Stuart Ottley: 1973-1978

My favourite memory of William Edwards:

There a few, but those that consistently return to me, as a very quiet boy, are the experiences of being an extra in the Singh/Ormond musical productions of The Sound of Music and Oliver.  I remember the fantastic sets and the audiences being full to capacity, the rapturous applause and the curtain calls.

I also remember a lot of my ‘mentor’ teachers. Including Mrs Singh (English & Drama), Mr Davies (Maths), Mr Oats (Chemistry), Mr Henderson (Sociology), Mr Roberts (English); Mrs Booth (Languages).

Since leaving William Edwards:

Post 16 education/training – I went to Palmer’s College intending to enter medicine.

I lasted a term but I dropped out as I was under pressure to do activities that didn’t appeal and I wasn’t confident enough to reject. I worked in a local opticians then I found work in London and joined the HQ of a bank.  This was a disappointing time after a good performance at William Edwards.

Higher Education – I set my goal to reach senior management in banking and did my occupational exams in day-release and evening classes and I gained my degree in Finance.

Career pathways – I have done quite a few diverse things in banking since 1980 but never worked in a branch or touched cash as part of my job. My work has taken me all over the UK, New York, Chicago and India and I’ve met senior executives of many big multinational companies. I currently head up the development of corporate credit policy for HSBC Group, Europe’s biggest bank, and sit on the 40th floor at their Canary Wharf global HQ. I ensure the way people all over the world is clearly defined and operationalised to protect the banks loans to companies totalling nearly £20 trillion.

This brings me into contact with the senior leaders and people throughout HSBC from Vancouver to Sydney and China to Uruguay.

My proudest achievement – There have to be two. Getting married and adopting our son.

When I was born in 1962 is was still illegal to be gay and I grew up with no positive role models. Even when I met my, now husband, in 1994 it was difficult to ‘come out’ as gay. But we had our civil partnership, then converted it to marriage when same sex marriage was introduced and, after a period of fostering kids, we adopted our son in 2010.

Life and lifestyle events, hobbies & interests and personal achievements:

I was a very introverted child at William Edwards and the same at work for many years. This was obviously due to me not wanting to draw attention to the ‘self’ that I didn’t understand and didn’t think would be acceptable to others.  That said, I did pretty well academically thanks to the great teachers I had.  However, this is what held me back and led to me leaving Palmers. Over the last 15 years I’ve discovered that coming out at work and bringing ‘my whole self’ to work has made a huge difference to who I’ve become and to my performance and recognition at work and in life.  It’s not necessary to avoid engaging openly with others to conceal an integral part of who I am; and being gay is only a tiny part of who I am.

I’ve always been interested in animals and one of my best personal achievements was when I volunteered for the Southend and South Essex branch of the RSPCA. I had the confidence to take on the branch secretary role that involved being immersed in all aspects of administering the local charity including being interviewed on BBC Essex about a particular fundraising event. It was a very challenging voluntary role but I learned a lot and took what I learned to improve my performance at work.

My advice to the present pupils of William Edwards – Be caring, loyal, open and honest with others and they will appreciate and respect you for it and respond accordingly.  This includes family, friends, teachers, employers and co-workers.

Bring your ‘whole self’ to participate in education and work.  Being open about who you are, what you bring from life and why has a very positive impact on your performance and your engagement with others.

Always have a goal.

My next goal – My interest in English history took me to Denmark to look at Viking history. Denmark is such a cool place, including the ‘hygge’ and my current goal is to learn Danish.