Samantha Cameron goes ‘career speed dating’ with Essex girls

National Inspiring Women campaignThe Basildon Upper Academy is the first school in the UK to host an event as part the national Inspiring Women campaign. The campaign, run by the Education and Employment Taskforce, aims to get 15,000 women volunteering to give just ‘one hour a year’ and go into a school or college, near where they live or work, to collectively chat with 250,000 young women about their career and experiences in life.

The “career speed dating” event involved 100 girls and 10 highly successful women including Miriam González Durántez, Partner at Dechert LLP, and Samantha Cameron, Creative Consultant at Smythson. The ten women were:

Dr Margaret Aderin-Pocok MBE, Space Scientist
Christiane Amanpour, Chief International Correspondent, CNN
Clare Balding, Presenter, Writer & Broadcaster
Gail Bojarski, General Manager, Benefit Cosmetics
Samantha Cameron, Creative Consultant, Smythson
Miriam González Durántez, Partner, Dechert LLP
Mandy Hickson, former Royal Air Force fast jet pilot
Dame Tessa Jowell DBE, Politician
Chrissie Rucker, Founder, The White Company
Jennifer Taylor, Chief Operating Officer EMEA, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Along the “career speed dating event” the charity which administers the scheme, the Education and Employers Taskforce, organised a unique careers fair at the school with 175 women doing diverse jobs from an electrician to a shadow minister, from a lawyer to an occupational therapist, from bankers to a plastic surgeon.

Organisations being represented include; Aston Martin, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, BSkyB, CBI, Crossrail, Little Miss Geek, National Trust, NHS, Premier League, Royal Air Force, Sainsbury’s, the Medical Women’s Foundation and the University of Cambridge.

Basildon Upper Academy signed up to Inspiring the Future in 2013, wanting women from all backgrounds to visit and help inspire their female students and give them insights into different career options. The Upper Academy, which is currently in special measures, has recently been inspected by Ofsted. The Ofsted report is due to be published imminently.

Campaign supporter and Basildon career speed dater Miriam González Durántez, Partner at Derchert LLP said: “Girls need to feel free to make their own choices. The main purpose of the Inspiring Women campaign is to reassure them that there are many female role models out there willing to help and that any option they take in life is valid if it is what they really want”.

Samantha Cameron, Creative Consultant at Smythson and Basildon career speed dater said: “Female role models are essential to giving young girls the motivation and confidence to follow their aspirations. Volunteering at a school for Inspiring the Future is a great way of ensuring dynamic, ambitious girls, like the ones I met today, are given every chance to think about their future and live up to their potential.”

The Director of the Basildon Upper Academy Sixth Form, Michael McCall said: “The Basildon Academy signed up to Inspiring the Future in 2013 because we wanted different professionals to visit and help inspire our students and give them an insights into different careers. We explained that we were an Upper Academy with around 750 students, working hard with all in our school community to raise aspirations for our young people.

“Inspiring Women has given the school an opportunity to further support our female students’ career advice and guidance, the school is constantly looking for ways to develop students’ experience and knowledge, in addition, the profile of the event supports the Academy ethos of Aspire, Believe, Achieve.”

“The world of work is changing rapidly and young people in the UK need to be prepared for future opportunities. We can all help to ensure they develop the right skills,” said Alex Wilmot-Sitwell, President, EMEA at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “Educating the next generation is crucial for a strong economy and for successful communities. We are delighted to partner with Inspiring the Future and would encourage others to get involved. The charity’s system is user-friendly; each personal commitment can be for as little as one hour, once a year and we know that the programme makes an impact.”


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