Stuart West

What are you doing now?

I’m currently a Management Consultant for Deloitte UK, working predominantly with public sector entities. I spend my time in the offices of our clients, supporting them in their efforts to make business processes more efficient whilst improving the ‘customer’ experience they offer.

My days can differ drastically and have ranged from working throughout the night in the Deloitte office on a multi-million pound central government bid, to hosting workshops at the Serpentine Gallery in London explaining how they could go about planning upcoming exhibitions more effectively.

What further qualifications did you pursue?

After my A levels, I studied Politics at Lancaster University with my second year spent abroad at the University of California, Irvine. I obtained a first class honours degree and received the departmental prize for my endeavours.

Were these essential?

For my current position at Deloitte, it was necessary that I had an undergraduate degree of grade 2:1 or higher. For many of the top employers’ graduate programs undergraduate degrees are required and an undergraduate degree has become ‘the norm’ for a large portion of school leavers. However, due to the changing higher education landscape (increased tuition fees and diverse courses/providers) and the digitization of the global economy, this ‘norm’ might be reversed with apprenticeships revived and IT/technical training expanding rapidly.

What advice would you give to someone joining DHSB in Year 7?

Be yourself and spend time doing what you are interested in. DHSB is a fantastic school, serving as a safe learning environment where academic success is celebrated. Don’t be afraid to contribute in class or ask ‘silly’ questions; you’ll often find that many of your class mates wish to know the same answers, but may not have the confidence (or in some cases, the maturity) to ask themselves.

Also, keep yourself busy. Read a lot, play sport (rugby preferably) and try new things. Join clubs and get involved whether that be running for School Council or playing in a band. Don’t be afraid to compete against others. There will always be someone bigger or better than you in the world, and thus not doing something because of this fact is not an option.

You could run the 100m sprint at sports day every year and lose every time, but if your ‘personal best’ improves each year, you are winning.

What words of wisdom would you give a Sixth Former leaving school?

Two things that you will probably have heard a lot; read the news and travel.

I have found that ‘knowing what’s going on in the world’ has opened so many doors for me. Speaking from a position of knowledge on a subject brings you far more credibility, and gives the impression that you have a depth and maturity to you that others might not. When that subject is ‘the world’, you come across as an active citizen that is aware of the implications of day to day events. Even within my job now, I am far more useful to my clients if I know the intricacies of their industry than if I know the textbook definitions of consultancy terms.

Travelling has brought me more happiness than anything else in life, and the corresponding stories have been hugely influential in securing the two jobs I have had. I went to France, Italy and Poland with DHSB, and drove the width of the United States (from NYC to San Francisco!) with three DHSB friends after our A levels. The planning and logistics of the latter certainly looked good to my first employer, who subsequently sent me to Taiwan, Sri Lanka and Indonesia to write country reports for The Times, Foreign Policy Magazine and Financial Times Deutschland.

Living and working in environments that bear no relation to your own serves as the perfect opportunity to develop cultural awareness and social intelligence; arguably two necessary facets for success in today’s globalised world.

What have you learnt most about yourself?

It is amazing what the human body can achieve when you are motivated to do something. I have learned that if I want something enough, I am capable of achieving it. It might not be easy, and your body might collapse upon completion, but if you want it enough you’ll probably get it.

Any surprising lessons learnt?

I am my own worst critic. I punish myself more than anyone else punishes me and therefore have to take that into account when assessing my own performance.

Do you have a message for any of your teachers?

Thank you so much.

Mr Riggs, Mr MacLeod and Mrs Anstee made my A levels engaging, and I learnt to play rugby with Mr Strang and Mr Burt.

Finally, I think it is important to mention the huge role Mr Bowden had in shaping my year group’s DHSB experience teaching all of us how to behave and instilling life’s lessons.

DHSB wouldn’t have been the same place without him.