On 27th February students at Notre Dame Senior School from Year 9 to Year 13 had the incredible opportunity to attend a talk from an inspiring business woman, Lady Nicola Mendelsohn CBE. 
Nicola Mendelsohn is the Vice President of Facebook for Europe, the Middle East and Africa and has been in the this position since 2013. Nicola has worked in advertising for over 20 years, after originally graduating with a bachelor’s degree in English and Theatre Studies from the University of Leeds. However after a friends recommendation of looking into advertising, she took a graduate training scheme at Bartle Boyle Hegarty, a British global advertising agency. She ending up working for this company for about 11 years and during her time was promoted to Business Development Director. After her time at BBH, Nicola became Deputy Chairman of Grey London as well as the European Business Development Director for the Grey Communications Group. In 2008 she became partner and executive chairman at Karmarama, a London advertising agency. 

Then in 2013 Nicola was offered the job as Vice President of Facebook and during the talk Nicola even revealed she was going to turn down the job offer. However after a discussion with her husband she decided it was a once in a lifetime opportunity she couldn’t miss out on. Once she informed Facebook she was interested she completed many interviews however Facebook said she was unfortunately to late to the process. With grace and dignity Nicola sent a message to Facebook thanking them for the experience and fortunately enough Facebook realised the mistake they had made and hired her.

Nicola also serves on the Mayor of London’s Business Advisory Board and she is the non - executive director of Diageo. In 2015 Nicola was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to the creative industries. Also in 2015 Nicola was in Computer Weekly’s 50 ‘Most Influential Women in UK IT’. Nicola is a keen advocate for diversity and equality especially for women in the workplace which suites her most recent work, where she has published her own book.
On Thursday morning Mendelsohn appeared on Good Morning Britain to discuss her new book- Make it Work, Lessons from Life in Business as a part of the social media platform ‘#SheMeansBusiness’ which Nicola heads up. #SheMeansBusiness is a business initiative that is designed to provide entrepreneurial women with contacts, role models, advice as well as a budding community that have come together to support each other as powerful women in the workplace. 

The book consists of 14 inspirational business women, who share their wisdom with Mendelsohn as well as interesting Q&As. Some of the woman include Mel Bound, the founder of This Mum Runs who used Facebook as a platform to find a local running buddy however this plea from Mel is now a community of over 100,000 runners. Other women include Dame Carolyn McCall DBE, Sonali De Rycker and Chrissie Rucker OBE, who is the founder of The White Company. The students who attended the talk were lucky enough to receive a copy of Nicola’s new book. 
During the talk Mendelsohn was asked which women she found inspirational and as well as listing women who are included in her book, Nicola said that her grandma who ran a haberdashery business and her mum who still runs a catering firm, are two truly inspirational women for her. Being surrounded by entrepreneurial women inspired Nicola to lead a successful working life.

One of the students questions was about how Mendelsohn balances her work life with her family of four children. Nicola prided herself on being flexible for her family and that when her children asked her to be at a school event she would always rearrange her diary to fit their schedule. Nicola said she also takes the weekends off to spend time with her family.
Another student asked what her top tips for interviews were. Mendelsohn started off by saying that you must research the company you are applying for as well as getting some background information on the interviewer. Nicola said it’s important to look for years of information and not just a few months, as you can slip your knowledge very subtly into the interview. Nicola also said that you should prepare some questions to ask the interviewer as an interview goes both ways, and it’s important to see whether you are interested in the job. 
The issues of regulation on Facebook, was discussed during the talk and also talked about on Good Morning Britain where Nicola said ‘[Facebook] now have 35,000 people around the world that are working to make sure that the things your seeing everyday or even the advertising out there actually is good and true.’ Nicola also mentioned in the talk that 99% of ads or offensive posts and comments are taken down before any of the 2.9 billion people using the family of apps owned by Facebook, sees the posts. 
Another question asked was ‘What examples of jobs are there in the tech industry?, to which Nicola replied by saying there are engineers, advertising jobs, software developers and even at Facebook they have a cardiologist. A life changing platform on Facebook is Blood Donations. Facebook could see that in certain countries there was really difficulty at finding a blood donor, so on Facebook you can now sign up to be notified when a blood donor has your blood type. This platform has saved 50 million people worldwide. 
To sum up it was a great experience and all the girls present received a lot of helpful knowledge from Nicola about female empowerment and being a woman in the workplace as well as important advice. 

By Mercedes van Niekerk