Blogs and News - St George's School For Girls, Edinburgh

11 Jun 2021
Women of the Future Conference

Women of the Future: Leading and Living in the 21st Century.

Monday 21 June 2021

At St George's we are passionate about the importance of giving girls inspirational role models and setting before them examples of people who have achieved a great deal in life, but not always through convention or expected routes. 

Our main speakers for this year's conference are joining us to reflect on the variety of pathways that they have taken in their careers, and what they consider to be their key achievements. (In-person and online).

We are delighted to be able to welcome:

Yewande Akinola

Yewande Akinola MBE (Keynote Speaker)

Engineering Designer & Innovator

Yewande is a chartered engineer, innovator and speaker. Her engineering experience includes the design and construction, innovation and manufacture of buildings and systems in the built environment. She has worked on projects in the UK, Africa, the Middle East and East Asia and has been named the UK Young Woman Engineer of the Year by the Institution of Engineering & Technology. She has also been awarded the Exceptional Achiever Award from the Association for BAME Engineers and the Association of Consultancy and Engineering, U.K. (ACE). She is a Visiting Professor at the University of Westminster.  She is passionate about STEM communication and has presented Engineering programmes for Television.  In the 2020 New Year Honours list, Yewande was awarded an MBE for services to engineering innovation and diversity in STEM. 

She has recently been appointed the UK's Innovation agency (Innovate UK) Ambassador for Clean Growth and Infrastructure. 


Dame Laura Lee

Dame Laura Lee (Speaker)

Chief Executive - Maggie's Centres

Laura worked as a clinical nurse specialist in Edinburgh, where she gave chemotherapy to Maggie Keswick Jencks, Laura shared Maggie’s vision of a cancer support centre housed in a non-clinical and uplifting environment where anybody affected by cancer could visit to access practical information, psychological and emotional support to help them build a life beyond a cancer diagnosis. There are now 24 centres with plans for future centres both in the UK and overseas. In 2009 Laura was appointed as an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects. In 2016 she was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor from Queen Margaret University, and in 2019 Laura was awarded a Damehood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for her services to people with cancer.


Dr Omolabake Fakunle (Speaker)

Chancellor's Fellow and Coordinator of the MSc Education General Pathway at Moray House School of Education and Sport (MHSES)

Dr Fakunle is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She is Lead Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Race Equality Sub-group at MHSES (2020-21), and a Steering Group member, Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) Project on Decoloniality (2021-2024).  
Labake is co-convener ECR Network, Scottish Educational Research Association (SERA), and International Advisory Board Member, Journal of Comparative and International Higher Education (JCIHE). Her award-winning research explores the intersection of internationalisation, inclusivity, employability, and education policy. Labake widely disseminates her work via peer-reviewed journals, blogs, and as an invited speaker at international conferences, seminars, and webinars. She has led and worked with multi-disciplinary teams on national and multi-national qualitative and mixed-method research projects. She is currently a Principal Investigator of a Principal Teaching Award Scheme (PTAS) funded university-wide project examining inclusiveness in internationalisation. Prior to her academic career, Labake was COO of her business and had worked as an accountant and auditor at KPMG, UPS, R.T Briscoe, BOC Gases and Zenith Bank.

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Claire Nelson (Speaker)

 CEO Netball Scotland

Claire Nelson is a global industry award-winning CEO who is recognised as one of the most impactful and influential women in UK women’s sport. Clair is also highly regarded as one of world netball’s most inspiring and innovative leaders. 

Since taking up the post in late 2015 she has been blazing a trail in women's sport, managing to position Netball Scotland as one of the fastest-growing and most innovative Governing Bodies in UK sport. In 2017, she launched the Strathclyde Sirens Netball Franchise which competes in the UK wide Sky Sports televised Vitality Netball Superleague and is the country's only semi-pro women's sports team with a TV broadcast deal. Claire specialises in business transformation, commercial, brand and marketing, having most recently worked with blue-chip brands such as Coca-Cola, Unilever, BT Global Services as well as with the EU and UK and Malaysian Governments. Claire brings a fresh approach to sport leadership and isn't afraid of a challenge. 

We are also pleased to welcome the following guests and speakers during the day:


thumbnail IMG 0183 1Angela Geddes
Operations Senior Programme Manager, Baillie Gifford

Angela joined Baillie Gifford in 2002 and is an experienced change professional designing, mobilising and leading key initiatives in operational excellence, that add value to clients and deliver on strategic operational objectives.  Angela graduated with a BA (Hons) in Business Studies from the University of Northumbria in 1995.



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Catherine Walker
Senior Manager, Corporate Strategy, Development and Planning, Just Eat

Catherine's leads a team in the Programme Management Office at the online food delivery marketplace Just Eat Along the journey, she has created software products, built teams, championed innovation and played a small part in helping the digital sector to change from a minority interest to an integral part of all our lives. Coming from a non-technical background, she soon realised that it was more satisfying and fun to build systems, instead of being an operator or user of systems that others had built. She made the decision to learn to code, which she enjoyed, and which enabled her to work on a wide variety of products and problems, from road traffic accident analysis to mapmaking to taking a library of scientific publications online.



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Mandy Clements
Former CEO Aberdeen Standard Investments
Mandy is currently a non-executive director of Personal Assets Trust ( 1.5 billion Investment Trust) and until December 2019 where she was CEO of legal entities responsible for GBP 300 Billion assets at Aberdeen Standard Investments having worked at the company for 19 years. She was a member of the Senior Leadership team and also oversaw the Dealing Function globally for over 14 years and have held dealing roles at F & C Asset Mgt ( Foreign and Colonial), Brewin Dolphin and BNP Capital Markets having started her career at Grieveson Grant Stockbrokers in 1983 as a 16-year-old school leaver.

Caitlin Goodale
Video Game Designer and former pupil
Caitlin is the Head of UI/UX Design at Drest, the world's first luxury fashion styling game! She specialises in leading product design teams that bridge the gap between games and the real world, from teaching languages through play, to creativity in augmented reality at Microsoft, to Minecraft’s console editions. 







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 Jessica Hardwick

Chief Marketing Officer, AcidMark, Ltd.

Born in Edinburgh, Jessica spent most of her career in the US. She brings a wealth of  Silicon Valley experience, as founder and CEO of 2 innovative startups and a successful digital marketing firm. She has led digital marketing teams for large organizations, including Cedars-Sinai Hospital and Genomic Health, and consulted for companies that include 20th Century Fox and Telemundo. Today, she is back home in Scotland and working with Acidmark, Ltd, a launch studio that focuses on a new generation of innovative Scottish design. A graduate of Santa Clara University, Jessica holds degrees in both Economics and Business.


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Marie McCormack

Senior project consultant and entrepreneur

Marie has built a career around her love of new projects, variety and change. She has held over 30 professional roles working in industries varying from hospitality, yachting, technology, teaching, animal conservation and cosmetics. Sometimes projects are a success and sometimes they fail. Having a passion for projects means Marie is always willing to try, learn and enjoy the experience along the way.




ColoursPegah2Pegah Meridies

Artist, Music Producer and Director - former student

 Pegah Meridies is a St George’s alumna and studied Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Durham, holding the Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship for the Arts. Whilst studying, she was an active member of the theatre community at the university. By the end of her second year, she decided to focus on music. After graduating with a 1st in French and Spanish, she honed her craft for music production, mixing, mastering, composition, songwriting, performance and directing all whilst learning how to edit music videos. She is currently working towards her second release, a dark pop track that incorporates elements of hip hop. Her talk will touch on the challenges and rewards of taking an unconventional route as well as the importance of self-awareness and versatility.



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Diane Blood
Former Veterinary Surgeon retrained as a professional Garden and Landscape Designer
With her business partner, Diane set up a design studio, Silverflowe Design, 10 years ago. They design mostly domestic gardens in Edinburgh, the Lothians, Perth and Kinross and all of their work comes via word of mouth. 
They design 3D space using mostly natural materials as sustainably as they can. Planting design is changing quickly with British designers in the lead. Taking inspiration from natural plant communities, it is becoming more naturalistic and habitat-led, increasing biodiversity and sustainability in our gardens. 

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Clare MacDougall

Head of Trade Marketing for Middle East, North America and UK, Seafood Scotland


Clare has a degree in Marketing and Communications and a Postgraduate qualification in Marketing. She has over 20 years’ experience in marketing and PR and has worked in both the public and private sector, including local authority and financial services and has also taught undergraduate and postgraduate students in Marketing and Events at Edinburgh College.

Clare is currently Head of Trade Marketing for Seafood Scotland responsible for raising awareness of, and promoting the Scottish Seafood industry in the geographic areas of Middle East, North America and the UK. Clare’s role includes managing and delivering a programme to help increase sales of Scottish seafood in international and home markets, contributing to the Scottish export targets for food and drink and contributing to Scottish Governments Ambition 2030 strategy. Clare attends the Scotland Food and Drink Export Partnership to determine the top priority markets for Scottish food and drink exports and to agree the strategy for assisting Scottish companies in selling their products in these markets.

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Kate O'Sullivan BEM

Deputy Chair of British Rowing

Employed as an Engineer, Research Manager and a Director of Professional and Organisational Development since 1985, when the opportunity presented itself to try something new Kate O’Sullivan jumped into (the icy lake of recklessness otherwise known as) a new career and has never looked back. With over 30 years of engineering, higher education, learning and development, and sport coaching and development behind her, working for some outstanding organisations, Kate believed the time was right to bring her knowledge, experience and skills together for a greater good. Coaching, a lifelong passion, had always played an important part in Kate’s career. In January 2016 Kate decided it was time to move away from the security of working for others. With the thought, ‘it's now or never', and firm belief that it would work out, Kate made the transition and embarked on a portfolio career.

Very quickly Kate built a strong network of contacts and a busy coaching schedule, helping people of different ages, drawn to her authentic no-nonsense attitude, passion and commitment, begin to believe in themselves and what they can achieve for a positive future. As well as establishing her own business, in 2017 Kate was elected as Deputy Chair of British Rowing, one of the UK’s most successful Olympic Sports. Kate continues to thrive in this next stage of her career, as Kate always believed she would. The icy lake has never felt better.

Kate was awarded a British Empire Medal in the 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

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