Interview with Anthony Simpson, Principal, ESMS

Over the summer break, we caught up with Anthony Simpson, new Principal of ESMS, and asked him to tell us more about his career before moving to ESMS and his plans for the future.

Tell us a little about your career before you moved to ESMS, what subject did you teach before you moved into management and how did you find it moving from private to state then back to private sector education.

I started my career teaching maths at Giggleswick, a boarding school in North Yorkshire.  I was there for nine years in a variety of roles, from Mathematic teacher to Assistant Director of studies, living in the boarding house and ending my tenure there as Head of Mathematics.  I felt I was a strong teacher and I wanted to see if this was true in different environments, so I moved to become an Assistant Principal in an inner-city school in Liverpool; in one of the most deprived areas in the UK.  I was living there during the week and travelling home at weekends, so whilst I had success with my role, after some time I wanted to spend more time with my family.  I applied to a school in Keighley that was about to go into special measures for the role of Vice Principal.  The aim was to turn the school around and make a big impact, which my management team and I managed to achieve.  After this challenge I then wanted to focus more on the pastoral side of school leadership, so I moved back to the boarding school at Giggleswick as the Senior Deputy Head.

Tell us about your life outside of school. I’ve heard you’re a triathlete, how do you find time for the training required and how often do you get to compete in tournaments?

Prior to moving to Edinburgh, I used to compete in triathlons in various competitions in North Yorkshire, the Lakes and Scotland.  I find if I train I work more effectively, so I have to make time for some form of exercise.  I’m very goal orientated so I need something to work towards.  I’ve only raced once this year but I do have the European Championships in Bilbao in a couple of months.  I also do a lot of walking with my black Labrador over the hills in Edinburgh and on the beach.

What do you see as the main area of development for ESMS as a whole in the coming years?  What is your vision for the future of the schools?

The vision will be developed with the Senior Leadership Team, incorporating the views of our staff and School community.  We need to stick close to the values, but we also need to invest time developing our educational offer so that we set ourselves apart from other schools in Edinburgh.  The most immediate challenge is steadying the ship after Covid and steering the School safely through the upcoming political and economic climate.

You spent a year as Head of Stewart’s Melville College before taking the step up to Principal.  What did you learn during that year that has helped to shape your vision?

I learned an awful lot about the Scottish education system, the staff and how much the school means to them personally and I got to know the children very well, all of which I have really enjoyed. Working closely alongside The Mary Erskine School and ESMS Junior School gave me a good feel for what the staff, parents and pupils across ESMS want from the Schools. 

What has been the most challenging part of working at ESMS so far?

Gaining an understanding of all three Schools and their different traditions is a challenge when you first arrive and of course getting to know people in a short space of time can be a challenge too but it’s actually a challenge I really enjoy. I am really looking forward to getting to know my colleagues in other parts of the schools over the course of this year and exploring how I can best support them to move forward. 

Bex Jones (MES 2015), Design Consultant at Shore Group

What were your favourite subjects when you were at school?

Maths, Physics and Product Design!

When you left school, did you have a career path in mind?

I would say taking my time selecting a university course really helped me have clarity on my career path so, all going well, I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do. However, it wasn’t until I was immersed in my course and had experience with various projects that I knew I would like to pursue the medical industry.

Did you find it tough getting your first role after graduating or was the pathway quite straightforward?

I unfortunately graduated during the first year of the pandemic, which meant there was a lot of uncertainty with the market. I found it quite tough initially as there weren’t many opportunities I was interested in, which caused a bit of anxiety. However, I worked in hospitality to keep me ticking over while applying, and after a few months I found a great opportunity in Edinburgh with an exciting start-up. Looking back, I’m glad I was patient and applied for jobs that were applicable, rather than rushing and potentially ending up in a less relevant role purely to succumb to the pressure of getting a job straight out of university. There’s no rush!

What helped to guide you to your role today?

In school I always enjoyed, and knew my strengths lay with, Maths and Physics. I was intrigued with how things worked and therefore knew engineering would favour these skills. However, I also had a very keen interest in the creative aspect of Product Design and the relationship between people and products, which is what made my university course so ideal, as I was able to combine these passions. Over the five years of the PDE course, the huge variety projects and opportunities helped guide me towards my career today.

What inspired you to pursue a career in product design in the medical sector?

I was always drawn to medical based projects at university and completed a few throughout my five years. On the back of my fourth-year project, I was fortunate enough to be selected for an internship in New Zealand, where I spent 7 weeks working for a Telecare company designing assistive devices. I believe this solidified my desire to work in the medical industry as I got to see first-hand the positive impact you can make on people’s lives through great innovation. It was no shock then that my final year project, where you can choose whatever topic you please, was medical related. I was able to speak to some incredible medical professionals and users in the hospital throughout the project, which was an invaluable experience and one I won’t forget.  I also followed Shore’s work during university, even applying to intern some summers, and was always interested in their amazing projects. So, I think a combination of these various experiences and research within the medical industry are what inspired me to pursue this area. 

Can you tell us about a project that you have worked on that is live in the sector?

In my previous job I worked on a product called BackHug, which is a robotic physiotherapy bed that is designed to mobilise the joints around the spine to help people with chronic back pain and conditions like Multiple Sclerosis. This is currently the only project I have worked on that is live in the sector, which is amazing as I’ve been able to see how user’s day-to-day pain has been reduced drastically, and their lives improved with it. 

An exciting project that will be live in the future that I have been working on since joining Shore is a novel, reusable drug delivery system designed for self-administration. We are designing this for a large pharmaceutical company, which has been an amazing experience to work so closely with the clients. I’m very excited to see how the project comes out as I think it’s an incredible concept for the future of drug delivery systems. 

What is your role at Shore and what does it involve day-to-day?

I am a Design Consultant / Mechanical Design Engineer. The great thing about working at a consultancy like Shore is that my day-to-day tasks can vary greatly depending on the phase of the project we are in. I was very fortunate to join my project from the early stages, so I have had a diverse range of tasks since joining in December. For example, in initial concept generation, I spent a lot of time on CAD, 3D printing prototypes, and then testing these before making iterations. Then further along the process I have been involved in human factor studies, testing out a shortlist of concepts to be taken forward for development.

What do you like most about your job?

The variety of tasks I do is one of my favourite things about my job as it allows to me continue developing my skills over a wide range of areas. However, my favourite thing is knowing I’m contributing to designing and creating products that are helping people and improving their lives in some way.

What has been the most challenging part of your career so far?

Probably moving jobs from my previous one to Shore, as there was a lot of anxiety when handing in my notice, worrying about letting people down or moving on too early. However, if you’re sure of something you want then you have to put yourself first and take your chances while you can.

Do you have any advice for pupils at ESMS who might wish to follow a similar career path?

It’s really beneficial to take your time looking into your university course and what it can offer you. The projects and extracurricular clubs are extremely valuable in helping you decide what you enjoy and are passionate about. Also don’t be afraid to ask questions or to question something! I think if you’re curious about things, creative or even just enthusiastic, then engineering is a career that I highly recommend. Having a job that provides you with such a diverse range of skills and a variety of projects to work on and learn from is extremely rare, in my opinion, so go for it! You never know, your blue-sky ideas could change people’s lives. 

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Still designing and innovating medical devices with hopefully some projects that are live in the sector and doing well! Shore have previously won The Red Dot Design Award, an international competition, for their designs so I would love to have been on a project that is nominated or successful in this in five years.

What’s your fondest memory from your schooldays?

I think it has to be the Christmas Panto. It was always such a fun time of year, everyone was in the best of spirits, and the teachers always put on a good show.

Melville College Reunion

An informal reunion for all Melville College former pupils will take place on Friday 4 November at the Clubhouse at Inverleith starting at 2.00pm. As part of the reunion, the downstairs function room will be renamed the Dougie Morgan Room. There will be a display of Melville College memorabilia during the afternoon.

The invitation is extended to all Melville College former pupils and for those who wish to bring their partner. The cost is £18 per person.  Anyone who wishes to attend please contact David Dunsire, Clerk/Treasurer, Melville College Trust via email : daviddunsire@outlook.com.

Christina Cheung (MES 2011), Senior Business Sustainability Analyst at B Lab Global

What were your favourite subjects when you were at school?

It changed from year to year depending on what we were learning but on the whole my favourite subjects were Maths, Chemistry, Art and Product Design. I liked Maths and Chemistry as I prefer working with numbers and equations than reading/writing large amounts of text. Similarly with Art and Product Design I enjoyed being able to express myself through drawings rather than writing essays. 

When you left school, did you have a clear career path in mind?

When I was leaving school, I’d already accepted a place at university to study Chemistry so I had some idea I would end up in a STEM career. However, I didn’t have a clear career path in mind and I purposefully chose Chemistry as I felt it was a broad enough subject to keep my options open. A career in sustainability was definitely not on the horizon, the word ‘sustainability’ wasn’t even in my vocabulary at the time, let alone a potential career path.

Did you find it tough getting your first role after graduating or was the pathway quite straightforward?

I graduated with an MChem in Chemistry, from the University of Edinburgh. It was a challenging degree and in the end I didn’t achieve the degree grade I was anticipating. I was used to achieving high grades throughout school and the majority of university so when I received the lower than expected grade my confidence took a significant hit.

Whilst trying to figure out what my next step should be, I received some great advice from a university tutor who me that if a career in Chemistry wasn’t a good fit for me, I could easily change career. My tutor highlighted that it was likely I’d have 3 or 4 different careers in my lifetime and that I was graduating in a different time to when my parents were picking their jobs as they would likely keep one job for a long period of time. That advice really helped me to see the bigger picture and I realised I didn’t need to pursue a typical Chemistry graduate career like working in a lab if it didn’t feel right. I ended up working various jobs including being a science communicator, a criminal defence caseworker and box office manager for a couple of years before finding a job that led me on my current career path. So, my tutor was right and within the first two years after graduating I’d already created potential career paths. 

What motivated you to go into sustainability?

Understanding the urgency of the climate crisis and how our planet will be affected if we don’t take action steered me towards a career in sustainability. Taking action for me means trying to live consciously to reduce my individual carbon footprint, such as using a reusable water bottle, eating less meat or avoiding buying fast fashion. These conscious choices do add up collectively, however, I decided that if I could dedicate my career to causes which mitigate the worst effects of climate change I’d be able to make a greater impact than my individual actions. I think it’s important to acknowledge it’s a privilege to be able to make sustainable choices and not everyone can choose to buy something that’s organic, fair trade and zero-waste for example. Reflecting on this, I felt businesses, especially large corporations, needed to take more responsibility for the environmental and social impacts their products and services have and how they should work towards making sustainable choices accessible for all. This is what motivated me to pursue a career supporting businesses to operate sustainably. 

What is your role at B Lab Global and what does it involve day-to-day?

For some context, B Lab Global certifies B Corporations or B Corps for short. We define B Corps as businesses who achieve high standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency . As a Senior Business Sustainability Analyst I’m responsible for assessing businesses to meet our standards. I specialise in working with Large Enterprise and Multinational Companies which means I work with businesses with revenues above $100M and who operate in multiple countries. Each day looks different as we are typically working with several companies at the same time who are at different stages of their certification journey. They could be in the process of becoming a B Corp for the first time or they could be recertifying, this happens every three years, where we re-review their business practices to ensure they are consistently meeting our standards. We do this using the B Impact Assessment, which is a free online tool that any business can use to track their positive social and environmental impact.  So my day usually consists of reviewing supporting evidence companies have submitted and assessing if it can verify the company’s practices and meet B Lab’s standard’s requirements. If they are not able to meet the requirements, we can provide guidance on improvements to make. As well as reviewing documentation, my time is spent engaging with businesses ahead of certifying to review the scope of their operations to ensure we certify their impact in a meaningful way.

What do you like the most about your job?

Sustainability is applicable to all businesses regardless of the industry they operate in, so I really appreciate being able to work with a diverse range of businesses around the world. It’s interesting to understand the sustainability challenges different businesses face depending on the industry, geographical location or political climate they are operating in.  

I feel motivated working with multinational companies because if we can support them to make changes and do business in a more sustainable way, it’s great to reflect on the large impact this can have on their workers, the communities they operate in and for the environment.

What has been the most challenging part of your career so far?

As you can see from my previous answers, I didn’t have a clear career path in mind leaving school and still wasn’t any closer to knowing what I wanted to do after graduating from university. It took a lot of trial and error before I had an idea of what sort of job I wanted to pursue.

Is there a particular company or organisation you admire due to their sustainability credentials or their promotion of sustainability?

There are a few that come to mind, I really value businesses who have cleverly designed their business models to incorporate circular economy thinking to minimise waste. For example, British Sugar, produce their sugar from sugar beets grown in Norfolk to make granulated sugar, they then redirect the heat and CO2 generated from production to greenhouses to grow tomatoes. By redirecting their waste streams they were able to reduce their carbon emissions and produce an additional food product. Another company I admire is Fairphone, who manufacture sustainable smart phones. I value their commitment to ensuring fair working conditions and fair wages throughout their supply chains as well as their focus on ensuring precious metals are responsibly sourced. Beyond their sustainability commitments in manufacturing the product they’ve also considered the environmental footprint at the end of the phone’s lifecycle and have purposefully designed their phones to be taken apart so that consumers can repair their phones rather than throwing their phones away. They are also a B Corp which means they meet the high standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. For more inspiration of sustainable businesses, you can check out the B Corp directory on our website: https://www.bcorporation.net/en-us/find-a-b-corp.

Do you have any advice for pupils at ESMS who might wish to follow a similar career path?

Sustainability is a broad field, so my advice for ESMS pupils interested in sustainability but who are unsure where to start is to check out the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. These aligned goals by UN members aim to address the most urgent sustainability issues we are facing globally. There are 17 goals so I would recommend reading through the goals and choosing the issues that light a fire in you or sparks your curiosity.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I feel I’ve found a great organisation in B Lab Global so I hope to still be at B Lab in five years’ time continuing to support businesses make impactful changes to how they operate. Though if you look at my CV, you’ll see I like to move on to a new challenge after a few years so I’m not certain where exactly I’ll be in five years but I know I’ll most likely be in a sustainability related role. 

What’s your fondest memory from your schooldays?

My favourite memories include my first day joining Mary Erskine at the start of third year, it was an exciting time starting a new school and it was the day I met my friends who I’m still friends with today! Of course, Carbisdale and the Christmas panto have a special place in my heart but I think what I miss the most is just being able to see my friends every day and the times we could have a laugh together. 

Rescheduled Burns Supper in Australia

The annual Burns Supper of the Watsonians NSW Australia Club will take place on Saturday 23 July, at the Fairmont Restaurant in the Occidental Hotel where the party will have exclusive use of the bar and restaurant.  Doors will open at 6.45pm for a 7pm start.  A three-course meal with haggis entrée and a nip of whisky, with a choice of options for the main course, is included in the ticket price of £93. 

The evening will begin with a piper and the traditional haggis ceremony and will also include entertainment during the evening by Harry, our professional Watsonian poet. His repertoire is legendary! For those who haven’t had the pleasure, check out his website for a sneak preview….http://harrylaing.com.au/workshops/.

To secure your booking please deposit payment to the Watsonian Club account including your name in the field at deposit transfer so that we can identify your payment:
BSB : 032 184
Account : 276971
Account Name: Watsonian Club of NSW

Please also email Pat Stevenson at nswwatsonians@gmail.com with your name and school.

Resumption of FP Club Monthly Lunches

The FP Club would like to invite former pupils of the Club and Guild as well as former staff from both schools to join them for their first monthly lunch since early 2020!  This will take place on Friday 28 October, at the Clubhouse, at Inverleith.  The lunch will start at 1pm but doors will open at 12pm for those who would like to meet up for a drink and chat ahead of the meal.  The price will be £16 for two courses and £18 for three courses with menu options being selected on booking.  Coffee or tea and mints after the meal is included in all tickets. 

To book your place, please visit Trybooking

The following lunch will take place on Friday 25 November and bookings will open in early September.  The Christmas lunch will take place on Friday 16 December – further details will be released in mid-September.  The Christmas lunch in particular is always well attended and often sells out so please book early to avoid disappointment. 

The Season of Change

We are pleased to welcome Anthony Simpson as our new Principal as of 1 August and are looking forward to recruiting a new Director of Development later this year.  We have been planning for the return of the monthly lunches, run by the FP Club and supported by the Development Office along with the return of the former staff lunches, now being hosted by Norma Rolls and Bryan Lewis, both in the autumn term.

We are grateful to everyone who was able to contribute to our Access to Excellence appeal during the summer term and whose gifts have helped to offer an ESMS education to those without the means.  We are pleased to announce there will be at least 25 pupils being supported by Access to Excellence from the start of term in August and applications are still being submitted and means tested throughout the summer break. 

In the meantime, we are working on a replacement for our ESMS Connect platform, which gives pupils and young alumni the opportunity to search for parents and established alumni who can offer careers guidance and support, as well as mentoring opportunities.  We hope to have this up and running and going through final tests in September, with a formal launch later in the term. 

And finally, we have been enjoying speaking to some of our young alumni about their career development. We had a lovely chat with Christina and Maxwell, which you will read elsewhere in this newsletter, about their steps after school and how they are pushing their careers forward in different ways.  We have also enjoyed reading the Collegian and Merchant Maiden and learning about all the many activities that have taken place across the schools this year.  

Suzi and Tania

P7 Challenge Training Update

The 26 children who will be walking the West Highland Way from 12 – 15 May have been out and about in recent weeks, training for the long days of walking ahead of them.

The children and their families have been busy at weekends getting out around the Pentlands and further afield on practice walks.  From the Fife coastal path and Loch Leven, to Loch Ossian and West Lomond, all are keen to ensure they are fit and ready for the Challenge ahead, walking 55 miles of the West Highland Way to raise money for Future Hope, a charity focussed on helping vulnerable street children in Kolkata, India.

The families tell us there are plans for further walks over the Easter break, summiting peaks across Scotland and even further afield on family holidays. 

Hannah Fraser (Muir), MES 2007, Partner at Thorntons Law LLP

What were your favourite subjects when you were at school?

PE (I played hockey at junior national level), Languages, History, English

When you left school, did you have a clear career path in mind?

Being completely honest, I didn’t! However, I did know that I wanted to work with people, help them and operate in a team environment.

Whilst studying, did you keep up with any extra-curricular activities that you enjoyed at school or did you follow new interests?  If so, how did you balance this with studying?

Throughout university, I continued to play hockey at a high level, in the top National 1 league. I also enjoy dance and kept up my involvement with a school for children with learning difficulties and their annual dance show.

Did you find it tough getting your first role after graduating or was the pathway quite straightforward?

It is a competitive market getting your traineeship but I was specific with the firms I applied to, I could show I was genuinely passionate about their ethics and values in my interview. I think my varied CV (curriculum and interests) helped – there are many people out there with a law degree when you are applying for a traineeship, so it is about what makes you and your CV stand out.

What do you like the most about your job?

Building relationships with my clients and colleagues.

What has been the most challenging part of your career so far?

The early days are tough – you are learning the job, your role, the office environment and especially how to manage your time efficiently while maintaining the work life balance – but that comes with experience…and I am still learning!

You mentioned that you had received support from some inspirational mentors, can you tell us more about this support and how you feel it has helped you to progress your career?

My mentors and supervisors have played a huge role in my career development and becoming a partner at a young age. They have opened doors for me that I will be forever grateful for.  

Do you have any advice for pupils at ESMS who might wish to follow a similar career path?

Be you; be open to opportunities and build up your CV with office/ legal experience where possible (explore summer internships); take yourself out your comfort zone; think about what makes you stand out and what you can do to be different, and believe in yourself!

What’s your fondest memory from your schooldays?

Friends, some of my best friends come from my school days. And I have lots of fond hockey memories too!

Alec Parry, SMC 1985, Royal Navy

Did you go on to study after school or did you go straight into the Navy?

I did, I went to UWIST (University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology).  I did a BSc in Maritime Geography there. Geography was my strongest subject at school and the maritime element was great. There was lots of time at sea doing hydrographic surveying, assessing fish stocks, understanding the physics of wave formation; all sorts of things – very different to a normal Geography degree.  I did my interview for the Navy when I was still at school. I was 17 when I came down to Gosport and I was selected for a Navy bursary, so I got a little bit of money to go to university. It didn’t cover all the costs, but it was enough to tide me over for a bit. Then I went straight into the Navy after that.

What attracted you to a career in the Royal Navy?

I always wanted to go into the Navy.  I’m quite lucky in that I didn’t struggle with what I wanted to do when I was young.  I grew up in Dalgety Bay from the age of four and our house overlooked the Forth.  My dad worked for the National Audit Office in the Rosyth dockyard when it was a naval base.  There were annual Navy days at Rosyth that we went along to where we could clamber all over the ships.  There were always ships going up and down the Forth which I could see from my house, so it was kind of hard to avoid the attraction. My next-door neighbour was always keen too. He joined a couple of years ahead of me and we are still great friends. I was a keen sailor as well, I was Captain of the sailing team when I was at school, and I used to race dinghies with my dad every weekend and then on my own in a Laser from my early teens. The only other option I considered was joining the Metropolitan Police, but in those days you couldn’t wear glasses and be in the Met so that sealed it for me and it was Navy all the way!

Did your experiences at school, e.g. CCF, influence your career choice?

They definitely did.  I was keen anyway, but CCF helped to reinforce that I was doing the right thing.  Although my reports may suggest otherwise, I enjoyed the structure and discipline at the school and that certainly helped when joining an organisation like the Navy. It’s not super strict discipline, but it is disciplined in that everyone knows what’s expected of them, how they are to behave and progress and that certainly helped.

Did you join the navy with a specific career path in mind or did that become clearer as you progressed through?

I knew what I was most interested in before I applied.  When you go for the Admiralty Interview Board, you are trying to be accepted for a particular branch: warfare; one of the many engineering disciplines; or logistics and I went for the latter. It was called Supply in those days – Supply and Secretariat i.e. all things logistics and people.  I guess in modern parlance that would equate to supply chain, finance, HR, legal, hotel services etc.  As you get more senior you soon develop into broader roles where your specialisation is less important.

Tell us the most interesting part of your career so far?

This is more difficult as I don’t know where to start – I feel like I sound like a poster boy.  I have had adventures all over the world from Hawaii in the west to New Zealand in the east; from north of the arctic circle and down to the Falklands.  I’ve been to dozens and dozens of countries. I’ve been on operations in Afghanistan, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and the Gulf plus exercises in numerous countries. I’ve conducted earthquake planning in Nepal, working with big charities and the Nepali government. I’ve done disaster relief operations and evacuations in Africa, led a liaison team in South America and spent time in the Atacama Desert with Chilean Marines. I’ve seen ships launched and sunk. I’ve worked alongside lots of foreign militaries and navies. I’ve been scared out of my wits on more than one occasion, and I even won a gold medal for competition cookery – that was pretty scary in itself! 

I’ve worked with all sorts of incredible people from local villagers to Princes and Presidents. Lots of people outside of the military too in industry and academia, in big charities and governments.  Every job has been completely different.  I would say the interesting bit is the variety of things I’ve managed to do. When you enter the Navy, you don’t know where you’re going to end up. It just depends on where your career takes you. I’ve just finished being the career manager for all the Captains and Colonels in the RN and Royal Marines which was a fantastic job in helping to shape and develop people’s careers.  Overall, I feel I’ve been very lucky and had some fantastic jobs over the last 33 years.

What did you like about working in the Royal Navy?

Being part of a team, the people you work with and for, and being challenged.  It’s not a 9-5 job where you turn up and you know what you’re going to do that day.  You’re always being pushed, as well as being fully supported.  As an Officer, in every job, you’re also responsible for supporting every member of your team, so you have to make sure you invest the time in their development, understanding and supporting their ambitions.  Having that responsibility is a real privilege.  I’ve been led by some really great people and there are a few whose leadership and lessons absolutely stick with me and have shaped how I live my life now. I like having to manage complexity and competing priorities; spinning multiple plates ensuring nothing falls to the ground. There’s no fat in the Navy, it’s all pretty lean, so everyone has to do their job, multitask and prioritise to be successful. 

What did you dislike about working in the Royal Navy?

Perhaps in the early years not knowing what you were going to do next, particularly when looking at starting a family e.g. not knowing if I was going to be working away and coming back on weekends, or if we were going to have to relocate again. However, it is part of the job and you do get used to it.  The Navy is very supportive of all the processes when you do have to move.

Tell me about the most challenging part of your career so far?

I would say that taking on new roles every 2-3 years is quite difficult as they can be very different to what you’ve done before. For example, in my first role as a Captain, I was running the UK’s network of Defence Attaches around the world, managing teams and supporting their families in over 90 countries.  That involved everything from selection and training, to provision of vehicles, housing, communications, security, allowances, medical support etc and with people all over the globe, no two days were ever the same. I loved going into work knowing that something was going to surprise me almost every day.  From that I came back to Portsmouth and with just a weekend in between, I was in a different role, working for three different bosses on several very different projects, including being the Programme Director for a £1.3billion shipbuilding project, ensuring we could support the new F35 Lightning II jet at sea, delivering new technology to the Navy such as 3-D printing on ships (not easy when it’s constantly moving about) and also being the lead liaison for a project with the American Navy. You always have to be prepared to throw yourself at jobs and learn quickly.

If you could give your younger self some advice, what would you say?

Enjoy every adventure, enjoy every job (even the dull bits) and don’t worry too much about the future.  Every path takes you in a different direction and looking back is a waste of time.  Many former pupils stay near Edinburgh or around Scotland and that ultimately suits them. I come back to Edinburgh once or twice a year, I absolutely love the place, but I’m glad I didn’t stay because the chance to travel and do something completely different has been amazing. Embrace everything because the good bits far outweigh any bad bits.

What are you thinking in terms of career development now that you’ve left the Navy?

My background is in operations, logistics and senior HR type of roles.  I’ve had such a diverse career it’s hard to work out what I’d be best at in the future.  For the first time in my life I’m quite uncertain about my next steps.  I’m very interested in working in the charity sector – I’m a Trustee for a local autism charity here in Hampshire.  I’m interested in continuing in public service.  I know what I don’t want, which is to make rich people richer.  I’m just not particularly motivated by profit.  There are so many opportunities out there, I just don’t know. I’ll admit, I’m finding it a challenge to refine what I want to do, after having been largely told for the last 33 years what I’m going to do.

Is there anything you’d like to say to our pupils who are perhaps considering a career in the Royal Navy?

I’d say to consider it seriously and find out more.  I think the Made in the Royal Navy adverts that you see on the TV, are excellent.  What they portray about the friendships, the adventure and the camaraderie is true to a greater or lesser extent depending on your branch and which ships you serve on.   They all show a pretty good variety of the options available and whatever you do in the RN, you will have experiences that few people get to enjoy and a lifetime of stories to tell.  I would say don’t worry about the training. It can be hard going for a short while, but it is a gateway to a very different life than if you stayed at home.  It certainly worked for me. It’s very popular, there are waiting lists for some branches and you have to be selected to get in but it’s definitely worth it.  ESMS will set you up well for it.