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A bright future: GSAL’s annual careers conference casts a spotlight on potential careers for Leeds students

Tuesday 18 April 2023

GSAL hosted its annual Futures Conference recently, inspiring students with engaging presentations, panel discussions and hands-on workshops from the school’s alumni in fields ranging from medicine to marketing.

Students made four choices from a programme of sector-specific and skills-based presentations, all intended to broaden their horizons and give them real-world insights into the world of work. Speakers, who were all from the school’s alumni and parent communities, included Deputy Chief Executive and Second Permanent Secretary of HMRC, Angela MacDonald (OG88), barrister Pankaj Madan (OL92), Deputy Medical Director at Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, Dr Sarah Sherliker (OG96) and artistic director William Galinsky (OL90). Some students even had the chance to get involved in a high-stakes and hands-on trading game organised by Paul Anderson (OL91), Global Head, Listed Derivatives and Clearing at Deutsche Bank.

The highlight of the day for many came from Simon Gillis (OL00), COO of Academy Award, Emmy and BAFTA-winning television and film production house, See Saw Films. Simon, who trained as a solicitor and previously worked as a senior lawyer for Disney, gripped students with the tale of his “squiggle rather than a straight line” career and the inspirational careers that await them in the film and television sector. Faisal Galaria (OL92), former CEO of Blippar, provided further encouragement, telling students “it doesn’t matter where you’re coming from, it’s where you’re going” and urged the young people in attendance to “leave everything on the track” – an analogy referring back to his days as a successful schoolboy runner.

Students from one of GSAL’s partner schools, Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School joined the event in-person, and content was recorded to share with GSAL’s partner schools across the city.

“We’re committed to having a positive impact on young people’s lives in Leeds beyond our school gates and sharing the first-hand experiences of our alumni. We’re delighted that students from Cardinal Heenan were able to be with us” said Sue Woodroofe, Principal at GSAL. “We know that many more will benefit from the wisdom and advice shared via the recordings for some time to come.”

Kieran Gaffey, careers coordinator at Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School, Leeds, said “Our students fully enjoyed the event at GSAL learning about potential future careers from inspirational speakers. Many thanks for the invite and warm welcome from GSAL.”

Students were also effusive in their feedback. “I found the sessions really eye-opening and interesting and finding out about careers that were completely new to me,” said Ellie, year 12 student.

After this dose of inspiration, one thing is certain: a bright future awaits!

Students in years 10 and 12 at GSAL attend the annual Futures Conference
Simon Gillis (OL00), COO, See Saw Films

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