Emily Dow - St Andrews University
Make Your Mark Ambassador 2021/22
“I’m not very good at sitting still and just accepting things,” begins Emily Dow, who is studying for a Financial Economics MA at the University of St Andrews.
Anyone who knows Emily knows just how much of an understatement that is. This young woman is a force of nature, radiating extraordinary energy and enthusiasm.
Last summer she interned with the asset managers, Baillie Gifford. Over the winter holidays she did the same with boutique Majedie Asset Management in London. And, Credit Suisse has already confirmed her summer 22 placement in their securities research analyst department.
Emily says it’s a thirst for learning that drives her and while she wants to keep her options open for what comes after uni, she knows it will be working with an intellectually rigorous employer that will fuel her curiosity and commit to her ongoing development.
It was during her internship with Baillie Gifford that Emily experienced coaching for the first time – participating in Susan Room’s Make Your Mark programme.
“Baillie Gifford is fantastic at giving so many opportunities, Make Your Mark was one of them and, I’m almost embarrassed to say, it just fell into my lap. The sessions simply appeared in my diary without any explanation or fanfare. The first was at 09:00 on a Monday morning and I remember thinking ‘this is going to make or break my week’. I was completely hooked within about five minutes.”
Given Susan’s Make Your Mark programme is all about giving people the tools and techniques to feel, look and sound confident, you’d be forgiven for questioning what Emily, a self-described extrovert who loves nothing more than meeting and chatting to new people, found so enthralling. Without hesitation she explains:
“It’s very easy to convince people you are confident externally but if you don’t believe it internally it makes things very difficult for you.”
For while Emily has always strived for excellence, she describes how she’s never felt deserving of, or able to accept, praise. As her childhood unfolded negative thoughts would periodically pester her until it ‘just became habit to accept them’ – something that’s been sabotaging her inner confidence.
“What I find astonishing is that nobody’s even vaguely touched on anything Susan shared in those Make Your Mark sessions during my education. It was refreshing to see somebody so passionate about sharing skills that are so incredibly important. What I know is my mindset has fundamentally shifted for the better since this programme and I’m now working hard to build a foundation of self-confidence rather than wearing a mask.”
Emily believes the overarching theme of Susan’s programme is about having empathy and respect for yourself. She explains that as soon as she understood and started building upon that, everything just fell into place. She’s noticed, for example, at interviews she’s been integrating skills from the programme’s speech modules.
“This programme has genuinely helped me make incremental changes to the things I do. There’s no one pivotal thing, but it’s surprising just how quickly all those incremental changes build up over time.”
Having had this transformative experience Emily was keen to share it rather than keep it to herself.
“I knew from that very first session with Susan that I wanted to be a Make Your Mark ambassador. I could immediately see the impact this learning was going to have on me, and I wanted to shout about it from the roof tops.”
But what also drove Emily to want to become an ambassador was her curiosity - to understand and help address why it is young people don’t get access to these so called ‘soft’ yet ‘super’ skills coaching affords.
“I feel a responsibility to raise awareness about coaching and help other young people see that what they are feeling and how they are acting is okay,” says Emily. “But I’m also curious about why we have a model that only gives people access to a coach once they’ve succeeded? It makes no sense and it’s not a model I want to accept. Young people need these skills at the outset of their careers. I’m not suggesting that every young person should automatically be handed an executive coach for free, but something needs to change. I’ve become an ambassador to help create that change because I firmly believe we need to give young people the key to success - and that key is coaching.”
Emily Dow is in the third of a four-year Financial Economics MA studying at the University of St Andrews. It’s a degree that provides her with ‘the perfect balance of analytical thinking and freedom of thought, while studying in a beautiful beachside location with a university that has surpassed all expectations’. Emily is Head of the Consumer Goods and Services Sector for the University’s Investment Society as well as a keen writer. She contributes regularly to The Roosevelt Group, the St Andrews Economist and also publishes a regular blog the 'financial download'.