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Inspirational Manchester women share wisdom with 6th formers

Entrepreneurs Jennie Johnson and Lou Cordwell were both named in Manchester Evening News' league of '100 Inspiring Women'

Posted by Julian Owen | October 03, 2017 | Events

Sixth Formers from Manchester High School for Girls (MHSG) soaked up top tips for getting ahead from Jennie Johnson MBE, founder of childcare provider, Kids Allowed, and Lou Cordwell, CEO of award-winning digital agency, Magnetic North. Both stepped up to share some words of wisdom at MHSG’s Junior Sixth Away Day which was held at the UKFast Campus on 19th September.  

The day takes place every year as students commence their A-level studies to help the year group bond together for their crucial Sixth Form years and to allow them to explore vital 21st century skills such as resilience, pragmatism and organisation in an ‘always-on’ world. 

Jennie, who was recently named CEO of the Year at the UK Private Business Awards, spoke to students about the fact that life rarely goes to plan.

She commented: “Qualifications are certainly important in enabling you to take the next step, be it to university, an apprenticeship or even working life, but the thing that really matters is attitude. Even if at the end of your A-level studies things haven’t quite gone to plan, don’t panic. There’s always a way. With the right attitude you can, and will, knock doors down.” 

Jennie also spoke about the fact that women operating at a high level in the work place are often criticised for pulling up the career ladder behind them, rather than choosing to act as a role model or mentor to other females. 

“Manchester High is well known for turning out articulate, capable and forward-thinking women who go on to great things. When you have ‘made it’ in your career, which I am sure you all will, don’t be that person. Doing good and staying true to your values is just as important a measure of success as any job title or financial reward.” 

We make sure we give all our students the tools to cope with the various forms of pressure that come with adult life.

Lou Cordwell, who alongside her role as CEO of Magnetic North has also been appointed Northern Director for AllBright, a new funding and support platform designed specifically for female entrepreneurs, spoke to the girls about what she wished someone had told her when she was 17.

She said: “It may feel like everyone around you is getting ahead and knows exactly what they are doing. You may feel like you’re running out of time and that you need to have your career and life mapped out from day one. You don’t. Just remember, it’s perfectly OK to try things on for size. Go out there and get work experience, see what you enjoy doing, find out what you don’t, that’s just as important. Crucially, play to your own individual strengths. Know that nobody else can do what you can.” 

After a morning of listening intently, students were able to let off steam during a session of laughter yoga with trainer Maria Buonincontro. Laughter yoga involves prolonged voluntary laugher and is based on the belief that this can provide the same physiological and psychological benefits as real, spontaneous laughter. It is proven to reduce blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, while at the same time boosting the body’s 'happy hormones'. 

Sarah Norton, Director of Sixth Form Studies at Manchester High, commented: “Who knew there were so many different ways to laugh? From belly laughing to hot floor hopping and even a bit of howling, we’ve covered them all! 

“There is no denying that Sixth Form study is demanding and at Manchester High we do encourage our girls to aim high. At the same time, we make sure we give all our students the tools to cope with the various forms of pressure that come with adult life. Often the girls have such high expectations of themselves that the stress comes from within and here at Manchester High we like to think we’re good at keeping that at bay.” 

Applications for entry into Manchester High School for Girls (from Preparatory Department through to Sixth Form) for the 2018/19 academic year are now open. For more information, please visit The School’s next Open Events is on Monday 9th October.



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