Hastings students get a taste of working world at Canary Wharf

Year Nine students at Canary Wharf. Photo by Kneecap.
Year Nine students at Canary Wharf. Photo by Kneecap.

Almost 120 Year Nine pupils from Hastings and St Leonards commuted to Canary Wharf last week for a unique careers experience arranged by the Hastings Opportunity Area (HOA).

The students, from Hastings Academy, Ark William Parker, Ark Helenswood and St Leonards Academy, were hosted by some of the world’s biggest multinationals during their visit on Wednesday (June 5), including Citi Bank, ANZ Bank, Clearstream, Fitch Ratings and Barclays.

Upon arriving at Citi Bank’s European HQ, the group took part in a motivational session with speaker Action Jackson, who told the audience: “A glass ceiling is where you can see all of your dreams just above you, but you can’t achieve them because people tell you you can’t… but if you work hard and focus, we can smash that glass ceiling!”

Dylan, 14, from St Leonards Academy, said: “What most motivated me was that he got a D in English GCSE, and yet he’s published a book.

“He’s gone so far despite what society says we can do.”

The group next met Richard Meddings, chairman of TSB and the Hastings Opportunity Area, who told them about his own experiences in the sector, including when he was CFO of Standard Chartered and as a director of Deutche Bank.

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He said: “Working with fantastic and diverse teams has been very exciting over the years, but the thing I’ve loved most about my job is that it’s taken me around the world. I’m from a town called Wolverhampton and was the first in my family to go to university, but I worked very hard and have been very lucky to meet so many people and experience so many different cultures.”

Following these sessions, the Year Nines split into groups and went to working lunches at different banks, where they practiced networking skills before doing tours of the bank. They also took part in hands on workshops with professionals, including funding developing a banking app and working on a trading floor. One group, at Citibank, went to the penultimate floor of the UK’s fourth highest building and went through a Q&A about how a new smartphone is funded.

Owen, 14, from St Leonards Academy said: “The banking industry has a lot of different jobs to offer. Computer programming, for example, that you don’t think of when you think about banking. It’s made me think about doing a job like that myself – definitely more after today.”

His classmate Alyssia said: “It was very inspiring as to how many people make an impact with their jobs and you don’t even realise. And how much effort is put in daily. And it’s so much fun and very inspirational.”

The trip was part of the Hastings Opportunity Area’s commitment to improving careers experiences in Hastings and St Leonards, and was arranged in partnership with Career Ready.

Richard Meddings, HOA chairman, said: “Some of the kids today will have got on the tube for the first time and seen Canary Wharf which is a remarkable centre in terms of the scale of the buildings, the number of people and the intensity. It’s a change of experience. It’s about energy, resilience and hard work and attitude and ambition – and then the world if full of opportunity.”

Cordelia MacMillan, assistant principal at Hastings Academy, also attended the trip. She said: “They were blown over, stepping out of the tube, looking up at the sky scrapers, to what felt like New York – it was a step into unknown territory. But actually it was a real reality check because meeting people like Action Jackson, and the workers at City Bank they realised that was a future they could easily have – and that’s what’s important about an event like today.”

Visit https://hastingsopportunityarea.co.uk/ for more information.