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HORIZONS our global outlook

Who knows where life will lead you … I never imagined a year ago I would be out here, but I am and I’m loving it.

Preparing world-ready women This is, I hope you will agree, one of the

She believed in a school where

most exciting publications that we have

the individual was valued and where

put together. Our girls are preparing to

a strong sense of community was

take their place on a global stage and

engendered. This publication shows

the personal stories and advice included

how we hold fast to these founding

here will, I know, give them and our

principles and deliver the highest

alumnae inspiration, and remind us

quality of education for our girls

all that there is nothing that a Downe

by going beyond the expectations

House girl cannot do!

of examinations and extending our

Cover image: Dr Lucy King (DH 2008)

Our founder, Olive Willis, believed that excellence, excitement and enthusiasm for the world around us should be

curriculum to broaden horizons and prepare our girls to be women ready for the world and workplace.

hallmarks of a school community.

Mrs Emma McKendrick, Headmistress


Broadening horizons Children are growing up in an ever changing world. Many will flourish in careers that extend across the globe and we have a responsibility to prepare them for that. Their path to success requires confidence, empathy, independence, the ability to lead, integrity and an instinct to achieve. We aim not only to give our girls the skills to succeed at Downe and beyond, but also to give them a sense of global citizenship, of international awareness and a commitment to the wider community. To that end, our teaching is tailored to offer girls a broad and balanced curriculum. Through outstanding teaching and a wealth of co-curricular activities, we develop potential from within, encouraging each girl to grow in confidence and flourish both personally and academically. Our programme for preparing girls for ‘Life Beyond Downe’ includes Global Citizenship, Community Service, extensive career and university advice, our lecture and enrichment programme and support through the Downe House Foundation. The Foundation Office connects girls and parents, past and present, by bringing them together both socially and professionally. We aim to make our students aware of the wider world and have a sense of their own role as a world citizen. This is combined with our extensive Higher Education and guidance programme supporting girls in making the right career and university choices, be it in the UK or around the globe. Downe House has a dedicated Higher Education and Global Initiatives Department to ensure that they are up to date with the latest thinking in this field. The Higher Education process at Downe begins early and is both comprehensive and thorough in its approach. Our girls leave Downe House ready to play their part in the world, ready not only to grasp opportunities for themselves, but to also create them for others. 4

Destination global Higher Education is all about personal choice and individuality. It is for this reason that each girl has a tailor-made experience which will support her throughout and meet her needs. We have experience of sending girls for their further education as far afield as to Australia, the USA, Hong Kong, Canada and to universities across Europe including Trinity Dublin and the American University of Paris.

Mrs Sarah Barnard Overseas Universities Advisor

The process for assisting our girls in applying to overseas colleges and universities begins in earnest in the Lower Sixth. Girls in the Fifth Form are given information about how the process will work for them once they reach this stage at the biennial Higher Education Forum, where external experts are invited to speak to the girls. The girls are supported according to the specific demands of their Higher Education application by the Higher Education and Global Initiatives team, their Housemistress, the Head of Sixth Form and their personal tutor. To date, girls have gone on to attain qualifications at University of Melbourne, Monash University, Princeton, Brown, Harvard, Columbia, Georgetown, NYU, UCLA, USC, UPenn, Wesleyan, George Washington, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, Northeastern, Barnard, Trinity Dublin, Wake Forest, Richmond, CalTech and Miami. Girls have also pursued Art based courses at Parsons, the Lee Strasburg Institute, the New York Film Academy and the Institute for the Arts, Chicago. 5

International links Each Boarding House seeks to uphold the notion of internationalism in all that they do every day, both to celebrate the diversity of girls we have in the houses as well as to broaden the girls’ outlook on life. Globalisation is an ever more tangible notion in today’s world and our daily lives at the school should seek to prepare the girls for this. Celebrating the cultural diversity of the girls in the House will develop girls with greater cultural sensitivity and an innate understanding of the need to respect people of all backgrounds. We seek to begin the process of creating young people who will thrive in a multicultural world and be comfortable in all communities and places they may spend time in. Our Boarding Houses have also established links with schools and charitable organisations around the world. Houses take the lead in collecting money or equipment on behalf of the schools, as well as corresponding with them. Small groups of girls have also visited some of our link schools and charitable organisations to provide support and to become part of their community to experience


the world beyond Downe. These include secondary schools in Malaysia and Botswana, a clinic ship on Lake Malawi, a care home for disabled children in Romania, Tiger Kloof in South Africa and a primary school in India. The association and endeavours to support these respective links feed into many House events and activities throughout the school year.

Case Study – Sparkes Home, Sri Lanka (Ancren Gate North)

Girls from the different Houses have the opportunity to go and visit their link institutions. Trips such as these help girls on their way to becoming infinitely adaptable, fearless, wise and confident international citizens in a world which seems ever smaller by virtue of it all being increasingly accessible. They learn the value of service, gain an understanding of the different cultures and develop, we hope, a sense of their own good fortune. Charitable fund raising initiatives across all our Boarding Houses throughout the year engender the notion of altruism, service, giving and responsibility among the girls.

The Sparkes Home Sri Lanka houses 40 girls and is situated in the village of Kallar, south of Batticaloa, a Tamil area, on the east coast of Sri Lanka. The girls are aged from 6 years upwards and are either victims of the 2004 tsunami, victims of the recent civil war or from families who are so poor they cannot afford to keep their children. The Home is run by the Methodist Church which donated the land to build the home in 2005 and money was raised by the Sparkes family and their friends.

The girls and parents of AGN have formed a strong bond with their link charity in Sri Lanka Sparkes Home. Thousands of pounds have been raised by the House to fund development projects and improve the lives of the girls at the Home.

A group of AGN girls and staff will visit the Home in 2015.


Alumnae around the globe We are very fortunate to have such a diverse and supportive alumnae community that is committed to giving something back to Downe House from wherever they are around the world. We know that this energy and enthusiasm of which we are so proud has the power to inspire many pupils to follow their dreams and aspirations, wherever it takes them, whether for further study or work. 


A professional network for life Building on these relationships, the DH LINKS initiative offers networking links and a focal point for careers-based knowledge, guidance and information. Importantly, DH LINKS has now become a familiar ‘buzz-word’ amongst the Downe House community and has been hugely successful at linking together girls, alumnae and parents for careers and professional networking around the globe. We have had a large number of alumnae and parents join DH LINKS which has resulted in a wealth of work shadowing and internship opportunities, and has enabled us to launch our industry specific cluster groups, giving Downe House girls invaluable real-world experience to support their decision-making and career pathways.



What are you doing now?  Postdoctoral researcher studying coral reef fish ecology. Main ambitions as a 16 year old?  To become a marine biologist and a SCUBA diving guide. A Levels  Biology, Chemistry, Maths, General Studies and Photography.  Did you take a gap year?  Yes, I volunteered on a diving conservation project in Belize studying the state of the coral reefs for three months.  I then went to Ecuador and studied at a Spanish school for a month before volunteering on an example permaculture farm in northern Ecuador for three months.  I then returned home for a while and worked before heading to the Philippines to travel for three months. Qualifications  First Class BSc (Hons) in Oceanography with Marine Biology from University of Southampton. Masters of Applied Science in Tropical Marine Ecology and Fisheries from James Cook University, Australia. Masters of Education from Charles Sturt University, Australia. Postgraduate Certificate in Statistics from Charles Sturt University, Australia. PhD (Cum Laude) in Coral Reef Ecology from the Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, Australia. 


Career path since graduating  Whilst studying for my Masters of Applied Science and in the following years I worked as a diving instructor in Australia. I moved to the Seychelles and worked for Global Vision International, teaching members of the public and people on their gap year how to survey coral reefs, monitor corals and count reef fish.  I then worked as an associate lecturer teaching marine biology and oceanography to first year university students aboard a school ship in the Caribbean and in the Indo-Pacific.  In 2009 I moved to a research position at James Cook University in Australia, where I have worked as a research assistant, PhD candidate, and am now a postdoctoral researcher. Future plans  Who knows ... there are so many opportunities that I don’t even know about yet.  Words of advice  Having a loose plan is always good, but be open to opportunities as they arise. You never know who you are going to meet or what you are going to experience. Don’t underestimate the importance of a good skill base, as they may help you get a job in all sorts of different places.  For example, I got a job working as a marine biologist because I could also teach diving.  Skills like speaking a language or maths or being able to build a website, may help you get a job in a new location, even when you are not experienced in other areas.


What are you doing now?  Running my own startup business designing beautiful, dignified, adapted clothing for people in hospital or long term care. Main ambitions as a 16 year old?  To be a lawyer or a teacher! A Levels  English, Politics, Religious Studies and General Studies. Did you take a gap year?  Yes - I packed piston rings in a factory for six months to pay for a wonderful four months in Cape Town travelling, doing auxiliary nursing and being a waitress, then two months on a Bedford 4 tonne truck going from the west coast of Namibia to the east coast of Tanzania. Excellent fun. Qualifications  BA Hons in Philosophy.

Languages are a wonderful asset in life.

Career path since graduating  Nearly 20 years in PR before finally starting up my own business in something completely different. Future plans  To disrupt the hospital clothing industry, abolish the hospital gown, give people dignity and self respect when they’re fighting ill-health, and have a really good time.  I have two children so we have plenty of adventures planned too. Words of advice  Study languages!!!  There is nothing more frustrating than missing opportunities because your language skills are not sufficient to follow it up.  My two business partners speak three and four languages each.  If it weren’t for them we would never have been able to get our business underway.  I am in awe of them, I envy them, and I wish I had pursued languages to a higher level.  They are a wonderful asset in life. 



Where in the world are you now?  London, I just got back from Beijing last September. In total I’ve studied or worked in seven different countries and I hope to live abroad again in the next five years or so. What are you doing now?  I’m currently studying for an MSc in Economics and Strategy for Business at Imperial College London. I’ve just accepted a job offer to work as a Strategy Consulting Analyst at Monitor Deloitte starting in September 2015. Main ambitions as a 16 year old?  Going into business and then maybe politics when I was older. I’ll always remember a conversation aged 16 that I had with two of my best friends from Downe (who are still two of my best friends to this day!) where we decided that one of us was going to be a doctor, one was going to be a lawyer and I was going to be a businesswoman. 7 years on and we were very accurate. A Levels  French, History and Politics.


Did you take a gap year?  I went straight to university after School but spent university holidays working, Interrailing around Europe and travelling through Russia, Mongolia and China on the Trans-Mongolian Railway. Qualifications  Chinese and Economics at the School of Oriental and African Studies. I am currently studying for a Masters in Economics and Strategy for Business at Imperial College Business School.

Career path since graduating  After graduating I did an internship at The Guardian developing a market growth strategy. Then I worked for a year at the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy in Beijing promoting the UK education sector in China. My highlight was working as the support point for the People to People Dialogue, which is one of the three annual strategic dialogues between China and the UK and is led by Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health. Future plans  In the long term, I hope to either to run a company or set up my own! I’m still very interested in politics. Words of advice  Listen to people’s advice and thank them for it but always do your own research and make up your own mind. You are the best judge of what is right for you and the world is a lot more exciting when it is full of diverse people who have their own ideas. Applying this to living as an expat, when I first moved out to Beijing on my year abroad I was told I would be able to buy shoes. I wish I had done some more research as I’m am a size 7 and you can’t buy any size 7 shoes in Beijing!


What are you doing now?  Account Director/ Consultant with a small Internal Communications Agency in Geneva.

Future plans  I have taken on more freelance communications roles, I am possibly looking at a job change ... work environment permitting!

Main ambitions as a 16 year old?  I don’t really remember having a clear idea of what I wanted to do to be honest, but I knew it would involve travel, art and sports.

Words of advice  Travelling and working abroad offers many wonderful and exciting opportunities; visiting new parts of the world and discovering new cultures and new ways of doing things and, of course, new languages. I never imagined I would be raising bilingual children and participating in the numerous wonderful outdoor activities available

A Levels  Art, Geography and Religious Studies. Did you take a gap year?  No. Qualifications  Fine Art Painting BA Hons (UWIC / Cardiff), Arts Administration Post Graduate Diploma (City University, London)

to us in the Alps. I have also learnt a considerable amount working with the broad mix of cultures in Geneva. My life has never been as well balanced as it is now: family, work, sports, friends, etc...

Career path since graduating  I worked in the Fine Arts world for various publicly funded arts institutions including The Arts Council and The Wallace Collection (London), for approximately 4 years. I moved to BP as an Events Manager and then as a Communications Manager for 8 years and then I moved to Annecy, France (on the Swiss border) and have been working in Communications in Geneva for 5 years.



Creating opportunities for girls to gain experience in the world of work is invaluable as they begin to think about life after Downe House and the careers that may be fulfilling for them. Charlotte Whitehead, UVI, recently took the opportunity to work with Katharine Bernet, née Usher (DH 1988) at the ICC in Paris. Charlotte had a fantastic experience. In her words: ‘My week at the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris was both insightful and rewarding. I was able to meet people of different nationalities, which exposed me to a multilingual environment. I really enjoyed being able to work in different sectors, making use of my French, from publishing to events managing. It was all fascinating but particularly the marketing sector and I learnt a lot from my time there. I also appreciated the chance to meet Katherine, a Downe House alumna, who offered me this opportunity after getting in touch with DH LINKS. The experience proved hugely useful and valuable, helping me to gain understanding.’ Mrs Bernet found it a great pleasure to have Charlotte at ICC for her work experience.

I think DH LINKS is a wonderful initiative, it gives pupils access to a wealth of professional contacts in so many different fields all over the UK and abroad, and we all have Downe House in common. It was a pleasure to be able to give Charlie this opportunity as I know how hard it can be to find work experience and it is so often through people you know. DH LINKS opens the door to a unique network and I would be very happy to offer my support again.

FRANCE Katharine Bernet (DH 1988) Project Manager, Training and Conferences/Institute of World Business Law


Christy Powell (Murray, DH 1989) WRITER, HONG KONG

What are you doing now?  I am a writer.

Bar. I have a travel guide called The Spoilt Brat’s Guide (sold on iBooks). I write a weekly blog called Just a Bit Confuscius and I’ve just started writing my next book. All sounds great except there’s virtually no money in it!

Main ambitions as a 16 year old?  I wanted to be a journalist or work in TV. A Levels  English, Economics and Geography.

Future plans  Keep writing books.

Sketches by Jennifer Murray (Mather, DH 1957)

Did you take a gap year?  Yes. I studied Spanish in Madrid for the first 3 months. I then went to Mexico for 8 months where I helped out in a very remote village in the Sierra Norte Mountains. There was no electricity or running water, no cars and no one spoke a word of English. It was very tough and I almost left on many occasions. In the end I stuck it out. After 8 months I could speak fluent Spanish and I had learnt to value my own company. It was an intensely lonely experience but one I wouldn’t change. Then, I met up with friends and travelled around Mexico, Guatemala and Belize – brilliant fun! Qualifications  I went to Brown University in Rhode Island where I got my undergraduate degree in Comparative Literature and Spanish. Career path since graduating  I worked for Chris Evan’s on TFIF. Then I moved to work for Selina Scott at ITN and on to SKY TV. I then left (disillusioned by the TV world) and went to Conde Nast. Two years later I left the magazine world to set up my own chain of American Style Nail Bars in London. I opened 5 shops and then sold the company. Shortly afterwards we moved to Hong Kong. Since then I have been pursuing a writing career: I published a book in 2012, called News from the Nail

Words of advice  If you get a chance to work or study abroad, take it. Don’t stay in England because you know it and it’s safe. You never want to be someone who stayed on the path, you want to be the person who went off the path and made your own tracks. When you return to England, you will also stand out for having done something different and people will want to hear about your experiences; you are considered more worldly and often more employable. I think the most important thing you can do is learn the language. In Hong Kong I didn’t need to speak Cantonese to live and get by but I started learning it last year and the difference it has made to how I am perceived here is huge - I’ve gone from “Gweilo” (white devil) to local. What I love/find challenging about living abroad is that you are constantly aware that the majority of people may have a very different point of view to your own and you are the one who has to be flexible. It’s not always easy but it’s character building stuff.

HONG KONG Finally, if you’ve lived in England all your life, go and work abroad, even if it’s just to get some sunshine!



Why did you choose to look for an internship in Hong Kong?  I actually wanted to work on a safari park in Africa during my 6 months between law school and work! However, Hong Kong was always somewhere I’d wanted to go, as both of my parents had grown up there. My decision was made for me when, having trailed through numerous websites, there was an upload on Downe House Alumnae’s Facebook page simply saying ‘Internship in Hong Kong, contact if interested’. So I did! Whilst in Hong Kong, the Alumnae group also encouraged me to contact the Hong Kong office of the law firm I was due to join in London. I spent a day at their offices and was asked to join their Christmas Party. I was also able to schedule meetings with a few partners, including some Downe House parents, to glean some information from them. I made some connections with the Hong Kong offices which may stand me in good stead should I want to come out here on secondment in the future!

What is the most important lesson you have learned about work/culture in Hong Kong?  Undoubtedly my biggest impression of Hong Kong, compared to living and working in London, is how welcoming and open people are to new people arriving. With a high turnover of newcomers and people returning to the UK, Hong Kong is the easiest place to come and live, even if only for three months. It is the epitome of work hard, play hard – there is no concept of saving money and staying in. People work long hours and make sure they make the most of their weekends. I went on numerous island trips, boat parties and visits to some of those renowned rooftop bars with their ever impressive views across the harbour. In London we seem to feel like the weekends are for recovery so not that much ever happens – here, it’s the opposite! Has it helped and/or made any difference that this opportunity was offered by a fellow DH alumna?  There is no doubt that it has helped that Lucy Jackson, my boss and director/co-founder of Lightfoot Travel, is also a DH alumna. Knowing that she had spent five years at Downe meant that I felt comfortable and a lot less nervous on my first day at work! Rather than arriving in an office of people I had nothing in common with, there was immediately an easy conversation starter. I definitely feel as though I can contact Lucy if I ever needed to out here – and in not just a strictly professional sense. Her cousin, another Downe House alumna who I knew, came out to visit and whilst here got a job as a jewellery designer – the Downe House Hong Kong alumnae group is growing!



What are you doing now?  Co-founder & Director of a tailormade travel company - Lightfoot Travel – with offices based in Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai. Main ambitions as a 16 year old?  I was unsure of career path at Sixth Form as I was more focussed on the next step of University and planning my Gap Year – I was always into travelling! A Levels  Economics, Politics, Geography and General Studies. Did you take a gap year?  I spent the first part of my gap year doing Queens Secretarial Course to improve my touch typing and general administration skills, followed by work at a commercial espionage company as a PA and waitressing by night – all in the efforts of paying for my planned travels. I did a short Christmas stint at Fortnum and Mason prior to embarking on an 8 month odyssey around Latin America, starting with Raleigh International adding a charitable aspect to my trip. Qualifications  2:1 BA Hons in Sociology at Newcastle University. Career path since graduating  My career path started with multiple work experience stints in varying industries so that I could get an idea of where my interest lay. I started at BskyB Media doing Business Development and Marketing. After a year I embarked

in the travel industry, working as a sales consultant for a well known tailormade travel company selling holidays. I moved across to another company in London to set up their long-haul division and eventually set up Lightfoot Travel in Hong Kong, having identified a gap in the market beyond the traditional travel agent that existed. Future plans  The Lightfoot plan is to aim for an increase in EBITDA and move into ‘emerging’ markets beyond Hong Kong and Singapore. We set up Dubai earlier this year and will look to other opportunities within Asia to grow our market share. We are always open to opportunities so although we have a future plan it’s also good to stay flexible in the current situation. Words of advice  Be open and inquisitive wherever you live in the world. The rewards are vast if you listen to what opportunities are out there. I try to maintain my network despite living abroad and to be a good friend where I can be – although I could always improve on this.



Where in the world are you now?  I live in the south of India, in Chennai, (formerly known as Madras). I first arrived the year of the South Asian Tsunami – 2004, working for an NGO. A year later I switched careers and began working as a journalist and met and married my husband. We had our daughter in 2011. What are you doing now?  Lapsed journalist and the mother of a three year old. Main ambitions as a 16 year old?  I only knew I wanted to do something different with my life, to take the path less travelled. A Levels  History, English, Spanish and French AS. Did you take a gap year?  No. But I took a year out after university instead. I had a much better idea of what I wanted to do at 21; I got much more out of that year than I would have done at 18. Qualifications  MA (Cantab) History, Trinity College Cambridge. MSc Political Theory, London School of Economics. MA Investigative Journalism, City University, London


Career path since graduating  I volunteered with Restless Development (formerly SPW) in Nepal, in 2002 working on a youth empowerment program in a rural community. It fundamentally changed my outlook on life. After completing a Masters in Political Theory at LSE I

went back Restless Development. I visited India in 2004 and realised that was where I wanted to be; in August 2005 I moved. In India I subedited for news magazine Frontline; a fantastic way to learn a lot about India with rapidity, depth and clarity on some complex issues facing the nation at the time. In 2007 I moved to the daily newspaper The Hindu. I went back to City University London to do an MA in Investigative Journalism in 2008, graduating in 2009. I married and came back to live in India and began work again in 2011, in a team working in secret on a set of documents from Julian Assange (The India Cables Wikileaks investigation). Future plans Hopefully will include getting back to work. We are thinking of moving back to the UK as a family shortly. Words of advice  Use your university holidays to try every career you are interested in. They are long breaks full of opportunities. Travel with a purpose – a project or piece of research, that way you get under the skin of place you are going. Think long term and be as good as your word; people will value you if you can display integrity. Learn the language; reading and writing doesn’t matter so much as being able to converse. Learn to expect the unexpected!


Where in the world are you now?  I am living in Mumbai, working for a charity called Reality Gives. What are you doing now?  I am Director of Quality Improvement at a Primary School in Dharavi (the second largest slum in India). Main ambitions as a 16 year old?  When I was 16, I would have never believed I would end up being a teacher or working within education (I am sure some teachers can vouch for that too), I’m not sure I could see beyond A levels! A Levels  I studied Philosophy, French and Drama. Did you take a gap year?  Yes, I travelled with some other Downe House girls round South America and South East Asia. We volunteered in an orphanage in Rio de Janiero – apart from that there was a lot of sunbathing and sightseeing. Qualifications  I studied Philosophy at Leeds and got a 2:1, and then I did my PGCE through School Direct (training whilst teaching), and qualified as an ‘Outstanding’ teacher. Career path since graduating  I trained as a teacher and taught within the ARK network, and then I moved to India this September.

Future plans  I plan on staying out here for (at least) the next Indian academic year, in order to implement all the changes that I want to make in the school and the new curriculum that I am currently writing. After India, I will go back to England and most likely continue to teach and manage within the ARK network (I would love to run an English primary school in a disadvantaged area one day). Who knows where life will lead you though, I never imagined a year ago I would be out here, but I am and I’m loving it. Words of advice  It’s a big and daunting experience to move abroad, however there will never be a ‘right time’ to do it. It has hands down been the best experience I have had in my life so far. I have learnt a lot about the world, but also about myself. Even though ex-pat life can sometimes be quite difficult (especially in a third world country, and with very little money), but for me, the job makes it worthwhile. I love what I do, the people I work with and ultimately all the children I am helping. I would advise everyone to spend time in their life living abroad!


Dr Lucy King (DH 1995) ELEPHANTS AND BEES PROJECT LEADER HEAD OF HUMAN-ELEPHANT CONFLICT PROGRAMME, SAVE THE ELEPHANTS, NAIROBI, AFRICA Where in the world are you now?  I live in Nairobi, Kenya but work in several game parks and reserves around the country in my day to day work. What are you doing now?  I am the Head of the Human-Elephant Conflict Program for Save the Elephants and specifically founded and manage The Elephants and Bees Project helping farmers live more successfully with elephants. Main ambitions as a 16 year old?  I wanted to be a wildlife film maker and live in a game reserve! Most of that has come true although I tend to have visiting film makers come to my project site rather than me making wildlife films personally. Turns out that making wildlife films is really skilled, hard work!  A Levels  Biology, Geography, English, General Studies and Photography. Did you take a gap year?  Yes, I worked as a waitress for 6 months then travelled and explored Kenya, India and Nepal for the rest of my gap year. Qualifications  BSc in Zoology (Bristol University), MSc in Biology Integrative Bioscience (Oxford, Balliol College), PhD in Zoology (Oxford, Balliol College).


Career path since graduating  I worked for a gap year company, Quest Overseas for 5 years running Quest Africa, I then returned to University to do my MSc and PhD with Save the Elephants in Kenya and now I live and work in Kenya running Save the Elephants’ Human-Elephant Conflict Program. Future plans  I’m very happy living in sunny Kenya and helping to protect incredible elephants where we work. Words of advice  Definitely go and live abroad once in your life - it’s different from travelling where every day is a holiday or an adventure. Living in an overseas country really gives you a proper taste of the essence of a country and you will either have a great time, absorb new cultures and head home better experienced, or you will fall in love with the place, find a way of life that suits you to your very soul, and never leave! Either experience is valuable and life changing so don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try living abroad at least once! 


What are you doing now?  Customer Success Manager, specialising in Risk, for a financial reporting software company. Main ambitions as a 16 year old?  I wanted to study languages or anthropology at university but I wasn’t sure where. My future ambition was to be a Diplomat or an Ambassador. A Levels  French, Spanish, Politics, General Studies and Philosophy AS. I also did Young Enterprise and volunteered at Castle School. Did you take a gap year?  Yes, I first worked for 6 months to earn money for my travels; in a shirt shop, as a PA and as a film extra in London! I then travelled Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Bolivia and Peru for 4 months. Qualifications  BA Hons Language and Culture at University College London, taking up a ‘less widely spoken’ language from scratch and also studying a language already taken; I chose Dutch and French. My third year was spent at the University of Leiden, Netherlands.

My first role was a Customer Success Expert, answering customer calls and emails. I quickly moved to Customer Success Manager with my own portfolio of customers. I specialised in Risk Reporting, and I am now the Risk Expert for Europe, holding regular training and meetings in Zurich and London and giving presentations to my team and to Senior Management. We are a rapidly growing team and have just gone public on the NYSE so it is very exciting times! Future plans  I still hope to one day become an Ambassador, work for the embassy or consulate or be involved in international relations of some kind. For the moment though, I am happy where I am. I wake up every day wanting to go to work and really enjoying what I do. So who knows what the future holds! Words of advice  Take every opportunity you are offered, go outside your comfort zone. Think outside the box and never turn down an opportunity - I had no idea that jobs like mine existed, let alone that I’d end up in software. If it doesn’t work out, you can easily move back but it’s definitely worth trying it out at some point in your life. Be impulsive and just go for it, it’s the best experience and you can learn a lot from it. You might even end up staying! 


Career path since graduating  I made an impulsive decision to move to Amsterdam on a night out in my final year at university and as soon as I graduated I moved here and started looking for jobs. I was the 2nd person hired by an American software company which had just opened its first European office in Amsterdam.


Annie Krasiñska (Molesworth-St Aubyn, DH 1988) HEAD OF POLAND OFFICE, REGIONAL PR COMPANY, POLAND

What are you doing now?  Running the Polish office of a regional PR company. Main ambitions as a 16 year old?  I wanted to study Economics at Cambridge and join the Foreign Office. A Levels  Maths, French and English. Did you take a gap year?  Yes, I taught English in a Tibetan refugee camp in North India for 3 months; learnt to type! Worked as a temp for 6 months; went Inter-railing round France and Italy for 1.5 months. Qualifications  BA Hons Economics, Cambridge. Career path since graduating  Foreign & Commonwealth Office (1991-1999; 1996-1999 Political Section, British Embassy Warsaw); 20012006 owner and CEO of own relocation company, Warsaw; 2006-2009 Polish companies’ analyst, Wood & Company (Prague & Warsaw); 2009-2011 Associate Director, investment banking Wood & Company (Warsaw); 2012-present, Country Manager Cook Communications (Warsaw).


Future plans  Continue to expand the Polish business over the coming years. Also starting to retrain as a scientist, with IGCSEs in Biology and Chemistry during summer 2015! Words of advice  Being abroad – whether studying, working or living – is a most rewarding experience, although it is by no means for everyone.  Even after nearly 20 years, the cultural differences alternately delight and jar – largely depending on one’s own mood.  Learning the language is the best way to get the most out of spending time in a country and be sure to get out of the capital, visit a supermarket, a school, a hospital and a cemetery; this will give you a good grounding in your hosts’ lifestyle.  If you are working abroad (wherever – even in places like France or the US), make sure you ask your employer to organise a few hours cross-cultural training – you’ll avoid a load of faux pas from the outset and it will help you make sense of your colleagues’ actions.


What are you doing now?  Online retail: head of gift registries for Main ambitions as a 16 year old?  Get a great job in something I was genuinely interested in. A Levels  French, Spanish and History of Art. Did you take a gap year?  Yes. I worked in London to save money for 4 months; then undertook the John Hall art history course in Venice, Florence and Rome for 3 months, then spent 7 months travelling in the USA. Qualifications  University of Edinburgh - MA in History of Art. Career path since graduating  Large Smith and Walford brand development agency (20002002); [moved to South Africa 2002]; various contracted marketing positions (2003-2004); Teamworks advertising agency (2004-2007); self employed with own online businesses - an online gift registry and upmarket gifting site (2007-2013); Sold my business to (South Africa’s leading e-commerce business) and joined them as Head of Registries and Gifting (Nov 2013 - present). Future plans  Stay in the Cape as long as we can!

Words of advice  Do it, it’s a wonderful thing and we must all broaden our minds!


We must all broaden our minds!



What are you doing now?  I work for a company which sells football TV rights, specifically to the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League. Main ambitions as a 16 year old?  I wanted to study modern languages at university and be an interpreter. A Levels  Italian, French and Latin. Qualifications  1st class degree with distinction in both spoken Italian and French from Edinburgh University. Career path since graduating  I worked for BBC Worldwide selling TV rights in Scandinavia. I then moved into acquisitions, before being headhunted for the job in Switzerland. Future plans  I am happy in this company and have good prospects for further promotions. But you never know, watch this space! Words of advice  Studying abroad is almost essential I would say. It gives you a rare insight into another country’s customs and leaves you more ‘complete’ as an individual. Working abroad as in travelling abroad for work is less glamorous, it’s often just moving from an airport to a hotel to a conference room/meeting room – you rarely get to see much of the country where are you travelling. Living abroad is the best – but it’s not for everyone. Being away from family and friends is tough at times, but if you are an open-minded person and manage to integrate into where you are living, then you would be fine. I’ve been in Switzerland for four and a half years now and been very happy there, I can’t see myself moving back to the UK any time soon.



What are you doing now?  Head of HR, Asia Pacific, Cabot Microelectronics. Main ambitions as a 16 year old?  Not sure I had any beyond getting in to Cambridge.     A Levels  English, History and Latin. Did you take a gap year?  Yes. I taught English to Tibetan refugees in India for a year.   Qualifications  MA in Social & Political Science from Cambridge. Career path since graduating  10 years with a headhunting company that was bought by Korn Ferry after I left. 4 years in the UK, then 5 years in NYC (took a year’s sabbatical to travel across China in 2000).  Joined a start up providing information to executives running MNCs in emerging markets in 2007 as part of the founding team (based in Los Angeles) and helped grow it from 4 people and no revenue to 100+ people and c$20m in revenue by 2012, when I moved to Singapore with them.  Left to take a 9 month sabbatical, to lie on a beach and find my grandfather’s birthplace in Burma, and then relocated to join CMC in Taiwan (my current company), whose VP Asia had been a client of my previous firm in Jan 2013.  

Future plans  Likely to relocate to Singapore in 2015 as Taiwan has limited opportunities for my husband who will be leaving his current assignment in Kabul shortly. Words of advice  Work / travel / study abroad whenever you can, ideally alone - going with friends from home will provide you with a security blanket that will prevent immersion. Don’t head for the beaches and the full moon parties, if you can go to the mountains and volunteer. Read the literature of wherever you go, learn the history. Talk to the locals you meet, not your friends through your phone.  Never drink with strangers. Always learn to say please and thank you in the local language. Remember that wherever you go, you take yourself. Being abroad changes nothing except your surroundings. Never go abroad to try and “fix” something in a relationship or yourself - you will simply be unhappy without a support network, and those are the people who fall apart. Seize the opportunities as they come, very few people regret working abroad.   


Seize the opportunities as they come…


Fiona Davies (DH 1991) ECONOMIST, UGANDA

What are you doing now?  Economist specialising in fragile states. Main ambitions as a 16 year old?  I think I wanted to be a lawyer. A Levels  English, History, Latin and French AS. Did you take a gap year?  I worked in Paris, taught in Nepal and travelled to China and Pakistan. Qualifications  BA English Language/Literature from Oxford (New College), Post Graduate Certificate in Economics and MSc Economics from London (Birkbeck College). Career path since graduating  Four years working for the Confederation of British Industry in London as a policy adviser; a year working in energy markets with Enron Europe; five years as a macroeconomic adviser in the Ministry of Finance in Uganda; four years as an economic adviser in the Ministry of Finance in South Sudan; a year as the UN economist in Burundi; two years in the Prime Minister’s office in Uganda, working on the recovery of Northern Uganda; and now a consultant, mainly working with government in South Sudan, DRC and Somalia, while also doing research for the Overseas Development Institute.


Future plans  If you are intending to go somewhere that is less developed than the UK, consider beforehand whether you think you can adapt to the challenges, and do without some of the things you probably take for granted - e.g. fast internet access, reliable electricity supply - as well as the different climate, distance from friends/family, cultural differences, etc.      


What are you doing now?  Mainly a housewife (2 children aged 1 & 3). Also Organiser and Communications Director of TEDxBasel (sadly unpaid!) Main ambitions as a 16 year old?  I wanted to live in New York (I didn’t care with what job). I found an internship programme in New York and so attained my goal! A Levels  English, History and French. Did you take a gap year?  I worked at home in Scotland for 6 months working in a bank by day and pub by night to fund a GAP Activity Projects placement in Brazil. I worked in Olinda (North East Brazil) teaching English for 5 months, then travelled around South America for 3 months. When in Scotland I also did a 6 week cooking course and did cooking jobs throughout university holidays to help fund university. Qualifications  BA in History from Durham (College of St Hild & St Bede), Masters in International Political Economy from Bilgi University in Istanbul. Career path since graduating  Very varied and influenced mainly by location and opportunities that became available rather than a planned career path. 1 year internship with Mountbatten Institute, New York, at the British Memorial Garden (now known as the Queen Elizabeth II Garden) commemorating the victims of 9/11. 2 years administrative and executive search

roles in Edinburgh and New York. 2 years in Turkey doing a Masters whilst working as a teaching assistant at the Istanbul International Community School. 2 years as a secretary and training seminar coordinator at the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland. Now I’m a stay at home mother and organiser of 2 TEDx events (TEDxGundeldingen in 2013, and upcoming TEDxBasel). Future plans  At the moment to stay at home until my children start school and work part time for small events or organisations such as TEDx. I plan to start a ‘career’ at some point, but I’m not sure what that will be! Words of advice  Don’t let ‘not knowing anybody’ or ‘never having been there’ stop you moving to a new country. I had never visited the countries I lived in before I moved there and it was always very easy. There is something wonderfully liberating about living abroad as there are no expectations of you. Whilst it can be scary to move somewhere totally new and alien, expat communities are incredibly welcoming. This has been true everywhere I’ve lived; everyone is, or has been, in the same boat so you make friends very quickly and your friends become your family.

USA 27

World languages At Downe House we strongly believe that learning another language opens doors to new cultures and new experiences that it simply is not possible to enjoy if you only speak one language. In our Modern Languages department we have a team of dedicated teachers who are passionate about languages, and who love to share this passion with the girls. We pride ourselves on helping girls to explore other cultures and have this very much at the heart of our teaching. Our desire to bring languages to life is also met by what we do outside the classroom. There is a full and varied programme of events from study trips abroad to film clubs, from Language Days to entry into a variety of competitions. In addition, the School invites in guest speakers and theatre companies on occasion throughout the year. Recent highlights have been our successes in language competitions such as the British Council and HSBC Mandarin Chinese advanced speaking competition, the Times’ Stephen Spender Poetry Translation competition and success in the National Linguatrivia competition. We offer five main languages: German, French, 28

Italian, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. In addition girls can study Russian and Japanese to GCSE and beyond. Wherever possible we aim to support girls in their desire to study other languages. In recent years girls have studied Arabic, Polish and Portuguese to public examination level. Trips to a number of these destinations take place too so that girls can practise their skills and immerse themselves in the language and culture. Spending time in a foreign country has the added benefit of allowing girls to hear local intonation, accents and pronunciation, which can improve confidence and linguistic skill. Currently we run an annual trip to Italy and two trips to France and Spain or other Spanish speaking countries. In addition the Modern Languages department supports and organises individual excursions for girls to visit China. Our Twitter account @downemfl keeps us in touch with the world and the world with us.

Mrs Jane Basnett Head of Modern Languages

The limits of my language are the limits of my world. Ludwig Wittgenstein

Bringing the outside world in As part of our commitment to bring learning to life at every opportunity, and to create global citizens, we aim to give the girls countless enrichment opportunities to experience the world, discover new cultures, meet people from different walks of life and truly broaden their horizons.

Enrichment Days

Lectures, talks, masterclasses and workshops are scheduled throughout the year across all year levels. Outside speakers and leaders join us to share with us their depth of knowledge, experience and expertise to open our girls’ eyes to the world around them – the challenges, the opportunities, the wonderment and the realities.

Case Study: Bab Al-Islam – Into the Islamic World

In alternate years we organise a day of enrichment for our Lower Fifth girls and invite Radley College to join us. In return, Radley College hosts a similar day for our girls, with the focus being on a particular country or culture.

The Middle East is an area of vital economic, political and strategic importance in the modern world. Knowledge of the area, its peoples, cultures and history can help us to understand current international events. Moreover, the regions place in history is no less important. It is the birthplace of three of the world religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam– and the site of ancient civilisations. Due to its rich, varied and vibrant heritage and the fascination the region evokes, it was an obvious and easy decision to base our day of enrichment around the Middle East. The aim of the day was to give each girl the opportunity to enhance their knowledge and gain new experiences through a variety of lectures and workshops from learning Arabic, to belly dancing. As well as learning about the causes of the Arab Spring, to socialising in an authentic Bedouin tent over traditional coffee and dates. At lunch, girls and staff went on a gastronomic journey, sampling food from a wide variety of Middle Eastern countries. We were also truly honoured that the artist, Abdulnasser Gharem joined us from Saudi Arabia to deliver an inspirational talk and to work on a collaborative canvas with the Downe House and Radley students: this was a rare and wonderful opportunity.


Co-curricular The richness of learning provided within the classroom only goes part way to illustrate the global opportunities that boarding at Downe House brings.

� Mrs Julie Dell Head of Co-Curricular


We create exciting opportunities for the girls to travel the world to extend their learning, their awareness of the world around them, to stretch and challenge them, and to reinforce their sense of global citizenship.



Veyrines – A term in France In the Lower Fourth year every girl spends a term in the beautiful Périgord Noir, at our smaller ‘farmhouse’ school in the rural commune of Veyrines-de-Domme. Designed to encourage each girl to feel part of a community, the term in Veyrines is not simply about improving their knowledge of French in an idyllic setting; it is about persuading young minds to immerse themselves totally in a new culture. We seek to give them an appreciation of a different culture and way of life which broadens their horizons whilst remaining within the familiarity of the Downe House framework and excellent pastoral care. Located just a few minutes’ drive from the picturesque valley of the Dordogne, this beautiful area is rich in art, history and geography - all of which provide a natural extension to the classroom. Totally enriching, the Veyrines term includes charity work, an exchange with pupils from a college and opportunities for collaborative work with pupils of similar age and members of the local community. During each term, carefully planned sorties encourage independent study and support classroom learning. They have a varied programme of enrichment beyond the predictable and significantly more authentic than tourist attractions. These experiences allow the girls to meet and engage with a diverse range of local people so as to gain an in-depth understanding of the values of another country and the communities and cultures within it.


Global vision Downe House is committed to developing relationships with other schools and universities across the globe. Participation in exchange broadens the horizons of students, helps them to grow as individuals, develop new global awareness and make new friends. Our aim is to offer opportunities for girls and staff to experience a range of educational experiences and real-life adventures around the globe. We have exchange partnerships with schools in Prague, Boston (USA), Switzerland, Australia, Hong Kong and China with a view to expanding this list in 2015 – 2016 to include Argentina, Canada, Japan, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain and France.

Case Study: Exchange Student Programme Downe House supports two girls from Prague, Czech Republic, who come to spend a term with us in the Sixth Form each year. They contribute a great deal to our community and the girls very much enjoy getting to know them. Kristina Kralova, Exchange Student from Johannes Kepler Grammar School in Prague, Czech Republic. “I have been at Downe House for almost three months now but I still cannot believe I am actually here. My school and Downe House are at most points absolute opposites. In Czech Republic we have a completely different scholar system. We do not have many boarding or single-gender schools. Also the education takes longer. We start primary school at age 6 and finish high school at age 19. For the whole high school we have to do all sixteen subjects, completing our studies with a nation-wide exam on four subjects of our choice, while the Czech language is compulsory. Most of our syllabus is covered during the lessons, which leaves us with less work on our own. Still, I have 38 lessons per week. Having so many subjects gives us a wider perspective, and if you are like me and have no idea what to do in the future, it does not force you into deciding upon your specialisation until it is totally inevitable. Being at a school like Downe House boosts up your studies in what you are really good at as everyone around you is trying to motivate you so much.” “Having the chance to stay and study at Downe House are some of the most amazing things that have happened to me. Although I have to go back and leave here, all the amazing opportunities Downe brought me, the memories and experiences will go with me.”

Marya Akhtar Director of Higher Education and Global Initiatives

Laura Myers Global Student Exchange Coordinator 33

An international community Facts and figures Pupils On average there are 10% non-UK Nationals in our student body. Currently we have families from Malta, Germany, Spain, Poland, France, Nepal, Nigeria, the USA, South Korea, Thailand, Kenya, Singapore, Zambia, the Philippines, China, South Africa, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Denmark, Russia, Zimbabwe, Australia, Malaysia, Slovakia, Indonesia, Japan, Cayman Islands, Kazakhstan, Belgium, Bermuda and Italy. Staff At Downe House we employ over 350 staff in a wide range of posts. The staff community join us from all over the world including – France, Spain, Italy, China, Australia, Poland, New Zealand, the USA, South Africa, India, Canada and Ireland.

The world is a lot more exciting when it is full of diverse people who have their own ideas.


For more information please contact:

Our committed staff All staff at Downe House are committed to broadening our girls’ horizons and offering them every opportunity to prepare for life and work in the wider world. We have exciting plans for the future and clear aspirations. To this end, we will continue to expand the brief of preparing girls for overseas universities, by preparing them more broadly as global citizens, and women ready for the world and workplace. The Higher Education and Global Initiatives Department is focusing on developing school links so that girls can have experience of a variety of cultures earlier than they might otherwise have.

Ms Marya Akhtar Director of Higher Education and Global Initiatives

The Foundation Office

– Overseas universities – Global exchange programme

Miss Laura Myers Global Student Exchange Coordinator

Mrs Michelle Scott Assistant Headmistress (Foundation) – Parent and alumnae relations – DH LINKS – Fundraising and development

Be open and inquisitive wherever you live in the world.

Mrs Laura Ogilvie-Jones Director of Admissions, School and Professional Links – Admissions – Prep School liaison – DH LINKS 35

DOWNE HOUSE Founded 1907

Hermitage Road, Cold Ash, Thatcham, Berks, RG18 9JJ t 01635 200286

Downe House Horizons  

Downe House alumnae and staff share their personal stories to inspire and broaden the Horizons of the next generation of girls.

Downe House Horizons  

Downe House alumnae and staff share their personal stories to inspire and broaden the Horizons of the next generation of girls.