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Susan Pretty, MGC 1953 Leaver

Malvern Alumnae 100 Susan Shaw

I will always feel indebted to "Pippy", my Summerside Housemistress, for her encouragement and understanding, and her sense of fun! She instilled in us a great sense of fairness, and also a deep and lasting appreciation of the Arts, which, with my theatrical background, stood me in good stead.

I was not a particularly academic pupil, but I made several life-long friends, and left the Sixth Form to take a secretarial course, which I HATED - but must admit is still very useful. Following a range of jobs, both in politics and commerce, then a stint of exhibition work which I enjoyed, a vacancy suddenly and most successfully fell into my lap for a Guide in the newly-formed Stock Exchange Visitors' Gallery, where languages were also useful. Trained thoroughly by the Council in all aspects of the Exchange's workings and including keeping abreast of the effect of world events on prices, I enjoyed five wonderful years there, becoming Senior Guide, representing the Stock Exchange at events abroad and greeting many VIPs in the Gallery. And, of course, during those days I got to know so many of the Members, and also their clients.

I then chose to join a Stockbroker with his own private-client business, initially for three weeks. But encouraged by the instant success of the increased business, I remained for over thirty years! My "boss", with his Swedish wife and upbringing, was very keen that women should be admitted to full membership of the Stock Exchange, on equal terms with the then all-male bastion; but three times the proposal was turned down by the Members - one reason being that there were no separate facilities for women (similar to an original reason given in the House of Lords!). Finally, with the merger of the London Stock Exchange with all the Provincial ones, where there was already a woman member, the barriers had to fall, and twelve of us were admitted to full membership on 26th March, 1973. Not knowing quite what the reaction would be, I became the first to enter the trading floor.

The rest is history, as they say! 

What does success look like?

I am pleased that I helped to break the glass ceiling for women in the City. 

What is your best piece of advice?

Opportunities seldom occur twice: if it feels right, don't wait. Secondly, in my opinion, it is not WHAT you know so much as WHO you know.  

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