Rishi Saha gives inspirational talk to Misbourne Students

On 12 June students from Year 12 and Year 10 attended an inspirational talk in the Sixth Form Study Room by Rishi Saha, Director of Public Policy for Amazon.

Rishi, 39, spoke about his unusual career journey so far - the likes of which we will surely see more of in the future - and gave the students his top tips for making decisions about their own futures.

At Amazon, Rishi said the language about decision making is about ‘one-way door decisions’ and ‘two-way door decisions’. ‘One-way door decisions’ are more rare and are not reversible but luckily, most decisions are reversible and that is how Rishi urged students to consider their career choices. Taking what is perceived by some to be a risk can work out very well, especially when family and friends are sometimes unwittingly putting pressure and giving advice that sometimes is not accurate or up-to-date. His career journey demonstrates this.

Rishi’s current job at Amazon, and his previous similar role at Facebook, had not even been invented when he was school age; students today similarly are preparing for jobs and careers that have not yet been invented. So you should focus on what you’re good at and what you enjoy, setting yourself high standards on your educational journey that can be demonstrated in one way by grades and in other ways by showing your passion, engagement, curiosity and reflection on the decisions you have made already.

After being not entirely happy with his A-level choices, Rishi opted to study Ancient History at university. There, he moved away from academic progress and pivoted toward a career as a party promoter and then nightclub owner.  On graduating he ran nightclubs in the Midlands and then London.

His talents then led him down a different path, running for Parliament in 2005. Although he was not elected, this led to working with an up-and-coming party leader who went on to become the Prime Minister: David Cameron. Rishi was a senior adviser to Cameron on digital communications for six years.

He then moved to work in Dubai for three years before joining Facebook and his current role in Amazon. He has interviewed ‘hundreds’ of people for jobs and imparted some great advice for the students who listened intently.

Rishi’s top tips were:

  1. Be willing to learn new things all the time.
  2. Consider which people you surround yourself with - are they diverse and open to you being successful as you wish, and can you learn from them?
  3. Don’t always feel you need to make the obvious choices. Something that is less popular now may be much more popular in the future. Be aware that you may in the future be working in a role that hasn’t been invented yet, so keep on challenging yourself and learning new skills all the time.

Rishi’s talk was inspirational about decision making and risk taking, and setting yourself goals and high standards all through your career. He left students with the thought, when making decisions, ‘what’s the worst that could happen’? Then go for it!

The Misbourne is grateful to Speakers for Schools for making Rishi’s visit possible.



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