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HSC Lecture: EY Partner, Maggie Stilwell

 

On 2 March 2020, Sixth Form students were treated to a thought-provoking and highly interactive Henry Smith Lecture by Maggie Stilwell (RGS parent).

 

Maggie follows in the footsteps of some impressive speakers such as Sir Peter Gershon (RGS 1958-1965) and Sir Peter Lampl (RGS 1959-1964) to deliver a talk to Sixth Formers. As part of our Inspriring Minds campaign, and in support of International Womens Day 2020, we thought it poignant to draw on the accomplishments of this phenomenal lady to excite and motivate our students.

 

Who do you think you are?

The focus of Maggie’s presentation was ‘Who do you think you are?’, which challenged students to consider their own ambitions, and how they might reset them over the course of their lives to achieve impact.

Maggie reflected on her own life, and in particular, her school report which was pretty average, in which she was often described as a ‘pleasant all-rounder’! At Edinburgh University, Maggie’s only aspiration was to complete the course.

Maggie invited audience members to stand up, then asked a series of questions, with students sitting down if they were: taking a gap year, not going to university, didn’t know what they wanted to do for a career, or were pursuing a route on the recommendation of their parents, close family or a friend.

Using example school reports from Roald Dahl, which described the acclaimed author as, ‘An illiterate member of the class. Consistently idle. Ideas limited’, and Gary Lineker, which recommended that the ex-England International Footballer and BBC pundit, ‘…devote less of his time to sport if he wants to be a success’, Maggie urged students to create their own narrative of who they are.

 

Don’t be afraid of failure!

While at university, Maggie saw an advert for a summer placement in Australia, applied and was accepted. This proved a pivotal experience, where she found herself surrounded by successful characters who held Masters degrees and PHDs. On returning to Edinburgh, she asked her tutor what she needed to do to achieve a First. Not wanting to shatter her dreams, he was hesitant to outline the hard work she would have to put in to bring her grade average up. Despite this, Maggie achieved her First and even won a prize for her dissertation!

The lecture went on to explore the concept of mental models and how your mind-set affects your performance. She asked the question, ‘How big is your imagination?’ noting that this will affect what you strive for.  She emphasised that we shouldn’t be afraid of failure:

 

If we are too worried about failure, you will be too cautious in your outlook and may fail from not having had enough failures!

 

Feedback from students and staff was overwhelmingly positive and we extend our sincere thanks to Maggie for her thought-provoking lecture.

 

About Maggie Stillwell

Maggie Stilwell is Dispute Services Partner at Ernst & Young LLP. An experienced dispute advisory specialist, Maggie has comprehensive expert witness and expert determination experience in accountancy and finance matters. She is listed as an expert in each Who’s Who Legal: Arbitration 2016 to 2019 and was recently nominated in the top five ranking of the Accountancy Age Women in Finance awards. She has been with EY for 23 years and has experience in a number of sectors including energy, pharmaceuticals, consumer products, government & public sector and financial services.

From 2015, Maggie was a member of EY’s leadership team, as Managing Partner for Talent, with responsibilities including graduate and school-leaver recruitment, sponsoring high-potential development programmes (including collaboration with Oxford Said Business School), designing and running the process for assessing readiness for partnership and creating a more diverse and inclusive environment across the firm. She elected to return full time to client work in 2018.

Prior to specialising in dispute services, Maggie built up audit and corporate finance experience.  She qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1994 and has a First Class Honours degree in Business from Edinburgh University and is a dissertation prize winner. Maggie is a working mum to three children ages 11, 18 and 20.  In 2018, she broke the individual record for fundraising for EY’s charitable foundation by undertaking a group trek to Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal.

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