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Inspiration is all around us — in newspapers, magazines, on our smartphones and tablets. When it comes to defining who we are and what we stand for, friends, family and colleagues are a good starting point. All three present plenty of opportunities to review and refine our behaviour, hopefully with the aim of becoming the best version of ourselves. Beyond our family and friends, we look at films, magazines, public life, and colleagues to find people on whom we can model ourselves and who can inspire us.
At the GDST we are incredibly lucky to have 60, alumnae, many of whom are in senior positions, who can be role models for our pupils, and many of whom reach out a helping hand in work experience or mentoring for our young graduates starting their careers.
We are delighted that so many of our alumnae give so generously of their time to speak to their successors — and particularly so when they are working in unusual or highly sought after careers. I was however very privileged to work with Marjorie Scardino who at the time was my boss and was the first female chief executive of a FTSE company, Pearson plc. Having someone at the very top of the company, confidently occupying the role of chief executive officer, I think gave confidence to women throughout the organisation.
Seeing a woman above them in the organisation does a huge amount to dispel those doubts and instil confidence. Of course sometimes our role models of either gender get things wrong, or disappoint us, but this is also a useful reminder especially to girls that no one is perfect, and that careers can survive both failure and error.
In schools, all subjects provide opportunities to source role models, from literary heroes and heroines to scientific pioneers. They might seem dusty when compared with the latest young female celebrity but positioning Ada Lovelacethe first female computer scientist, as a modern day woman in tech, quickly brings the past back to life. When it comes to inspiring young people about what they can achieve for themselves, honesty about ones triumphs and failures is invariably the best policy. Poised on the brink of their brilliant careers, these future leaders will be learning a range of leadership skills including negotiation, problem solving and financial management — vital additions to the challenging academic curriculum our schools provide.
I have no doubt I will find them equally inspiring. Women in Leadership. Former managing director of Penguin, Helen Fraser, discusses which women inspired her to achieve. Ada Lovelace was the first female computer scientist. Helen Fraser.
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Need a Role Model? Meet 3 inspiring Women Using Tech To Transform India