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MGC, 1981 Leaver

Malvern Alumnae 100 Sue Forbes

Everyone assumed I’d go into a Sports related field, given how much time I spent playing sports.  However, my degree is in Electronic Engineering from Warwick. Once I began working as a design engineer, I realized I really wanted to be an engineering manager. So began a theme in my career:  As my aspirations shifted, I followed them. 

I joined the Royal Air Force as an Engineer Officer and was the first woman ever to receive the Queens Medal for the most outstanding Officer Cadet in the year. This resulted in interesting postings, including the Falklands Islands and Cyprus. After six glorious years, it was time to move on.

I needed to broaden my horizons to expand my career opportunities, so I completed a Masters of Business Administration at Stanford University, California. It paid off in a rewarding career in Silicon Valley, working for McKinsey as a management consultant and then for various high-tech companies, starting in Product Management. Eventually, I added Marketing, Business Development, Sales and Engineering in executive general management roles from small startups to large multinationals. It was fascinating work on the cutting edge of technology and took me all over the world. It’s also a 24/7 environment and can be quite brutal.

So, after 17 years, it was time for the next change. This time I followed the passion I’d only managed to do in my spare time with my husband – photography and travel. Passion and determination have allowed me to find a niche working on expedition ships travelling the world. I teach photography, drive boats, guide, and photograph the most amazing wildlife.  I’ve been published in various books and magazines and won awards, the highlight of which was last year at the Natural History Museum Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards, where my photo was selected to be one of 100 in the exhibit out of 45,000 entries.

What does success look like?

Success is very personal but usually comes when you drive towards your goals.  Work hard and make the most of every opportunity, but remember to play hard along the way.  Life isn’t just about work.  Your biggest success might be at home or in a hobby.

What’s your best piece of advice?

Don’t worry about deciding on your whole life’s career right out of school.  Be a lifelong learner. You can change if you’re not fulfilled.