Secretary of State inspires next generation of women leaders

Secretary of State for Education urges 14 and 15 year old girls to see their own potential, "You just need to be you to be a great leader". The Rt Hon Justine Greening MP addressed 175 young women from across London to motivate them to become leaders as part of the University of Roehampton's Class of 2020 initiative.

Posted: 1 November 2016

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Class of 2020, a partnership between Roehampton and BT, was developed to enhance the ambitions of young women through the power of education. The inaugural teaching day ‘Liberate the Leader in You', led by Director of Roehampton Business School, Professor Sharon Mavin, was designed to teach the girls participating in the scheme skills in leadership.

Justine Greening MP welcomed pupils in her introduction and shared her own experiences of going to comprehensive school, what motivated her to be the first person in her family to go to university and what it takes to be a leader today. She said:

"There's an African proverb which teaches a great deal about leadership, which is ‘If you want to go fast go alone, but if you want to go far go together'. You need to relate to people around you and understand what motivates them; some of the best leaders I've worked with are the people who really understood what made me tick.

"The best leaders are the ones who aren't there for personal gain; they're there because they really care about the cause. You have to feel passionate about what you're aiming for and believe in what you're doing."

Greening talked about her time in office as Secretary of State for International Development, and the people who inspired her, reminding the girls that not all leaders follow the same path to the top. Leaders can come from anywhere in an organisation, as long as they inspire others and drive change. During her final comments on leadership, she said:

"There are lots and lots of very different leaders. You might see people and think ‘I can never be like that, they're amazing' but you don't have to be like them. You just need to be you."

The 14 and 15 year olds spent the day identifying their own values and passions and how these influence their decisions and ethics. Using their creativity, they learnt what it is to be a leader and how their lives are already shaped by whom they lead and who they are led by.

"The Class of 2020 project was initiated to raise the aspirations of young women; the workshops have been designed to show these women how they can go on to lead and set ambitious goals for themselves," explains Professor Mavin, an expert in women in leadership.

"Today, while we have a woman Prime Minister and women are climbing the commercial business hierarchy, there is still work to be done to recognise greater equality in boardrooms and throughout business. Giving young women the ability to develop their capabilities will hopefully encourage their drive and inspiration so that they can recognise that they are already leaders and can lead in whichever field they choose to pursue.

"Roehampton Business School aims to develop business-ready independent thinkers who are fully-equipped with the attributes needed for business. The Class of 2020 workshops have been created with this in mind; we want to start these young women on a pathway to success from very early on."

Class of 2020 was launch to mark the 175th anniversary of Whitelands Colleges, and Greening explained the history of the University to the young women, "I can't think of a better place for a workshop like this because the University of Roehampton has been providing higher education to women for over 175 years; longer than any other university in the country."

Visit the website for further information about the Class of 2020

To find out more about the history of Roehampton, including an interactive timeline, visithttp://www.roehampton.ac.uk/175/

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