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This week’s Inspiring Futures Careers Conference saw all LVI (Year 12) pupils off-timetable for the morning to gain further insight into our panel discussion topic: 'The World of Work'.

The morning began in the theatre with the smartly-suited LVI asking questions covering diverse topics including structured and purposeful vs opportunistic pathways into careers, challenges for women in the workplace and the most valuable skills in your current career. This year’s guest speakers represented a wide range of sectors from Wiltshire Police intelligence and development, journalism and politics, creativity and entrepreneurship, to women in innovation, and also included local visitors and alumnae; further details are available here.

More in-depth discussion followed as we broke out into smaller networking groups hosted in the library, and over a special lunch in Top Hall put on by Mrs Thomas, and our wonderful Catering Team. The LVI reflected afterwards on their enjoyment of the personal insight of the networking sessions and how valuable they found it to hear directly from successful, experienced adults.

Anna, Hannah, Juliette, Judy and Leah share their insights after their discussions with three of our guests - Lucy Fisher, Amy Kent and Sonja Leith.

Lucy Fisher

'It was an immense pleasure to get the opportunity to talk to such a fascinating woman. From sharing her experiences at Calne, to university and then her career, nothing failed to spark an interest. She is a political journalist and so has great insight into the current politics and has led a fascinating life, from sitting in on Brexit talks to travelling and reporting in Afghanistan. One of the most important things I took away from talking to her was to follow your interests and to remain flexible and open-minded as things don't always work out as you anticipate! Her passion for her work was evident and it really showed just how important it is to go into a field of work which you will enjoy, something she stressed that was important.'

By Anna

'As a politics student and someone interested in international relations, I found Lucy's outlook on current political situations such as 'partygate' captivating. It is inspiring to see such a friendly, strong and successful woman reach the top level within her profession. I also learnt from her the importance of loving your job; you spend so much of your life working that you need to want to get up to go to work in the morning. You must also enjoy the interactions with the people you share your work time with. Her journey into journalism re-iterated this; she realised that she likes being on the front benches of conferences and likes the constant state of learning new things. Therefore, quickly-developing political situations were a perfect fit. I took this lesson to heart as it is easy to feel overwhelmed with choices of degrees at university, and the pressure to know your future career at such a young age. However, if I follow the subjects and hobbies that flip a switch for me, I now know that I will find my way to a career I enjoy.'

By Hannah


Amy Kent

'Amy Kent is the owner of Amy Kent bespoke rugs. Mrs Kent studied Art here at St Mary's, before going on to study History of Art at the University of East Anglia. In the breakout session she spoke about how to be successful in a creative company. Mrs Kent started her business at the age of 27 in 2005. She was initially an interior designer, while simultaneously building up connections. She expressed the importance and significance of networking and how we can use it to our advantage. Eventually, she realised there was a gap in the market for high quality, bespoke rugs, and so started her own company providing them.

She talked through the process of creating the rugs, from the rug makers in India to the finished look in clients’ homes. She prides herself on the sustainability of her brand by using ethically sourced suppliers and providing jobs in India. She also ensures that her employees’ children in India are able to attend school in order to give back to the community.

Mrs Kent has designed and provided rugs for British embassies, such as the British embassy in Bangkok. She tried to simplify the complicated process of designing the pattern for her rugs by explaining how she is often inspired by an image and then uses photoshop to create a rug out of the print. All her rugs are hand-woven, and she works closely with clients and collaborates with them to ensure that the customer is satisfied with the final product.

She left us with a crucial message to not be afraid to start our own businesses, and to be brave and bold and truly follow what we love to do.'

By Juliette


Sonja Leith

'Sonja Leith is the Head of the Improvement and Change Department at Wiltshire Police. It was interesting to see how she got to her career and the journey she went on to get the job. It was very informative to see an actual example of someone whose career didn’t exist when they were younger, and see that times are truly changing for the better in terms of job opportunities. Interestingly, it also helped us to realise that we don’t need to automatically know what we want to do - as she spent roughly 10 years working in different environments, including a cheese shop for two years. We learnt a valuable lesson from her about how every work experience is a useful learning opportunity to develop skills and no time is wasted because you learn through each experience. It was very enlightening to have our breakout sessions with her, further explore her policing role and see how she manages to uphold a healthy work-life balance.'

By Judy and Leah