Guildhall Panel Breakfast

On Thursday last week, I attended the International Women’s Day Panel Breakfast hosted by Dame Susan Langley at the Old Library in Guildhall. It was a great event with a mixed panel of speakers and a wide-ranging audience, as reflected in the Q&A session.

It made me think about my career – about things I was told. I went to an all-girls school whose headmistress told me in my exit interview (I was leaving to go to an all-boys school that took girls in the 6th form: they had a proven track record in teaching economics, which I would need for my career) that they only wanted girls there to teach the boys manners. Fast forward to working in the City and numerous comments and conversations where being female was meant to limit what I could do. I didn’t let it – whether it was due to youth, ignoring the message or determination to succeed, who knows, but I made it to fund manager and client director. It also didn’t stop the concurrent voluntary work I did with a rape and sexual abuse support centre, which raised eyebrows, to say the least. And it didn’t stop me from having children late, changing my career, or being a director at a grassroots football club and now a member of the London FA Council.

I have never understood why being female was an issue to some people, why equality is threatening and why you should conform to the constraints others put on you: underestimating people – male or female – is folly, and raising people up is surely only a positive.

Being the Clerk to the Paviors affords me the great privilege of working with a huge variety of people with an amazing array of skills, all with the common trait of the belief in our core values – fellowship and philanthropy, as well as being able to take part in the Lord Mayor’s Show with the famous Paviors Pig (see picture). After years of investing money for clients to help pay for capital projects and explaining how we made those decisions, I now get to see first-hand how investing in people via our charity, The London Construction Academy, and other educational charities can make such a big impact. Working together to lift people benefits all – not only this generation but also those to come.

Jenn Athill
Clerk, Worshipful Company of Pavior