Our panel, left to right, Gabriella Belgrave, Forensic Accountant at KPMG, Stephen Roy, Section Manager at Network Rail, Michael Keohan, Producer of BBC Radio Kent breakfast show, Rupert Knowles, Stationer and Master of Ceremonies for the event, Jemma Fairclough-Haynes, Managing Director of Orchard Employment Law and Aron Priest, Managing Director and Co-Founder of Solo Press.

Working closely with the Stationers’ Livery Company, Stationers’ Crown Woods Academy was delighted to host a second Student Careers Question Time on Wednesday 30th January.

This highly interactive event was attended by Stationers’ Crown Woods students from years 10 upwards and year 10 students from The Leigh Academy and year 12 students from The Halley Academy.

Ably Chaired by Stationer, Rupert Knowles, Director of Piano, the event began with a brief introduction to each panel member.


Working with their teachers beforehand with full sight of panelist biographies, students had considered a series of suitable, enlightening questions for the panel. These included:

  • What motivates you to keep going when things are tough?

Keep going; obstacles can be overcome and things will always get better. Rely on friends and family to support you.

  • Who inspired you?

Older colleagues sharing their experience of quality, values and service within the business

  • Did you participate in work experience? If so, how did it influence you?

The panel had a huge variety of work experience including waitressing, washing up, paper rounds, working in a greengrocers, handing out stickers, cleaning cars, working in a bank and being a receptionist. It was clear that several of these jobs were badly paid and far from glamorous. Every panel member stressed that they had learnt from their work experience including transferable skills such as increased communication skills.

  • What kind of apprenticeships are available in your field?

This depends very much on the sector. Both Stephen and Aron had completed apprenticeships themselves. Stephen elaborated upon his apprenticeship explaining that something very similar is currently on offer by Network Rail. Gabriella spoke about the 360° apprenticeships offered by KPMG where apprentices have the opportunity to rotate within the organisation and then specialise. Michael stated that there are very few apprenticeships within his sector but that for students looking to pursue a career in media, his best advice would be to gain experience by shadowing someone already working in the field. Jemma talked about the CILEx route into Law as opposed to a University route whist Aron commented that there is currently a huge drive to increase apprenticeships on offer within the print industry.

  • What advice would you give to your younger self?

Again, there were a number of answers to this question with the key advice being that everyone faces rejection at some point; keep going as this is never personal. Be proactive in searching for your career goals; do what you enjoy and be passionate about it. Listen and carefully consider your pathway but don’t listen to people who will put you down. Don’t be too hard on yourself if things go wrong!

Typically for our young people, a further question looked at starting salaries and financial progression!

Utilising feedback from the first such event, students were given a “free networking” opportunity as a finale where they were able to mingle with and ask one to one questions of our impressive panel.

Academy Comment

Careers Lead, Mrs Marshall, of Stationers’ Crown Woods Academy commented:

“On behalf of Stationers’ Crown Woods Academy I would like to say a very big thank you. I was genuinely  impressed with the calibre of the panel today. They were a diverse group and each brought something different  to the table. I spoke to the students from our academy and they said they found it very interesting and the panel were all approachable.”

Panel Comment

“I had a wonderful time at Stationers Crown Woods Academy earlier this week. Joining my fellow panelists, we enjoyed answering thought provoking questions about our careers from the students. When I was 15 I had never heard of KPMG or Forensic Accounting! A great opportunity for the students to gain insight into the world of work before starting the next part of their journey.” – Gabriella Belgrave, Forensic Accountant at KPMG and Governor, The Halley Academy

“Highlight of my week so far has to be being able to spend time answering questions about  careers from young people at Stationers’ Crown Woods Academy in Eltham. They had a real variety of questions for myself and the panel members.” – Jemma Fairclough-Haynes, Managing Director, Orchard Employment Law

“A great day! Really enjoyed it!” – Aron Priest, Member of the Stationers Livery Company and Managing Director and Co-Founder Solo Press

Thank you to all concerned for such a valuable event for our students.