Blogs and News - St George's School For Girls, Edinburgh
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 MBE (Keynote Speaker)
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 (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.
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:
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.
Catherine's leads a team in the Programme Management Office at the online food delivery marketplace Just Eat Takeaway.com. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.