Last Friday evening, I shared a platform at HMC’s Academic Deputies conference, speaking about advice to school leavers. My brief was to talk about transition to university, and the specific skills needed, but the speaker before me, Margaret McDonald, a global retail CEO, was talking about what school leavers need for work. I think I had imagined she might focus on digital literacy, money sense, that kind of thing, but in fact she gave a presentation so apt, so clear and so spot on, that instead of writing about what I said (which most readers will have heard before) I thought this week that I would share her ideas. Her 10 top tips. So here they are.
1. Have a direction, not a plan. Too many students think they have to have their life mapped out in advance. Not only do most not have to, but it can be over-restrictive if you do. And what do you do if it goes wrong?
2. Learning is continuous. Bill Gates reads fifty books a year.
3. Ask if you don’t understand (nobody minds).
4. It’s ok to make mistakes. Learn to look back regularly and face up to them.
5. Be proud, but be humble too.
6. Know who to go to. Networking is a good skill. And say thank you. Every time.
7. Listen if you want to learn, and understand non-verbal communication too.
8. Stay cool in a crisis.
9. Keep your sense of humour.
10. Love what you do.
Sitting listening to Margaret, and some of her stories of good and less good graduate entrants and employees, made me reflect on what we do in school to help boys learn from mistakes, find a direction, cope with crises (it’s OK to be not OK). Plenty, I think. Above all, what we do and must continue to do to keep the boys proud, but humble too.
So thank you to Margaret, whose two daughters are at a well-known and superb girls’ school, and whom I hope we can invite to Whitgift to give her insights in person.