14 Jul

Following the successful World of Work Conference for Y10 students held in April, a Conference specifically positioned for Y12 students took place on July 6.

In previous years, Y10 and Y12 students have attended combined conferences. The decision to split the students was based on feedback received from earlier events and it has been validated by the success of both 2023 Conferences.

The Y12 Conference was attended by some 40 students from three state schools in easy distance of Birkbeck, University of London which kindly volunteered to host the Conference. The schools were The London Academy of Excellence Stratford, Waldegrave School Twickenham and William Perkin School Greenford.


A new format

Once again, the aim of the Conference was to provide guidance and practical advice to students transitioning from education to the workplace, but given the older age group that transition could be immediate or after University; for Y10 remaining in school was an option.

This important differentiator was reflected in each element of the day, namely the sharing of information, participative group exercises, and the opportunity to raise questions with a panel of professionals who could share their career journeys with the students.

Conference coordination was led by Danny Kalman and involved a number of World Traders including Ben Pape, Robert Keller, Paul Williams, Sue Algeo, Kelvin Mills, Mohammed Omar, Tukeer Hussain, Sian Rees, Elisabeth Mainelli and Margarita Erskine. Oana Lazar who assisted with previous Conferences has taken up a new role in Dubai; for which we all wish her well.

The Conference was opened by our Current Master, Michael Shapiro who explained how the Livery has evolved, its connections with the City and its current relevance, highlighting the Livery’s involvement in charity and World Traders specific belief in the importance of Education.

This was followed by an introductory message from Birkbeck College mentioning the range and flexibility of courses they offer.

Both presentations were well received and this set the tone for a successful Conference, well suited to its audience.


A keynote message – and productive workshops

The next item on the Agenda was the Keynote message delivered by Tony Horrocks, a Senior Executive from IBM. Tony proved to be an engaging and involving speaker, charting his career journey through many exciting technological developments in which he had been involved and of which the students proved to have an awareness. The path of technological development led to the current areas of significance which might offer opportunities for Y12 students such as AI (everyone seemed to have heard of ChatGPT) Cyber Security and Quantum Computing.

Tony stressed the importance of Curiosity (remaining relevant) Communication (benefit of working as a team) and Confidence (in what you can achieve).

The presentation was followed by two workshops which operated concurrently with the students being divided into two groups, covering:

  • Cross Cultural Working in a Business Environment, facilitated by Danny Kalman and Elisabeth Mainelli
  • Exploring Career Opportunities, facilitated by Paul Williams and Kelvin Mills (separate smaller sub groups to ensure greater student involvement)

Students were encouraged to participate fully and did so, proving that each workshop was positively received.

Panel discussion

The day then moved on to what proved to be an excellent Panel Discussion chaired by Danny Kalman. The Panel comprised four members with different life experience and career journeys:

  • Tony Horrocks – the keynote speaker and Senior Exec IBM
  • Millicent Tu – Group Head of Investor Relations for Grab Group, S.E. Asia’s top ‘super-app’ after merger with Uber
  • Seiya David – Data Scientist for the Wealth Management Division of JP Morgan
  • Stephen Taylor-Hunt – Senior Manager from the Third Sector/Charity Sector

There were a significant number of relevant questions from the floor with great rapport between the panel and the students. Given time constraints the Panel Discussion ended at 3.30pm but it could have continued which is a compliment to the Chair, the Panel and the Students who participated fully and constructively.

A motivating, insightful day

The conference was closed by Sue Algeo, a World Traders Past Master who delivered a positive, motivating message which was full of wisdom and warmth and the audience caught the tone.

It was then left to Sue to thank Danny for organising the World of Work Conferences over the last three years and to confirm the Paul Williams has kindly agreed to act as Coordinator for next years Conferences. It was positively noted that Danny will continue to be involved but as a team member.

Sue also thanked Birkbeck for their kindness in providing the venue free of charge.

All parties agreed that this was a positive, successful Conference and, the ultimate accolade, the Students did not seem to want to leave!

Sian Rees