Prendergast Hilly Fields Role Model Seminar

Urban Synergy held a ‘Top Tips to the Top’ Role Model Seminars at all girls’s Prendergast Hilly Fields College 29 June for over 60 students in years 9 and 10.

The inspirational seminar, which consisted of a panel session, followed by an open Q&A and speed mentoring was received enthusiastically by the young students.

The seminar gave the students an opportunity to hear first hand the journey of some of the most enviable career paths. The panelists, were Colin Donaldson, Airline Pilot, British Airways, Andreia Carvalho-N’Djai, Head of Scientific Affairs, Centre for Developmental Neurobiology, King’s College London, Troy Von Scheibner, C4 TV Magician/Entertainer, Charlene Michael-Imobioh, Advanced Legal Editor, at Thomson Reuters and part time singer/songwriter and Sarah-Jayne Crawford, TV Presenter, Actress and DJ, who shared with the students details of their career journeys, insights into their jobs and details of how they overcame any challenges along the way.

After an open Q&A where students put their hands up enthusiastically and asked an array of open and interesting questions to the panel, the event continued with the exhilarating ‘speed mentoring session’. In addition to the top tier career panellists there were role models waiting to participate in the speed mentoring which gave the students the opportunity to hear from more role models from industries including, Finance, Fashion, Consultancy, Construction, NHS, IT, and Retail. This session gave the students the chance to meet each role model on rotation, gain valuable insight to a wide variety of professions, discuss career goals and also hear how they faced and overcame any challenges faced along the way. Each table had two role models to six pupils. After 5 minutes there was a piercing sound of a whistle before role models move to the next table.

The event had an uplifting feel, the pupils were well behaved and fully open and willing to utilise the opportunity to meet and mingle with the role models. There was a nice mixture of fun and attentiveness which indicates that Urban Synergy have struck a chord with the choices of Role models; those involved were approachable, and ‘cool’ unlike what you would expect from a traditional seminar. There was no elderly professor talking ‘at’ you to convince you that without his genius grey matter you are destined for unemployment and a life of poverty. Instead the messages came from grownups that they could respect and admire who were sharing their experiences.

Panel’s ‘Top Tips’

Colin Donaldson
British Airways University Air Squadron
Colin studied at Brunel, He points to an aeroplane that is part of the presentation during his talk and says that he was actually flying that plane to qualify the depth of the achievement. Colin reassures that even in turbulent conditions when the plane circles and isn’t landing or seems shaky, they are being guided at all times in order to take the ‘safest’ options.

Top Tips
If there is something you want don’t be afraid to take chances, or step out and try because doors open all the time. Therefore opportunity will present itself.
“Do what you enjoy, it makes it so much easier.”
“If you are wanting to go somewhere, doors open all the time…keep developing yourself”

Dr Andrea Carvalho-N’Djai
Head of Scientific Affairs, for Developmental Neurology, Kings College, London
Dr Andrea Carvalho-N’Djai explains that she came from humble beginnings. Her family instilled good work ethic in to their family. She was told to work hard at her studies, so that is what she did. She is happy that she listened to them and was able to make them proud. Although she did not know what she wanted to do initially her good work ethics prepared her for the competitive market.

Top Tips
Keep being prepared, by training so that you are a competitive once the opportunity presents itself.

She fires up the female pupils by letting them know that “women do better at studies than men, even at PHD level”

She goes on to empower by saying, “You are strong, Independent women so you can go as far as you choose to”

Troy Von Scheibner
Magician/ Entertainer
Troy, who has appeared on television performing illusions was the heart throb and entertainer min equal measure. He started his talk by coming out into the audience to get a volunteer, (for which he had many). Although he clearly had a much coveted and desirable career in entertainment, Troy was open about the fact that he was fortunate that his dream job came to fruition and explains that in high insight, he should have dedicated more time to his studies initially. He explained it would be wise to have a back up plan and so went to University where he studied graphics so had things worked out differently, he would have pursued a career in advertising.

Top Tip
Dedicate your time to what you enjoy doing, perfect your craft and things will fall in to place.

Charlene Michael – Imobioh
Advanced Legal Editor
Charlene, explains that she always got good grades and that she was very focused with her career path. After studying at Leeds, she moved back to London to study at bar school (she jokes, not the drinking type but Lawyer bar) after which secured work experience back in Leeds working in the courts and with Criminal lawyers. She chose a sensible academic career but she is also passionate about singing, which she was later urged to demonstrate in an impromptu performance.

Top Tip
If you’re not where you want to be, make sure are taking steps to get there. You can be successful at more than one thing don’t limit yourself. I may have wanted to be a singer but I have a back up plan and I made sure I studied.

Sarah Jane- Crawford
TV and Radio Presenter, Actress, Voice Over Artist and DJ
Initially studied a marketing degree, during her university years she made contacts which gave her, her first opportunity at presenting for a show called ‘Shipwrecked’ aired on Channel 4. After working in a few law firms she decided to work part-time to give her the flexibility to go to auditions. She explains that she was focussed, determined and friendly which provided her the opportunities to do craft the career that she has.

Top Tips
Connections are important, she advises to foster relationships, make networks and be lovely to everyone and study your craft.
“Connections are really important….never let people forget you. You have to learn your craft”

Atter a heartfelt thank you from a student to the role models for giving their time, the seminar took closing words from regular Urban Synergy Role Model and WW11 veteran, Neil Flanigan who added, “Have confidence, step forward and be a winner”.