I was delighted and honoured to win the 2016 First Woman of Finance Award, and it got me thinking about a favourite topic of mine, namely how important it is for people, particularly young people, to have role models to inspire them to dream big.
I really believe it’s hard for someone to imagine themselves in a particular role if they can’t identify with someone in that role and see a path to getting there. And it’s hard for someone to realise the extent of life’s possibilities unless they are inspired to aim high.
On reflecting on the sources of inspiration and the role models that have featured in my life, I’d like to share a few key ones which stand out because of the profound impact they had on my life choices.
At school I had a chemistry teacher called Dr Martin. He was from Liverpool, with a great sense of humour, who looked like Tom Selleck from a very popular TV series at the time called Magnum PI.
He also treated us all like adults, and we responded with respect and hard work. Chemistry lessons were a glorious riot of explosions, flaming Bunsen burners, mysterious colour changing solutions, and the discovery of meaning in funny looking equations and symbols. I loved those lessons, and I fell in love with chemistry.
In my last year at school when I was thinking about university choices, I got to know the father of a friend of mine, called Dr Ryder, now sadly deceased. He was a metallurgist, and his job was to figure out why objects went wrong and what caused them to fail.
At the time he was investigating the Lockerbie air crash, which meant looking at apparently useless shards of twisted metal and piecing together the story of what happened to the plane as it exploded. I was fascinated by the application of science to solving real world problems.
In that same year, I had the opportunity to participate in a week-long course at the University of Nottingham as part of a Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) initiative. Along with a group of other like-minded girls I learned about all the different degree courses and careers in science and engineering.
One of the young lecturers, a woman called Dr Julia King, made a particular impression on me. She has now risen to be one of the most senior academics in the country, and is vice-chancellor of the University of Aston. I was determined to break the glass ceiling and become a captain of industry.
And finally a more controversial choice, but none the less true. In my teens a woman named Margaret Thatcher became the first female prime minister of the UK. That was really something for me, and I suspect for many women and girls, whatever their politics. And she was strong and determined and fearless.
Truly the sky was the limit, and I felt that I could achieve anything I wanted to achieve.
About the author
Hazel Moore is the co-founder and chairman of investment Bank First Capital.