On Saturday 7 July Woldingham School said farewell to the Upper Sixth with a graduation ceremony and prize giving for senior girls. Guest of Honour, Amol Rajan, BBC Media Editor, spoke to pupils about his career in media and the five lessons he had learnt along the way:
“Lesson One: Take responsibility.
There is one simple trick, one easy method, for working out who is going to thrive in their professional lives, and who isn't. The people who thrive are the people who take responsibility for their own actions. It takes guts to own up when you get something wrong. But here's the thing: if you take responsibility when you get things wrong, it means you can also legitimately take responsibility when you get things right.
Lesson Two: Say Sorry
This is closely related to the first lesson. Over the course of my life I've made a lot of mistakes, and I've had to do some very difficult things, like shutting a newspaper and sacking 400 friends of mine. And I've learned the amazing power of the word sorry. It takes guts to say sorry - but people will respect you if you do.
Lesson Three: Be good to people
There is simply no substitute for being a kind, generous, open-hearted person. This makes other people want to spend time with you. It helps you get out of difficult situations. And it means you're much more likely to get the job you want, because people give jobs to people they like.
Lesson Four: Work hard
I can say, hand on heart, that I am the hardest working person I know. This is because it gives me huge satisfaction being good at stuff, and the simple truth is, the harder you work, the better you will be at what you do, and so the more likely you will be to succeed.
Lesson Five: Recognise your privilege - and potential.
For most of the history of our species, what people have fought for is the right to control their own futures - to prove that destiny is an illusion, because nothing is set in stone. It's up to you how successful you are, how much you flourish, what you achieve. This is such a thrilling fact, that I think you should wake up and come to school every day realising how blessed you are, and that if you do what's right, there's no stopping you.”
Amol also spoke of how much important work had been achieved by female pioneers over the years in opening up opportunities for young women today, looking ahead to their future careers:
“For centuries - no millennia, thousands of years - there was a limit on what people like you could achieve. And by people like you, I mean girls becoming women. But thanks to the crusading work of female pioneers, from the suffragettes and Rosa Parks to Hillary Clinton and yes, Kylie Minogue, you guys can shatter the glass ceiling that has imprisoned girls and women for so long.”
Alex Hutchinson, Headmistress, said: “The momentum is gathering behind the young women of this generation, and I am confident that our leaving Upper Sixth will draw on all their experiences at Woldingham in order to take advantage of the new era of opportunity that awaits them. Indeed, this message was clear from our Chair of Governors, Ian Tyler, and our Guest Speaker, Amol Rajan, both of whom were under no illusions as to what these Woldingham girls will go on to achieve.”