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Meet the Board: Sarah Swindley and Andrew Wren

Over the coming months we’ll be sharing a Q&A with each of our Board members, to help you get to know them better and to learn what makes them ‘tick’. This month we’re introducing you to Andrew Wren, Principal and Chief Executive at Furness College, and our Diversity Champion, as well as Sarah Swindley, Chief Executive at the Lake District Foundation...

Who was the biggest influence on your career?
Andrew: I had a superb French teacher at school and she inspired me to study languages and to study abroad.

Sarah: Well I could say I have sought to model my leadership style on Captain Janeaway from Startrek but have ended up being more Selina Meyer from Veep, but that just reveals that I watch too much TV. The real answer is my father who taught me not to feel intimidated in any setting, that there was always something to learn from people even when I fundamentally disagreed and that finding a solution was always possible if you asked different questions.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Andrew: A police officer, like my dad.

Sarah: A lawyer. No regrets.

What was your first starting salary?
Andrew: £1.92 per hour cleaning hotel rooms in Carlisle as a student.

Sarah: Full time - 16k as a countryside ranger. But I started as a volunteer so zero.

If you could change one thing about your industry, what would it be?
Andrew: Better recognition for the incredible expertise in further education and the impact we have on people’s lives.

Sarah: That civil society and the third sector was truly recognised as adding economic value- not just social value – and offered incredibly rewarding careers.

Which achievement are you most proud of in relation to your career/working life?
Andrew: Becoming a college Principal – it is a privilege.

Sarah: Winning the GSK Impact Award for innovation in health - but like all these things it was very much a team effort. Also lots of smaller things that have made a difference. I was a counsellor for several years and I remember the journeys people shared with me with great pride.

Which single piece of career advice would you give your teenage self?
Andrew: Work harder at school.

Sarah: Do more of the boring stuff. Well, just a bit more. And know your value, your voice is needed.

Which four people, from any era, would you invite to a dinner party?
Andrew: Alan Turing – a genius who wasn’t appreciated in his lifetime, Margaret Thatcher – for a lively debate, Henry VIII – it would be fascinating and there would be plenty of food and Victoria Wood – the best comedian of my generation.

Sarah: Michael Stipe, Bertrand Russell, Mary Wollstonecraft, Richard Coles.

Which historical figure do you find most impressive and why?
Andrew: Boudica – she was willing to fight for what she believed in.

Sarah: Well all of us are flawed and the victors write the history - but maybe Shakespeare for the enduring themes in his plays. So much relevant today.

What was the first piece of music you remember buying?
Andrew: Save All Your Kisses for Me – Brotherhood of Man (the shame!)

Sarah: The Smiths – Meat is Murder

What is your favourite book and why?
Andrew: Hotel New Hampshire – John Irving. Beautifully written, moving and funny.

Sarah: Probably Three Men in a Boat, Jerome K Jerome - have always loved its gentle humour and I read it again with my father last year before we lost him.

What was the first car that you owned?
Andrew: Citroen 2CV.

Sarah: An old Volvo that had moss growing in the windows.

Favourite holiday destination?
Andrew: Portugal.

Sarah: Iceland.

Favourite holiday memory?
Andrew: Driving through the Florida Keys in an open-top Ford Mustang.

Sarah: Seeing a blue whale in Iceland

What’s top of your bucket list?
Andrew: Learn to fly.

Sarah: More whales in more places, I’m a bit obsessed with cetaceans.

Which single piece of advice for a happy life would you give your teenage self?
Andrew: Don’t worry so much – it will all work out fine.

Sarah: Keep doing what you are doing - it all turns out ok.

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