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Girls learn how to be leaders of tomorrow at event organised by Henley Business School’s ICMA Centre

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Students from The Wren School in Reading got a glimpse of the world of business and finance during a special morning of workshops hosted by the ICMA Centre at Henley Business School.

Year 9 and 10 students were invited to Henley Business School’s ICMA (International Capital Market Association) Centre at the University of Reading’s Whiteknights Campus on Thursday (23 March) to take part in the pilot of a new leadership project aimed at giving young people an insight into the world of business.

Project OLIVIA, which stands for Opportunities, Leadership, Inclusion, Voice, Independence and Ambition, is the brainchild of Dr Miriam Marra, Associate Professor of Finance and co-Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at Henley Business School, who wants to encourage more young women from local schools into higher education in business and finance.

Twelve students and their teachers – Alison Ainscough and Sandy Hardy – attended the pilot session, which involved talks from fellow Henley academics Dr Melissa Carr and Dr Nadia Kappou, and PhD student Lambis Dionysopoulos, discussing financial markets, fintech and why it is important for women to lead businesses.

The girls then heard from Reading-based charity Smart Works, an organisation which helps women get back into work through career coaching and practical support with clothing and toiletries, before trying their hand at putting together an appropriate interview outfit for two fictional characters using a selection of clothing items and mannequins.

Dr Marra said: “The session went really well, and the students were very engaged and enthusiastic. They were encouraged to think about how to be active leaders in whatever future career they may opt for. Smart Works Reading were great and added a fun and interactive element to the day. The girls really enjoyed dressing the mannequins during the activity, and gave some thoughtful and carefully considered reasons for their style choices which reflected a more modern approach to feeling authentic and comfortable when dressed smartly.

“We received some great feedback from everyone involved, and really hope that this will be the first of many Project OLIVIA sessions.”

Teacher Alison Ainscough said: “The girls were really excited to be here and have a glimpse of university life. All of the speakers have been so good, and the girls engaged with many of the conversations. We have been made to feel so welcome and would definitely come back again.”

Dr Marra added: “My thanks to everyone who took part in and supported the very first Project OLIVIA event, with special thanks to Andrea Malcolm and Fiona Biggins from Smart Works Reading, my colleague Leanne Ley at the ICMA Centre who co-organised the event with me, and of course our wonderful guests from The Wren School.”

Published 28 March 2023
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

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