Class of 2016, Technology Consulting and Assurance Associate Consultant
Laura was a student at Freemen’s until 2016 and shares her journey since Freemen’s, her thoughts on supporting women in the STEM sector and offers advice to current students, especially young girls considering careers in STEM.
Please introduce yourself and tell us briefly about your time at Freemen's.
Hello All – I’m Laura, and I left Freemen’s in 2016 after 11 brilliant years there. I went on to study a BSc in Biological Sciences at the University of Birmingham, took a gap year to travel (which I highly recommend doing after university), and am now working as a Consultant in the Technology Consulting and Assurance team at Mazars (an international professional services firm). I loved my time at Freemen’s, and the people are what made it so special. The teachers helped me achieve strong A Levels to move forward in life with, but the most important lessons I learnt during my time at Freemen’s were to do with key life skills such as respecting others, how to present myself professionally, and how to take a moral approach to life.
Tell us about your career journey so far and what you do now?
After graduating, I worked for 3 months at an insurance firm, which gave me good experience of the financial services industry but more importantly experience being in an office every day (it is quite an adjustment to go from being free to choose your schedule at university to office work). I knew this wasn’t for me and continued to apply for technology consulting graduate schemes until I got my current role – ‘Technology Consulting and Assurance Associate Consultant’ at Mazars in the London office. Here, I work on a wide range of engagements from External IT Audits to Advisory work on Operational Resilience, Data Privacy and Cyber Security. It is a great career to choose if you like variety and a challenge.
How/when did you know your current career path was for you?
During my first year of university, I realised that whilst I enjoyed learning about Biology, I didn’t want a career in it. I started researching career options by talking to people, attending career events and doing a lot of googling. I’d always wanted to achieve a very senior position in a company as an end-career goal, and so I looked at role models and worked backwards from their CVs (LinkedIn is great for this) to see where they started. When I came across professional services Consulting sometime in my first year of university, it immediately jumped out to me. Building client relationships whilst challenging myself with problem solving-based work projects aligned well with my personality, and I thought this industry was somewhere I would be happy. Being happy, at the end of the day, is the most important part of all of this.
If women are underrepresented in your industry, is anything being done to address this?
Women are currently very underrepresented across all STEM careers, and the technology industry is no different. However, there are many movements set up to support women who want to know more about getting into STEM careers – just have a look on LinkedIn and you will find many ‘Women in Tech’ or ‘Women in STEM’ groups to follow and events to attend. I feel really lucky to be in a team where our Partner (the head of the team) is extremely supportive of the Women in Technology movement, which has allowed the women in our team to come together, share ideas and see how we can make a difference.
What would be your one most important piece of advice for our current students?
In the words of Doris Day, ‘Que sera sera; whatever will be, will be’. This means, do not worry about the future. Your happiness is the most important thing, so please trust yourself that everything will work out as it should be. I find taking one thing at a time really helps me –finish your GCSE’s, then focus on your A Levels. Figure out what kind of higher education would suit you best – if you’re looking at universities, consider what the course has but also what the university and its city have to offer. Take each step as it comes and enjoy your time at school and university because once you’ve left, I am sure that you will miss it.