Jennifer O'Connell (nee Michael)
I spent a very enjoyable and character building seven years with Gidea Park College from c.1987 (where I had a very close relationship with the excellent and irreplaceable Mrs Vera Lee). I was Head Girl in my final year and have a cup for mathematical achievement named after me(!).
My love for numbers unfortunately did not carry on into adulthood and instead, after reading Law with German at Birmingham University, I pursed a career in law. I joined Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in 2007 as a Trainee Solicitor and, after a client secondment and an international secondment to Freshfields’ Milan office, I qualified into the corporate department. After six years at Freshfields, I decided (much to my parents’ dismay) that law was not where I wanted to spend my career and instead I moved into executive search.
I am currently a Consultant at Russell Reynolds, a global executive search firm, where I lead our European Legal Practice which I have helped to build since joining a couple of years ago. This means that I am working with large corporations and household names helping them to find their lead lawyer (the Group General Counsel) and any direct reports. In terms of particularly interesting appointments, I fairly recently placed the Head of Enforcement at the Financial Conduct Authority, Mark Steward, who is the man responsible for policing all of our banks and, when appropriate, fining them!
Gidea Park College will always have a special place in my heart - it is a fantastic school and it taught me to always strive to be the best person I can be.