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Student Stories

Ally Hogg - University of Stirling

Make Your Mark Ambassador 2021/22

“The world we live in today constantly feeds your inner critic which can erode your confidence. Just think about it, there are all those social platforms out there, where people constantly post what might not even be real, yet we compare ourselves to them. It’s relentless,” says Ally Hogg.

Ally is a fourth and final year student studying accountancy and finance at Stirling University, with his sights set on becoming a  chartered accountant.


“I’ve always pushed myself  harder than anyone else has ever pushed me, I’ve always set myself super  high expectations, and I’ve also always struggled with being my own worst enemy,” Ally says.

That’s why, having achieved eight highers (Scottish qualifications that can lead to further study) and being close to finishing his degree at a university he loves, Ally says he ‘was shocked’ to have only recently learned about the inner critic and given the tools and techniques to help him manage it – something that happened outside his formal education.

“I’ve  spent the best part of my 21 years in education, but my 12-week summer 2021 internship with investment managers, Baillie Gifford, of which Susan Room’s Make Your Mark coaching programme was a highlight, is the most influential thing I’ve ever done for my career,” says Ally.

The Make Your Mark programme, which uniquely blends voice and executive coaching to help people feel, look and sound confident is, Ally believes, “one of the critical things that education lacks”.

Ally describes how he sees a stark divide between how business and university works, something that’s widened in the pandemic, and isn’t helpful for young people bridging into the world of work.

“You learn great things at university but there’s so much more they could do  to prepare you for the real world. It’s not just that these types of critical skills are lacking in education, it’s the entire approach.

“In education you’re invited to ‘go have a chat’ if you have a problem. But Make Your Mark’s positioning is completely different. It’s about recognising that  everybody struggles, regardless of where you are in your career, but there are things you can do about it.

“Rather than waiting for a problem to arise, this coaching approach is about preventing something from escalating that can cripple your confidence. Everyone is human, everyone faces these struggles so being able to talk, express yourself and learn in this way is super important.”

Of the four-module programme, Ally shares the standout for him was the one about the inner critic, (which can sabotage how you think), because it fundamentally shifted his mindset to help him understand what he can and can’t control.

“I’ve worked hard since the programme to shut my inner critic up and take a step back,” explains Ally, who can find it hard to step out of the vicious circle of  self-doubt when caught in it.

Make Your Mark taught me how to take a step back, to see what’s actually happening and within my control, then decide what I want to achieve and how I’m going to get there.”

But he admits all four modules were useful.

“Even the Zoom techniques for how to better present myself have already helped me in interviews.”

Ally is hugely grateful to Baillie Gifford for his Make Your Mark experience and believes other employers could learn a lot from them about how they develop and show they care for people.

“Baillie Gifford just seems to understand that when you give people a platform like Make Your Mark to improve themselves, that’s when you get the best out of them.”

What he can’t understand and remains genuinely shocked about though is that this type of learning is completely absent from education when it’s so critical. Especially when he can immediately point to so many others who would benefit from it.

“There is so much outdated learning in education, we’re still taught things that are never going to serve you or an employer. Just imagine if they swapped that  sort of thing with learning some of these critical skills. Imagine how  much impact that would have on someone’s life,” says Ally. “To say this coaching experience has been a huge bonus is an understatement.”

That’s why since completing the programme, Ally has gone onto become a Make Your Mark ambassador – a voluntary role that sees him sharing his coaching experiences and encouraging his peers to engage with it, including signing up for a free-to-attend place on Susan’s annual student Winter  School.

Make Your Mark has taught me a lot about myself, it’s given me the opportunity to be who I want to be. I don’t want to get too emotional but it’s hard not to when I’m so passionate about this. My coaching experience has genuinely helped me…a lot. There was someone out there who understood coaching’s benefits and enabled me to access it. Now I understand that I too want to give someone else the opportunity to experience coaching and I’m passionate about making it available to help other young people.”

Ally Hogg is in his final year at the University of Stirling studying Accountancy  and Finance ‘on a beautiful campus in a beautiful place’. When he’s not at uni he lives in a ‘wee’ village just outside Perth. He’d love to graduate and work with a progressive employer who, like Baillie Gifford, ‘genuinely cares for the happiness and development of their  people’. His interest in business began at an early age when he would listen to his parents ‘talking shop’ - both have run their own businesses during their careers. It’s led him to become fascinated by how the backbone of industry really works. His goal is to see those inner workings by becoming a chartered accountant.


"There is so much outdated learning in education, we’re still taught things that are never going to serve you or an employer. Just imagine if they swapped that sort of thing with learning some of these critical skills. Imagine how much impact that would have on someone’s life."

— Ally Hogg, University of Stirling
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