The latest instalment of Urban Synergy’s popular Role Model Seminars took place earlier this month but this time, the event marks a first for Urban Synergy. The seminar featured an impressive line up of the first all-female role model panel at Sydenham Girls School, South London.
Hosted by MTV’s uber-cool Darae Palmer, over 200 girls from Years 9 and 10 enthusiastically questioned speakers on what drove them to succeed, their setbacks and top tips on how to get to the top. Interest among the students was extremely high as the panel delivered their own unique perspective of being successful, female professionals.
The panel consisted of Dawn Goring MBE who has the distinction of holding the administrative and operational reins at No 10 Downing Street, clinical psychologist Dr Monica Thompson, Debbie Webster, Justice of the Peace, Donna Herdsman, Executive Partner at IBM, Anu Omideyi, barrister, Yvette Sweeney, a senior pharmacist and PR director, Claudia McKenzie.
Donna Herdsman recalled her experiences of not accepting what a school career advisor told her she should become – a secretary. Determined to prove teachers and her careers advisor wrong about her academic abilities, she went on to pursue higher education and is now one of only 16 EPs at IBM globally. Many of the panellists such as Anu Omideyi reminded students that because education is one of the best gateways to success, they shouldn’t waste the opportunity to focus on it while in school, before the realities of adult life set in.
Shakira Maclaughlan (21) attending Southbank University also sat in the audience amongst the girls. She said: “It was very inspiring. It brought back memories and made me realise how far I’ve come and where I can be. The workshops were informative and gave me the chance to get up close and personal with some of the rolemodels and visualise that I too can be as successful as them. It has also encouraged me to seriously consider volunteering and ‘giving back’ to the community and helping the youth through mentoring because I too have stories to tell. I would definately recommend [it] to all people of all ages including, primary pupils, parent and carers and college students.”
Clinical psychologist, Dr Thompson told students about her dogged determination, despite challenges, to commit herself to studying what many agree is an academically demanding subject, psychology. But one of the juiciest pieces of advice was delivered by Dawn Goring who reminded the girls that having confidence, displaying the right positive attitude and being able to stand your ground politely and firmly to people who don’t necessarily like you is part and parcel of what it takes to be taken seriously and to command respect in the workplace.
Urban Synergy’s Sue Watson, who organised this unique event said: “An all-female panel is a fantastic way to show the girls that they too can make it to the top of any career ladder they choose. My thanks to the Sylvia Iyeke, whose determination to help the girls succeed is not only admirable, but also worthy of praise. She created a collaborative partnership with Urban Synergy enabling us all to succeed.”