When Deloitte launched One Million Futures in 2016 with the aim of helping one million people to get where they want to be, it was the start of an ambitious initiative to transform lives. Solomon Arouna, a student at one of the One Million Futures Partner Schools, St Mary Magdalene Academy in Islington, is just one of them.
I admit that I was not the best-behaved pupil when I started at St Mary Magdalene Academy.
I wasn’t particularly academic. I struggled to apply myself. And my main ambition back then was to be a footballer.
Today, I am head boy, much more confident, hope to achieve three A Levels in English Lit, Politics and Sociology and then study Law and Anthropology at university. And instead of being a footballer I now want to be a lawyer.
How did this transformation come about?
Well, it did not happen overnight. A series of opportunities to work with volunteers from Deloitte boosted my confidence, helped me to become more articulate and to believe in myself and what I could achieve.
I was lucky. Deloitte has been working with my school since I joined, and offers 25 different enrichment programmes that build character, develop leadership skills and boosts our employability.
I wasn’t sure about it at first. But after a weekly current affairs discussions sparked my interest in politics, even my friends saw the difference in me. So, by the time Deloitte offered a ‘Globalisation Day’ centred on the World Cup in Rio, there was a rush to sign up (I made sure I got in early so I was top of the list).
One of the most transformative experiences for me was the ‘Strengths and Personality Workshop’. At first I could not think of many positives about myself – just one or two. But I sat down with a volunteer who showed me what I had to offer and by the end of the session we ended up ticking all of the boxes.
Until then I hadn’t realised that self-motivation, peer motivation, an ability to tailor my communication skills to the audience, public speaking, being a team leader in my Duke of Edinburgh group - and everything else we identified - were all attributes employers would want.
However, the highlight has to be interviewing the head of Deloitte, David Sproul who spared me his time as part of the ‘one in a million’ volunteering campaign Deloitte ran in April and May to encourage more of its people to get involved in volunteering. Just meeting the chief executive of one of the Big Four professional firms was nerve-wracking enough, but I then had to interview him …on video.
However, all that work on interview techniques with Deloitte’s volunteers paid off. As soon as the conversation started, I felt relaxed and comfortable.
Every time I go for a job in future, I will think back to that day when I was at school and it will make every job interview seem easy in comparison!.
So, thank you Deloitte. Oh… and if you are reading this and wondering if you could make a difference to a young person’s life, I would say, give it a try. It does not matter if it is only an hour, that is all it takes to inspire someone. I know.