks’ of how to budget effectively at University, how to survive away from home for the first time, how to get the most out of University life and how to take the first steps into a rewarding career to name but a few. Panel and individually presented sessions which saw invaluable input from a diverse range of Old Stortfordians made for a great variety of learning opportunities throughout the week.

We are very grateful to OS Aaron Trehan(PP,NH,SuH,04-18), Aastha Singh (WH,YH,07-16), Ben Han Li (RPH,16-18), Emily Lynch (WH,BH,06-15) and Inka Pearson (BH,14-16) for taking part in panel discussions sharing the realities of all aspects of life at Uni.










OS Ross McDermott (GH,AH,89-96) visited the campus to deliver two vastly different sessions. Ross enjoyed a hugely successful career within the Police which saw him become an expert in hostage & crisis negotiation, a counter terrorism lead and the lead officer on complex and serious investigation. He moved to the private sector in 2017 where he has enjoyed success in managing core elements of risk, resilience, customer service & focus as well as holistic corporate security measures. He balances this alongside his own Consultancy work specialising in building and enhancing critical communication and decision making skills within organisations within times of pressure.


Ross’ first session concentrated on the notion of the vast importance of communication skills, in particular the great value of critical listening. He challenged the notion of initial perceptions of others, the perceptions we hold of ourselves. He vividly explained that the highest percentage of communications in life remain non-verbal and our actions, reactions and empathetic building of relations can be vital to our own success and of that of those around us. Interactive discussions and the sharing of clear life examples of the value and power of well-considered communications made for a hugely useful session. All pupils and staff left the room with positive learnings of how to more consciously communicate in all aspects of our lives to the most positive effect for ourselves and those around us.

Ross returned the following day to share personal safety advice for University life, vividly bringing potential issues to life, Ross worked through a number of engaging scenarios that could see a risk to safety in future University student/adult life. In echo of the conscious communication messages from his initial session, conscious planning was a key theme within the personal safety scenarios. There was no removal of the fun elements of Uni life but more so the notion of giving conscious thought to activities or events such as considering how travel was undertaken at different times of the day, where valuables were stored or carried throughout a day and giving thought to having a contingency plan in place to make sure both individuals and their property can be kept safe should, as is often the case, original plans change during the course of a day. The overwhelming message was to be conscious in decision making, assess any potential sources of harm but always to put personal safety above that of possessions and to walk away from threats to a place of safety rather than towards it.

Ross received resounding votes of thanks from his U6th Audience and it was a great pleasure to be able to help him round off his visit with a relaxed catch up over a cuppa in the glorious garden of Garry (Head of Modern Languages & AH Housemaster, 73-13) & Beverley Hudson (Staff, 86-96). Ross was the last AH Head of House before it closed as a boy’s house in 1996 so there is great affection held for each other between Garry, Beverley and Ross. Many memories of AH were shared as were updates as to where life had taken Ross’ contemporaries, many of whom he keeps in contact with. It was a lovely way to end a hugely positive couple of days on campus for Ross.

OS Paula Humphry (nee Quinton-Jones) (YH, 92-94), VP and EMEA Head of Candidate Engagement at J.P. Morgan also made two visits to the campus to share her extensive expertise around maximising personal employability by carefully building a personal brand and actively working towards career fulfilling goals whilst at University, rather than waiting until students leave to commence such activities. Paula painted a vivid picture of the importance of making the most of time at University, not just to secure a degree but also to start taking decisive steps towards securing a career.

To put things in perspective, Paula enlightened her audience that active recruitment for graduate roles at J. P. Morgan is actually very limited as the majority of roles are filled following the successful completion of summer internship placements during degree courses. To focus minds, Paul described that for the 500 internships J.P. Morgan offer, they receive 93000 applications. Her session provided great insight into how her U6th audience could help to make themselves one of the 500 successful candidates rather than the 92500 unsuccessful ones!

Paula was joined by Nena Nurbhai (MJH,BH,12-19) who is completing the second year of her BASc Degree majoring in Economics, Maths and Computer Science at UCL. Nena personifies Paula’s ethos of taking first career steps whilst at University as she has already undertaken a spring internship at Citi and is an Investment Banking and Asset Management Candidate at SEO London so was able to speak to first hand about her very recent experiences.

In a very poignant and timely way OS Jamie Robinson (GH,AH,75-80) spoke about the skills to thrive and survive in times of change. A topic that couldn’t be more relevant to us all today. A prestigious career spanning both the IT and Finance Industry has led Jamie to specialise professionally in Change Management and he was able to share his insight with a year group that has already experienced the need to navigate unexpected events in times of great educational importance to them.   

A move to University covers all aspects of life experiences and we were very privileged to welcome OS Carys Page (NH,BH, 06-14) to speak about many issues surrounding consent and keeping yourself and those you care for safe at University. Carys is vastly experienced in sharing detailed information to student audiences in her role as a Project Officer at Loughborough University and in 2017 was named within the Future 100 list compiled by international youth news network, The Tab. The list, described as ‘the top 100 women to watch in 2017’, highlights women at UK universities who are set to achieve incredible things. Over 215,000 votes were submitted by fellow students.

At that time Carys was working as Consent Workshop Co-ordinator at Loughborough Students’ Union (LSU) and came 57th in the list for implementing over 40 consent workshops across campus.  She won three Students’ Union awards during that year: Welfare and Diversity Campaign of the Year for Consent Week, Welfare and Diversity Committee Member of the Year and Welfare and Diversity Team of the Year for Women’s Network, which she chaired for one year. With such extensive experience Carys spoke eloquently and unreservedly about the issue of consent and the importance to everyone to be personally aware and responsible for providing and securing consent in all aspects of their future sexual activity. She also enlightened on the need for all of society to challenge and expelling the notions of rape culture and victim blaming.

We are incredibly privileged to be able to welcome back Old Stortfordians who are able to share such high calibre expertise with our current pupils and we are exceedingly grateful to all the OS who gave up their precious free time to participate in the U6th Life Hacks week.

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