Social Mobility Week
As part of Social Mobility Week we’ve spoken to several Deloitte people who have been willing to share their personal story of social mobility, or their perspectives on the importance of supporting people from low-income backgrounds and creating equality of opportunity. Daniel Clarke shared his thoughts and personal experience on why programmes like Deloitte ASPIRE, our experience of work programme for students from low-income backgrounds, are so invaluable in helping social mobility.
Daniel, who works in Consulting as a scheduler, clearly makes a good impression. But when you listen to his professional achievements you might be surprised to learn that he achieved only one GCSE grade A*- C. Daniel used a placement at Citi Group as a launch pad to achieving a First at University and has even gone on to be introduced as a speaker by Nick Clegg. He is proof that it’s not where you’re from, but very much where you are going.
What challenges have you experienced in your career?
Getting to, and through interviews with a ‘patchy’ academic record is not easy! I believe that, out of habit, some people look for a prestigious school or university in applications, but I know from experience that in some ways it is more difficult to achieve top grades at a school where only 1% achieve an A at A level. I believe that the contextualisation of results for students joining the firm is one step in the right direction.
When you were preparing for your first professional interview with Citi Group, who did you turn to for advice?
Life was difficult for me growing up and one of the results was that I had no family or family-friends who could help me prepare for my interview. I had to rely on my mentor from Career Academies, a charity which worked in my college, as well as my teachers. I would have loved something like Deloitte Access to help me prepare for interviews and the world of work and provide the opportunity to interact with people from professional backgrounds.
Why do you think schemes like the one you did at Citi Group, or the ASPIRE programme we run are so important?
Obviously the skills and exposure to the world of work are very important, but for me the most important thing was the increase in my confidence. Programmes like these encourage young people like me to push themselves and for me were the catalyst in getting me here, something I would never have thought was possible when I first walked into the Citi Group reception.
What advantages do you think your background has given you?
Coming from a culture of low expectations means that you have to be very determined. Reflecting on where I’ve come from reminds me that a willingness to learn and the drive to succeed are two of the most favourable characteristics a person can have. I would argue that coming from a ‘non-traditional background’, like I did, nurtures these in a way that is unique.
Finally, what would you say to someone who is interviewing someone from a non-traditional background?
It sounds clichéd but everyone has a story that makes them who they are, so make sure that you have an open mind and that you are basing your decision on the interview and their potential.