On Saturday 1st March 2014, over 400 teenagers gathered at the prestigious Royal College of Surgeons in Holborn, London for an afternoon of innovative careers guidance and speed mentoring from over 60 top professionals. The event was targeted at 14-20 year olds who had exclusive access to professionals from over 30 industries including banking, law, medicine, fashion, PR, event management, journalism, sustainability, music production, acting and piloting. With ten-minute slots over a two-hour period, the students were able to gain key insights into a wide variety of industries, as they travelled from sector to sector to begin their journey on the path to success.

The event was opened by Richard Whitehead MBE, the Paralympic Champion and world record holder who won Gold in the 200m T42 event at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Mr Whitehead provided the keynote speech for the day, inspiring participants with his achievements both on and off the track. Mr Whitehead’s motivational speech set a suitably high standard for the event, which continued throughout the day as impressively as it began.

Other notable guests included Lady Juliet McNally and British Airways pilot Loraine Hancock. Ms Hancock inspired the crowd with a speech which promoted women pilots and encouraged the female pupils, as well as their male peers, to consider a career in aviation.

Speed Mentoring, which differs from usual careers fairs through its innovative use of interactive guidance, allowed students to receive valuable and honest advice directly from top young professionals. The uptake was huge, with pupils from Queen Anne’s School, Reading and Upton Hall, Wirral travelling to London especially for the event. Other schools present on the day included Bethnal Green Academy, Bentley Wood School, Claremont High School Academy, Heathfield School for Girls, Hampstead School and many others. The feedback from the event was extremely positive, with over 85% of the students rating it 8 or above out of 10.

See what some students thought:

"I really enjoyed finding out what different types of careers involve and hearing about peoples personal experiences within certain industries. I liked asking the mentors questions as well" - Aarti, Claremont High School

"I liked the fact that the mentors were truly passionate about their jobs" - Johura, Woodbridge High

"It was great to learn about new industries I had never thought about before" - Simran, Northwood College

"I found the journalism, medicine and travel mentors very helpful – they really broadened my ideas" - Bethany, Archbishop Tenisons

"My favourite part of the Speed Mentoring event was the diversity of the careers on offer" - Alex, Sydenham High

See what the mentors thought:

“Thank you doing such an incredible job of organising the event!!!! Brillliant event well done – I’m chuffed to be part of it!” - James (PhD), Science/Research

“Saturday was lots of fun – and how amazing is Richard Whitehead!!! I don’t think you could have picked a better person to speak” - Aimee, Fashion/Design

"Well done for another fantastic event. You could see that the students were keen to soak up all they could in the time available, and lots of smiles all round – a good sign! Really good overall rating! Well done. Sign me up for next year!" - Linzi, Solicitor

“Thanks so much and congratulations for putting on such a great event. Already looking forward to the next one” - Carl, Investment Banking