Last week, WCAN was proud to host its Evolution Conference at KMPG office in Canary Wharf. With over eighty girls age 15-18 in attendance and the contribution of keynote speakers and graduate panellists, it was a day packed full of shared wisdom, laughter, and empowerment.
We kicked off the day with a brief introduction from our KPMG representative, explaining to our girls who KPMG were, there position as one of the big four consulting firms in the market and the opportunities available to the girls at the firm should they consider a career in consulting.
The introduction was followed with a short ice breaker to ease our girls into the wonderful art of networking. Each young lady was assigned either the title of a popular song or the artist's name. Their task was to find their match and learn as much as they could about each other, with the winners getting a prize. The buzz filled the room as the young girls scurried across the room in search of their match, a sight which was both heart-warming and hilarious to see.
After the ladies settled into their seats, our host and WCAN team member, Natalie, kick started with a presentation to the ladies about choosing their careers and the importance of personal branding both online and offline. She highlighted the influence social media has on job opportunities and why it is important to carefully control the content they put out there, as their future employer may be watching or already are.
Up next was a grad panel comprising of recent and previous graduates from different university, with background in Engineering, Maths, Law, Economics, Media etc. Our girls posed questions to the panellists regarding their experience at university, their current careers, and navigating the workplace. There were many important questions raised and one which certainly took our panellists by surprise.
Following the grad panel, we took a short break then invited the girls back to do some personal statement and CV workshops with them. Natalie led another presentation on what makes a good or bad CV, and was later joined by myself to talk about UCAS and Clearing or Adjustment options on results day.
The day concluded with a presentation on interview skills and an incredible speech from our keynote speaker, Paris Petgrave, who shared her journey to success with the girls. Paris reminded the girls of the ingredients needed to succeed, and the importance of consistency and commitment. A woman of faith, Paris openly and poignantly shared how her faith had played a great part in her current success, and she encouraged our young girls to pursue faith where possible. She did not fail to highlight to the young girls the importance of hard work and networking as well. It was truly a memorable moment in the event, which was demonstrated by the rapturous applause received by the speaker.
The girls were led outside to explore the career and university stalls set up for them. Present were our sponsors, Citi, Accenture, KPMG, and Ashurst. We also had representatives from Oxford, Cambridge, and SOAS universities, all coming together to offer our girls insight into the world of work and university.
At the end of the day, I sat down with three of the attendees, Jemimah Asinwo, Hannah Falako and Ellise Gordon to find out their thoughts about the day:
The event truly was a success, and nothing short of inspirational for both the WCAN team and the young future leading-ladies who attended. They were reminded that failure does occur, however, this does not define them as beings. They were reminded that as black women, they can succeed in the professional environment regardless of the obstacles placed before them. They were inspired by the achievements of their now "Big Sisters" in the room. They were reminded that their dreams, big as they may be, are absolutely possible.