In 1999, The Wulf* published an article entitled “Guinea Pig” in which Ruth reminisced about her introduction to the WGS community as the first ever girl in School. The article ended ‘…but that is another chapter’. We asked Ruth to tell us about that next chapter …
After Sheffield I joined ICI on their graduate scheme, where I met my husband, and eventually via various smaller companies I ended up at BT. I worked for BT for nearly 20 years, taking voluntary redundancy last year to pursue a life of hedonistic leisure. If the weather is good I now spend my time on a horse or a bicycle, and if it’s bad I’m inside sewing or knitting for various charities.
How did your Law degree prepare you for a job in industry?
I think a Law degree is a pretty good preparation for most areas of work, even if you are not planning to go into legal practice. Among other things you learn how to research, how to phrase an argument effectively and how to filter useful information from all the other details that are thrown at you. All useful skills in any walk of life. Also, I found that although a degree in Law is no more or less valuable than any other degree, it seems to generate a level of respect that it really doesn’t deserve. This is not unhelpful in employment situations.
Where’s the most unusual place your career has taken you?
This is by far the most difficult question, as I don’t think I’ve really been anywhere very unusual. For the last 14 years I worked from home in an office in the garden only venturing out for meetings when absolutely necessary. Possibly one of the most interesting assignments was working out how to create a 3G network for the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, which involved putting mobile phone masts in, among other places, a number of lampposts and phone boxes around the Stadium. You’d be surprised how much one can learn about lampposts.
What has been your career highlight to date?
Career highlight was probably running the trials for a fixed line text service – this means you can send a text message to a land line which will automatically be converted to speech and delivered as a voicemail. It was a huge project, and I had about 1,000 trialists all using both mobile and fixed line phones to try and break the system – including texting all sorts of symbols and language that you might not want to convert. We had hilarious meetings trying to work out how to deal with emojis, and there weren’t that many of them at the time. I dread to think what the code looks like these days!
What is next for you?
I’m planning to apply to be a magistrate next year – finally after all these years getting back into court. In the meantime I’m doing a bit of charity work, and enjoying having more time to ride my horse.
Do you have any career advice for our current pupils?
Try and make a career out of something you really enjoy. I spent the first part of my career fumbling about trying to find what I was good at, and not surprisingly, what I was good at was what I enjoyed. Having worked that out, the latter part of my career was far more fun because I was involved in things that I found intellectually stimulating.
Three words that best describe your time at WGS?
Conspicous, subuteo, Uncle Shah (I know it’s two words, but I called my father Shah, so all classmates started referring to him as Uncle Shah.)
* To read Ruth’s original article click here