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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 11-Sep-06


Monday 11-September-06

Starting work

Today my daughter Heledd starts work. Not that she hasn't worked before, mind you. Five years in University have been spend sweating over many essays and presentations and she has given it her all in every account. Starting out in a full-time paid professional job is still a big step for her and she's a bit concerned, but that's natural and I know she'll do just fine.

After tough teenage years and dropping out after the first year of a Psychology degree -- she liked the subject and passed the exams, but hated the stats -- she took a gap year in which she found she could make thousand-pound sales and ended up as assistant manager of a furniture warehouse. Back in University, she did a B.A. in the History of Art and Architecture in nearby Reading. Despite a strong upper-second degree and voluntary work in places like National Trust, the V&A Museum and Christies, she still couldn't get a job so we agreed to fund another year, in which she lived at home and did a M.Sc. in International Management. Going from art history to Economics and Marketing was a big jump, but, as ever, she worked like a Trojan at it an eventually found that she really loved the subject.

And by March, she had a job lined up at a head-hunter's for September. Not that it was a walkover getting the position -- it took five interviews where, as you might expect, the head-hunter people knew how to probe and test in the third degree. They concluded that she was a potential star, which of course I could have told them.

She is intelligent but would be the first to admit she is no Einstein (unlike her genius of a boyfriend). She does have some very rare talents, however. First, she learns like nobody I know. She listens profoundly, questions deeply and absorbs, integrates and uses much that goes on around her. She exhausted her lecturers this last year but got very largely distinctions as a result.

A second talent is that she has real insight, putting two and two together when it is not obvious and seeing all kinds of potential. An example of this was in her dissertation on culture at HP, where she noted that Lew Platt, the genial CEO in the 90s perhaps got his very human approach from when he joined HP in the 60s around the time when nice-guy engineer Bill Hewlett took the helm (as tough-guy Dave Packard became President). These ripples in history led her to some wonderful conclusions and fascinating models that included elements from Taoism to Psychoanalysis.

She has also come a long way from those frail and truculent earlier years and is now a confident and likable adult who can hold her own in any company. She's a great listener, which is perhaps the most important social skill and thoughtful and engaging in conversation -- another talent that will serve her well.

And today she starts out, suited and booted to earn a real crust of her own. Not before time, perhaps, but I am immensely proud of her achievements so far and know she will continue to soar.

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