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GSAL Futures Conference 2022 opens new horizons

Tuesday 29 March 2022

Alumni from all over the world gathered for the second GSAL Futures Conference on Friday 25 March at The Grammar School at Leeds.

The conference involved more than 50 alumni working in a cross section of different professions, careers and industries. They met GSAL students either in person at the school or via a video link from the UK or abroad.

Students took part in stimulating workshops, informative and engaging talks and interesting panel discussions. It was open to Years 10 and 12 along with students in GSAL’s partner schools.

The opening keynote talk was delivered by Anna Stephenson (OG82), co-founder of Inflection Point Intelligence, a global financial services education company.

She said: “One problem that students can have is a narrow perspective on the working world. Perhaps they only really know about what their parents or relatives do, or they may have some (often inaccurate) ideas from films or TV shows.

“Events like the GSAL Futures Conference can have a powerful effect by exposing the students to a large variety of real people and experiences and by presenting an idea of the range of jobs out there. They can also see that these jobs are achievable by people who went to the same school and come from a similar background. And they can get an appreciation for the different routes people take in their working lives – “success” has a myriad of definitions and is highly personal.”

The inspiring closing keynote talk was delivered by Minhaz Abedin (GSAL16), CEO of Future Talent, a royal charity that supports gifted young musicians from low-income backgrounds. Minhaz talked about the importance of treating everyone you meet as equals, being curious and interested in others and identifying and redefining your true purpose.

The aim of GSAL Futures Conference: Dare to Do Something Different was to provide students with ideas and information about the many varied career opportunities available to them. While some careers were familiar, the intention was to inspire students to explore new pathways.

The event kicked off with a conference breakfast at the school before the keynote speech. Students then chose from a wide range of different panel sessions and skills workshops throughout the day.

There was a conference lunch served in the Sixth Form café and an outdoor team building activity where the students worked together on challenges with other members of their form.

Alumni at this month’s event included Peter Hutton (OL84), from the social media company, Meta, who virtually joined the conference from his base in California; Michelle Brostoff (OG98), a senior manager with the Bank of England, Guy Bradley (OL83) Chairman of Swire Pacific, who joined us remotely from Hong Kong, Duncan Fisher (OL86), vice president and general manager of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group and Olivia Houlihan (OG06) from NHS England.

The first Futures Conference in July last year was a virtual event attended by more than 30 alumni of Leeds Grammar School, Leeds Girls’ High School and GSAL.

Image: Anna Stephenson (OG82), opening keynote speaker.

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