An evening with Lord Mervyn Davies

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We celebrated Ada Lovelace Day this year with a fantastic Q&A with Lord Mervyn Davies. 

It was a great chance to get a glimpse into the career of one of the UK’s top business execs and a leading light in the movement to recognise the contribution women make on Corporate Boards.  Lord Davies was eloquent on a number of topics, which was just as well, because as usual with our networking events we were joined by some very smart and articulate students.  Tom Coleman a 6th former from Surrey was kind of enough to do a wrap of the evening.   Having read it I’m thinking that a career as a tech journalist might be one he should check out!

An Evening Networking with Lord Mervyn Davies

Coming from someone who originally thought networking was just linking up PCs, I recently found out that in the business world, it means something entirely different! Being able to link the two together is something I have a strong interest in doing in the future.

I was lucky enough to receive an email invitation from my school’s careers advisor suggesting it might be interesting to attend a networking event in Capgemini as an opportunity to meet people working in Tech in their Holborn office. As it was also Ada Lovelace Day, they were joined by a very relevant speaker, Lord Mervyn Davies, former banker and Labour Government Minister, and author of the Davies Report into gender equality in UK Board Rooms. For more information: https://wearethecity.com/what-is-the-lord-davies-review/

Myself and my good friend Charlie got the train from Guildford to London Waterloo after school and arrived at 6pm to the very plush offices of Capgemini on Chancery Lane. First impressions are always important, and we certainly were impressed as we went up the lift to the 8th floor and were greeted by some Capgemini consultants who gave us our name tags. As we looked beyond them we saw the most fantastic view out over London. Photo opportunity number 1!

Everyone was very friendly and given the theme of diversity, there were lots of stands around the room showcasing efforts to promote it. We found this really educational and were especially surprised with all the great software and applications available around mental health, gender equality and inclusion.

We then took our seats and Lord Mervyn was introduced. It was so interesting to hear what his working life was like over the last 50 years. A big take-home for me was around his attitude and ability to adapt to all situations. Amazingly, he only spoke Welsh until he was 7, and being so resilient helped him here, he has clearly followed this through into the workplace. He mentioned that how you handle failure is just as important as how you handle success, and if you know yourself and practice what you’re not good at, you can’t go far wrong. Being flexible is important, as the pace of change over the last decade is exponential. He encouraged us to travel as much as possible, stay connected and keep reading. He emphasised self-awareness as a key factor in success, knowing how to take care of yourself, what you post online and being mindful of others. There was also an amazing cartoonist/graphics specialist documenting key points in a mind map along the way (see photo below).

I met with Michelle, who is the Director of the School Outreach Programme, she was also responsible for our invite, she was so welcoming and really put us at ease as we were rather nervous at what to expect. She even managed to get us a photo with Lord Davies, and I was lucky enough to meet with Mervyn (as he insisted on me calling him, he only uses the “Lord” title to book restaurants 😊). He asked me loads of questions about social media, and which sites were the most popular currently. He even asked me my opinion on which ones were the best. Then it was my turn to ask him some questions. We talked about careers, and I was fascinated to find out his opinion was that I (and all my future colleagues) will have 2-3 careers in our lifetime, to always expect change and go with it.

The inevitable question on Brexit did come up, but I’m not at liberty to discuss his opinion on this as he said it was off the record! His understanding of tech and its role in leadership is amazing, always encouraging us to treat everyone equally.

After this I had a further networking opportunity to talk to some Capgemini managers and the Chairman (she was very inspiring) about the differences between apprenticeship and graduate placement routes, and it was good to find out that not one size fits all. In the full spirit of inclusion, Capgemini incorporates both into people’s career paths so that everyone gets a chance to do well and be successful in this very exciting world of technology services, consulting and digital transformation.

Thank you, Capgemini, for this great opportunity, I’ll be back!   

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