Lesley Ann Wolfenden

Country: United Kingdom
Sector: Non-profit - Other
Job title: Company Secretary
Subject of study: Sociology
Year of graduation: 1987
Type/Level of study: Undergraduate

Current Employer/Organisation Name

Business in the Community

What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?

I started work in London within 6 weeks of leaving Exeter. And I still work at the same charity I joined in 1987. The place is unrecognisable and no 2 days are the same. I was encouraged by an inspirational CEO to do the chartered secretary exams. These rank as a post-graduate qualification and I qualified in 1999. I am now a Fellow of the Governance Institute.

Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?

I was doing company secretary tasks and had the responsibilities in my job so it made sense to get the formal qualification and go ‘chartered’. As I work for an SME my role is quite diverse covering governance, legal, facilities, and liaison with the Chairman’s office and Clarence House (HRH The Prince of Wales is our Patron). Being awarded an LVO from The Prince of Wales for service to the royal household for 30+ years was a highlight.

Please tell us if you were a member of any societies, groups or sports clubs?

I was a member of the Badminton Club and represented the University in competition against other universities and clubs.

What did you enjoy most about your programme and what was the biggest highlight?

Biggest highlight was graduating with a 2:1. Meeting a wide range of people from different backgrounds, living in Hope Hall, which with hindsight was marvellously old-fashioned, and endlessly long debates with fellow students about politics and sociology.

What did you enjoy most about studying here?

The campus, the town, living in the South West.

Why did you choose to study at Exeter?

Because it’s in a beautiful part of the country and Exeter was and is an outstanding university. Of course the concept of the Russell Group wasn’t even born in 1984 when I applied.

What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?

Treat everyone the same. A CEO is still a regular person. Status doesn’t define you. Who you are inside does. You are more than your job.

What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?

Being a Chartered Secretary may seem a little dry but you are in the centre of decision-making, have the CEOs and Chairman’s ear and people look to you for grounded decisions.


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