Meet Our Big Sisters...

Rachel Ward Lilley - Director & Head 'Big Sister'

Rachel left school at the age of 16, and started working as a sales and marketing assistant. By the age of 29, having established herself as head of Special Sales for Penguin Books, she found herself ready for a new challenge. She enrolled at the University of Manchester as a mature and independent student, and studied for a degree in psychology. After graduating, she started again with her career and, within 5 years, had been appointed Operations Director of a leading accountancy group based in the North West. read more...

Dr SRABASTI J CHAKRAVORTY - Big Sister

Srabasti is a university Science lecturer supervising students from undergraduate to postgraduate level. She is passionate about encouraging girls to engage with science, is well travelled and is also a volunteer for the Police.

In conversation with Srabasti:

What were your career aspirations at 15?

Nothing definite but I wanted to do something with Science.

What do you wish that you had known at 16 that you know for sure today?

There are experiences that make you feel sad and experiences that make you feel happy but it is what you make of those experiences is what makes you the person that you are. Negative experiences can make you a stronger person if you learn from it and channel it into a positive experience. Positive experiences make you stronger by giving you the motivation to improve yourself and always move forward.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Difficult and stressful experiences are character building. It didn’t feel like that at the time but in hindsight it was the best advice for me.

Who is your role model? Or who do you admire and why?

There are 2 people in my life who I look up to and admire:

1) My mother who is retired now but she worked all her life and had a successful career in a very competitive profession (doctor) and she also held together our family. I am one of 4 siblings, and we still see her as a beacon bringing us all together.

2) My boss when I was working in Birmingham training for a PhD. She is also an extremely successful career woman in a very competitive profession (doctor) and she always pushed me to attempt new tasks and exposed me to challenging experiences. She believed in me when I needed someone to believe in me and give me the career opportunities I needed to move forward.

 

 

 

VERA BLOOR - Big Sister

Vera is a senior manager in the Staffordshire  Police  with 29 years service and  wealth of strategic and operational management skills.  She founded the local network for women in policing and works at a national level to facilitate the progression of women in the service.

In conversation with Vera:

What were your career aspirations at 15?

To teach and do well at what ever I did.

What do you wish that you had known at 16 that you know for sure today?

To believe in myself, and that I am a positive influence on others.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Move forward with confidence, trust you intuition, and don’t be afraid to try something different. Those who never try, never fail.

Who is your role model?  Or who do you admire and why?

I do not have one particular role model,, ( although I have a husband, 2 sisters, and friends who are pretty amazing) , I use the positive aspects of  a number of people, who are vibrant, energetic, make positive things happen  and not afraid to take risks,

 

Colette Ali - Big Sister

Colette is a qualified registered general and mental nurse with over 24 years experience. Four years ago she changed careers and now works as a personal stylist for both male and female clients of all shapes, sizes and ages. She is mum to a teenage son.

In conversation with Colette:

What were your career aspirations at 15?

At 15, my loves were playing tennis and reading books. So I wanted to be a professional player, or failing that a librarian.

What do you wish that you had known at 16 that you know for sure today?

That I have the power to make all my dreams come true.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

You get out of life what you put into it.

Who is your role model?  Or who do you admire and why?

My role model is Oprah Winfrey; her motto is "Live your best life".

Her life story is inspirational. Her hard work and determination have made her one of the richest and most influential women in the world, and she uses her power to educate and help others.

 

Joanne Quinn - Big Sister

Joanne has a degree in business management and has done a wide range of jobs in different fields. She currently supports the matrons at a local hospital in Crewe. Married with a family, Joanne plays a key supporting role both at work and at home.

In conversation with Joanne:

What were your career aspirations at 15?

To be an artist.

What do you wish that you had known at 16 that you know for sure today?

That you didn't have to do anything you didn't want to do, within reason.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

To be yourself and enjoy life, and if you make mistakes you'll learn from them.

Who is your role model?  Or who do you admire and why?

I admire people who have worked hard for things. Basically people who have put in the hours and 100% effort into everything they do.

 

Marie Arrowsmith - Big Sister

Marie has worked in finance, trained in complementary therapies, worked with young people and as a counsellor. She currently works as a wellbeing coach and holistic therapist. Having overcome what was diagnosed as a terminal illness, she supports herself and may others to remain healthy and lead a fulfilling life.

In conversation with Marie:

What were your career aspirations at 15?

Linguist Initially. I was bright enough to go to university, unfortunately I 'fell by the wayside', left school and didn't go.

What do you wish that you had known at 16 that you know for sure today?

The importance of education ie completing it and fulfilling my potential would have been. My life could and certainly would have been so different. Leaving school is still a huge regret for me.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

'We' can't always change the circumstances, only the way in which 'we' reacet to them.

Also - to thine own self be true.

Who is your role model?  Or who do you admire and why?

I am tempted to say Oprah...

I then did some thinking and decided it is ME!

I am proud of myself and how I have faced and overcome many challenges in my life. I am hoever still a 'Work in Progress'...

 

Mumtaz Hussain - Big Sister

Mumtaz rose to the top of the legal profession and ran her own practice. Still practicing as a solicitor, she has diversified and tapped into her abundance of creativity and communication skills to be a DJ on local radio. She is also a mum to two teenage children.

Colette Ali - Big Sister

Colette is a qualified registered general and mental nurse with over 24 years experience. Four years ago she changed careers and now works as a personal stylist for both male and female clients of all shapes, sizes and ages. She is mum to a teenage son.

In conversation with Mumtaz:

What were your career aspirations at 15?

To be either a doctor or a lawyer.

What do you wish that you had known at 16 that you know for sure today?

It doesn't matter what other people think of you.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

1 - Speak up and stand up for yourself

2 - Never be afraid to be different - don't always follow the crowd.

Who is your role model?  Or who do you admire and why?

Oprah Winfrey is someone I really admire, for the way she got on with it, without self pity and has become one of the most influential people globally, plus she's a really nice person even with all her accolades and massive success.

 

 

Nicola Smalley - Big Sister

Nicola is a financial advisor with excellent communication skills enabling her to explain quite complex things with ease to people from all walks of life. Teenagers are drawn to her enthusiasm and passion, plus she is a great listener and supporter.

In conversation with Nicola:

What were your career aspirations at 15?

I didn't have career aspirations, I had education aspirations. I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. I just knew I liked learning and wanted to carry on. It worried me greatly (sometimes still does).

What do you wish that you had known at 16 that you know for sure today?

That the loudest person in the room isn't always the most confident.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

'Anyone can have a hole in their sock'

My Uncle Bill - When I caught him with one in his, it was the quote that enlightened me to treat everyone the same.

Who is your role model?  Or who do you admire and why?

I like Lilly Allen. She has overcome so much and is still strong and vulnerable at the same time. She has a great insight into modern life and I like her take on things.

Role model - My Uncle Bill - Market Trader to Millionaire

 

Sue Mooney - Big Sister

Sue is passionate about the theatre and works as a drama and voice coach, director and actor. In addition she volunteers for prisons, sporting events and is involved in the brownies/guides and schools. She is also a mum with grown up girls.

In conversation with Sue:

What were your career aspirations at 15?

I had none.

What do you wish that you had known at 16 that you know for sure today?

The real value of education.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Don't let your children make your mistakes.

Who is your role model?  Or who do you admire and why?

My eldest daughter, who is everything I would have liked to be if I could have my time again.

 

Lauren Chambers - Big Sister

Lauren is PR and communications expert.  A top people person with heaps of self motivation she is excellent at quickly developing and building relationships both at work and home.  Lauren understands that an all round, not just academic, education opens doors and allows for a wealth of life choices.  She sets an example by mixing work with play – playing and managing a league netball team.

In conversation with Lauren:

What were your career aspirations at 15?

To work in HR or to be a powerful football director - inspired by Karren Brady!

What do you wish that you had known at 16 that you know for sure today?

That following the crowd isn’t cool, be true to yourself.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Always stand up when you shake hands with someone!

Who is your role model? Or who do you admire and why?

Back to the first question – Karren Brady because she didn’t let being a woman stop her from pursuing a very successful career in a male dominated environment. 

 

 

Delyth Mathieson - Big Sister

First and foremost I’m mum, a wife, a sister, a granddaughter, an aunty and a niece. I have always worked in education and I’m currently working in a Government agency that’s responsible for the recruitment and training of teachers. I’m a passionate advocate for children and young people in whatever I do.

In conversation with Delyth:

What were your career aspirations at 15?

I wanted to be a teacher. I wanted to enable children and young people to have the widest range of opportunities and life chances.

What do you wish that you had known at 16 that you know for sure today?

That a positive mental attitude can get you a very long way!

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

In the words of a poem by WB Yeats- ‘tread softly, because you tread on my dreams’. We sometimes need to remember that we all have dreams and that not everyone has the same one! Just because it’s not your dream too doesn’t mean it’s not valid.

Who is your role model? Or who do you admire and why?

I admire Lance Armstrong- winner of the Tour de France umpteen times after he won his battle with cancer. His books are really inspirational. The Tour de France is such a gruelling cycle race up mountains and takes about 3 weeks. It’s an incredible achievement. I can’t even begin to imagine what mental toughness he needed to achieve that. 

 

Danielle Fleet - Big Sister

My name is Danielle and I work in a high school in Crewe as a Learning Mentor. I play a lot of sport, in particular netball, surfing and swimming. My friends and family describe me as a real girly girl but with a bit of an edge!

In conversation with Danielle:

What were your career aspirations at 15?

When I was 15 I had no idea what I wanted to do, all I was focused on is leaving school and ditching my school uniform! I knew I wanted to go on to study Alevels at college so I spent my final year of school doing all I can to give me the best chance of achieving my goal of going to sixth form college.

What do you wish that you had known at 16 that you know for sure today?

When I was 16 I wish that I had known that it was ok to be myself and to not focus so much on what other people thought. I wasn’t very confident and often felt my shyness held me back. It wasn’t until I left school and went to college that I was forced to step out of my comfort zone and my confidence began to grow.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

The best advice that I have been given is to not be afraid of showing people who you really are, stand up for what you believe in and be true to yourself. (I still have to remind myself of this advice!)

Who is your role model? Or who do you admire and why?

My role model would have to be my mum. She is one of the strongest women I know and I have always been so proud of her growing up. My mum is confident, kind, passionate and fun! My mum is my role model and I will always look up to her.