A group of Business BTEC Extended Diploma Level 3 students held a careers event today (7 March 2017) at CONEL’s Enfield Centre. Motivational speakers ranging from global corporate giant BP to City hedge fund traders came to tell over a 100 fascinated students the choices they had made and the career paths they had taken.

Christina O’Donovan-Rossa, BP Head of HR Global Functions First, described her early life as a non-English speaking child raised in Lebanon through to her university days over 30 years ago, starting her career in banking and moving to HR, as she realised her true love was in working with people not numbers. A mother of four who has worked in the US, as well as in the UK, Christina described her passion for her job and working at BP and why she had come along to the event:

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“We’re very keen at BP to reach out to as many talented people as possible in our local communities. While our company is global we want to have a local presence and we’re only based in Canary Wharf, which is quite near to CONEL.  Many people associate BP with oil and gas, but often don’t realise the vast range of careers we have to offer from finance, HR, admin and support to facilities, security and IT.”

Two of Christina’s colleagues also spoke at the event, Hatty Burt, BP HR Graduate Trainee and Sue McKenzie, PA to the BP HR Vice President.  Hatty told the CONEL students how she studied for a degree in Social Policy and Criminology, but it was when she happened to complete a module in Employment Relations that she realised her true calling. After completing a Masters in HR, Hatty was extremely focused on what she wanted to do and after a rigorous selection process joined BP.  She is now halfway through her HR Graduate Trainee Programme. Sue described her early ambition to become an Oscar winning actress was thwarted by the aspirations of her family who insisted she get a ‘proper’ job. As a result, she went to college and studied for a Business and Secretarial BTEC Level 3 Diploma. She was soon travelling the world as PA to the editor of a fashion magazine and was convinced she had finally achieved her childhood dream in living the life of the PA played by Anne Hathaway in ‘The Devil Wears Prada’.  Sue’s career in fashion came to end when she realised it did not fit with her desire to spend more time with her daughter and to help fund her daughter’s ambition to become a lawyer. Sue took some time to rethink, applied to BP and now couldn’t be happier as she loves her job and it fits in with her family life. Sue urged the students: “Think hard about what it is you want to do and what it is that you want from life – and then find a job that will give you that.”

After the break the students heard from Foreign Exchange Traders and former footballers Alex Kenlock and George Jumbo. Both men now aged 21, had been child footballing prodigies. Alex played for Crystal Palace, Fulham and Notts County but was let go at 18 dashing his hopes of ever making his dreamed for debut at a Premiere League club. He describes taking a photo of his last £5 note as a life-changing moment when he decided to turn things around, find a mentor and today he is in charge of a six figure hedge fund.  His advice to the spellbound students was: “Get a mentor, it may be someone you know or perhaps someone you find through LinkedIn, but identify the person who you want to model yourself on and then ask them to mentor you.”

George who is now working as a Trader too after finding inspiration in Alex, formerly played for Cardiff and West Ham and plays now for Broxbourne FC. His advice to the students: “Make a written plan for your life, take calculated risks, don’t do a job you hate or if you have to make sure it’s only for a short time and you have an exit strategy.”

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Business Level 3 student, Michael Nguyen described his experience of the event as “exciting and inspiring”. Alberta Agyemand said: “Today was really beneficial in getting us to think about all of the opportunities we have through studying Business.” Leseana Joseph-Kennedy remarked: “The event really helped me because I want to work in HR and the speakers have given me so much to think about.”

One of the event organisers, Elizabeth Daka said: “We put on the event to give young people the opportunity to find out about future careers and to motivate them to work in business districts, such as Canary Wharf. The project is part of our qualification, Unit 18 titled Managing an Event. I took part in the Career Ready internship programme run at CONEL last year so I had personal contacts at BP that I could ask to come along.”

The students’ teacher Saj Mawnwoollah said of his group: “The students have shown real initiative, drive and motivation in organising this event. They have shown the importance of networking and connecting with people from different industries to put on an excellent event.”

The group of students who organised the event were Elizabeth Daka, Arvie Kittenge, Firat Ozcelik, Neda Burinskaite, Philip Darkwa, Aleksandra Wegrzyn, Karina Jarzebowska

If you are interested in a Business course at CONEL, please browse our courses by clicking on the link here. 

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