You previously worked as a lawyer – what area of law did you specialise in? I initially worked in private practice specialising in corporate law and privatisation work – I qualified at a time when former Soviet Socialist republics were selling their state-owned businesses, and as a very junior lawyer, I worked with the governments of Estonia and Latvia privatising assets. I also undertook more mainstream corporate work, buying and selling UK and international businesses.
I then worked for a major US film studio, also in London, managing the legal needs of their European home entertainment division.
What made you switch to teaching? It was another opportunity. We had moved to Australia and I was at home with our 3 small children. A lawyer friend suggested I join her teaching law at tertiary level. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the work, but I loved it and the contact with students. After four years of doing that, I became a student again myself, studying to become a secondary teacher.
You teach VCE Legal Studies and Financial Literacy at Fintona – what do you enjoy about teaching those particular subjects? It goes without saying that I love teaching the students who have ambitions of pursuing a career in Law or Finance. Supporting students to gain knowledge and skills that set them on their chosen path is incredibly rewarding – seeing students succeed in their choices is indeed a wonderful thing!
However, I consider legal and financial skills to be essential life skills, and I am equally committed to equipping students for a life beyond law or finance.
We all have to manage our finances and knowing about budgeting, property investment and how the sharemarket works is empowering. I wish I had had access to this information when I was a student.
Legal knowledge is also a critical life skill. In 2018 the Law Council of Australia found strong evidence that many Australians have a limited understanding of their rights, recognising what is a legal issue, and where to get advice and assistance. I would like to think that in my own small way, I am helping to address that gap.
What topics are included in those studies? In Year 9 Financial Literacy, the main topics we consider are budgeting, investing in the stock market and property investment. One critical life skill students learn is the difference between debit and credit cards. Students can continue in the Commerce field by studying accounting and economics in year 10 and at VCE.
In VCE Legal Studies students learn the basics of civil and criminal law and procedure as well as gaining an understanding of the institutions that make and reform our laws, and the relationship between the Australian people and the Constitution.
What skills do you think girls develop in those subjects that are useful beyond VCE and school?Critical life skills in terms of being in a better position to manage their finances and to recognise when legal issues arise and when and where to seek help.
Why do you think transferable skills are key in the future workplace, and what kinds of transferable skills do you think students learn at Fintona? I’ve read that 85% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t been invented yet. Even if that number doesn’t turn out to be accurate, the world and the world of work is changing at an ever-increasing pace and students need to be prepared to meet and even embrace those changes. Fintona helps students do that by developing transferrable skills such as:
An ability to work collaboratively. Whatever the future holds, an ability to work with others will be essential. This is taught not just through group work, but experientially through co-curricular activities such as teams sports, musical ensembles and camps
An ability to think critically. Students are taught to analyse information presented to them in order to form a judgement. The ability to problem solve will undoubtedly be essential into the future.
Creativity. students are encouraged to tap into their creative instincts, whether it be through music, fine arts, design or computer skills.
Strong communication skills, both in students’ writing and also public speaking.
Organisation and time management skills. Much effort is put into students developing strong study habits, which helps them succeed in their school years, but also prepares them for the future
How do you see Fintona is helping girls prepare for their future workplace and careers? We encourage students to take responsibility for their learning, enabling them to learn how capable they are. We support them through the inevitable disappointments, enabling them to learn from their experiences and to continue on to future success.