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Alumni Film Short Careers Talks for Year 9

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  • Jamie Laundon.jpg
  • Stefan Kukula.jpg
  • Tom Reynolds.jpg
  • Adam Razak.jpg
  • Saima Hanif.jpg
  • Suve Banerjee.jpg
  • Chris Newton.jpg
  • Ian Saunders.jpg

Boys in Year 9 made the most of an interesting and informative set of careers talks delivered by alumni via video. The event was held live on Zoom to mimic what would, in other years, have been a massed gathering of the year group in the Great Hall. Seven Old Boys and an Old Girl had pre-recorded short presentations, talking about their career, the kind of roles available and routes into their lines of work.

First, Jamie Laundon (Class of 1998) spoke about being a Broadcast Engineer at the BBC. His involvement with clubs helped to set him on this path: he wrote software and enjoyed problem solving in IT club guided by Mr Walker, helped in the sound and lighting crew on school productions with Mr Humphrey, and later was involved with student radio during his Electronic Engineering degree at Nottingham University. Now he collaborates with creative teams to deliver projects for the BBC, working with talented producers, presenters and artists as well as engineers and project managers. He said that his greatest achievement to date was the redesign of radio studios in Broadcasting House, and that the biggest challenge of his job comes in taking people out of their comfort zone.

Stefan Kukula (Class of 1983) shared his path to becoming a Materials Engineer, from A Levels to a PhD, and gave a brief overview of his career. This included working at a nuclear engineering company and six years in Japan with a steel company, where he helped to develop low-cost lower limb prosthetics for mine victims on the Vietnam border: a personal career highlight. He is currently Chief Executive of the corporate membership body EEMUS (The Engineering Equipment and Materials Users Association). Stefan emphasised that engineering is a very broad field and said that flexibility and intellectual curiosity have been key factors in his working life. Looking back, he said he doesn’t have regrets as everything was an experience: ‘They all change you and you learn from them.’

Tom Reynolds (Class of 2010), who now works in the restructuring department at Lazard, gave a talk about his career in Investment Banking. After studying Russian at Bristol University, he moved to RBS where he took his ACA Accountancy qualification. He talked about a typical day, which he described as intense but at the same time fun and challenging, and touched on the difficulties of lockdown. He said that his job requires doggedness, intellectual curiosity and an interest in companies and sectors and what makes them work. He also recommended a positive mindset, optimism and being a ‘people person’. He added that Bolton School gave him an excellent grounding and helped him to become a well-rounded person, which has paid dividends.

A medical perspective was provided by Adam Razak (Class of 2002). Now a Neurosurgical Registrar at Salford Royal Hospital, Adam trained at Sheffield University from 2002 to 2007, followed by on the job training and private study to join the Royal College of Surgeons and become a Fellow in Neurosurgery. He admitted that the private study aspect is challenging, as it didn’t leave him with a lot of free time. He talked about the realities of the job: needing concentration and alertness, despite long days and sometimes feeling tired. However, he added that seeing patients well and satisfied with their care makes it all worthwhile. He described medicine, and particularly neurosurgery, as a dynamic, rapidly-changing environment where every day is different.

Barrister and Old Girl Saima Hanif (Class of 1998) spoke about the two main parts of her job: oral advocacy, in court representing clients, and advisory work, giving clients her legal opinion on a matter. She described the latter as similar to essay writing: researching sources and looking at facts, drafting an opinion and reaching a conclusion. She also talked about how trials differ from the glamorised version seen in courtroom dramas on TV. Saima mentioned that barristers are self-employed and discussed the benefits of managing her own diary, but also the need for discipline and self-motivation. She said, ‘You’re at a fantastic stage in your lives. The world is open to you. Embrace opportunities and, when thinking about your career, find something you love and it won’t feel like a chore, it will feel like a passion.’

Finally, Suve Banerjee (Class of 1999) spoke briefly about his work as a compliance lawyer. He talked about changing his plans from medicine to law and said that taking calculated risks with his career was the best thing he could have done. He also advised boys to make the most of clubs and societies to help them become more well-rounded and interesting people. He said, ‘Bolton School has amazing opportunities to try new things and develop skills but you have to take advantage of those.’

All of the speakers offered advice on how to access their careers, such as trying work experience to find out about what the job involves before going for it and to give them an edge on their CV.

After watching all six videos, the boys were invited to watch a further two alumni talks: Chris Newton (Class of 2009) spoke about being a Software Engineer while Ian Saunders (Class of 2011) talked about his work as a Civil Engineer. The year group was also encouraged to prepare questions for a further talk from Suve, who returned via Zoom the next morning to speak to boys live.

This careers event gave Year 9 plenty of options to consider and a wealth of excellent advice on how to access different careers.

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