Théa’s Passion for People and Positivity

Théa’s Passion for People and Positivity

17 April 2024

Théa Gibson née Georgiades, who left Bolton School Girls’ Division in 1998, returned to deliver an uplifting third Platt Fisher Lecture entitled A Passion for People and Positivity.

Addressing a large Great Hall audience of pupils and friends of the School, Théa, who is a Director at Deloitte, the largest professional services firm in the world, spoke about her passion for people, purpose and positivity. She said that she is often told that she brings the energy and that she inspires and motivates people, and this was certainly something that Théa achieved on the evening. Her aim, she said, was to leave people with a sense of excitement about the future and a belief that they are capable of great things.

Much of the address was delivered by Théa as if she was advising her younger self. She asked the audience to picture what success looks like for them and made the point that it will look different for each person. Sharing her own story, Théa told how she studied Modern Foreign Languages at the University of Leeds – she turned down the chance to go to Oxford because her dad was unwell and she wanted to be closer to home – and how she went on to qualify as a Chartered Accountant at Deloitte. Théa, a Greek Cypriot, explained that besides her work at Deloitte, she is a daughter, a sister, an auntie, a friend, a wife and a mum to three teenage children. She related how she had all her children in 2010 – a son in January who is in Year 9 and twin girls in December who are in Year 8.

Considering what makes us happy, Théa encouraged the cultivation and keeping hold of good friendships and told how strong social ties increase our happiness and lifespan. She reflected upon her own 33-year friendships with Leah and long-term friendship with Emma who she met at university. Looking back on her school days, Théa said she was lucky to have received a full scholarship and that becoming Deputy Head – as voted for by her peers – was a highlight. She told how her brother and sister also attended Bolton School and how she had the fondest of memories. She said it has been a privilege to attend such a school but that she had put lots of pressure on herself. She advised the current cohort to know how and when to relax and to carve out slots for self-care. Think about what you are grateful for and what went well that day was her advice – and do not dwell in the past or worry about the future. In life, she said, there are highs and lows – we cannot control external events but we can choose how we respond to and grow from them.

Recalling her early years, Théa said she had no friends at Nursery as she was shy and her first language was Greek so she couldn’t speak English back then. She thanked her primary school teacher Mrs Johnson, who was in the audience, for bringing her out of her shell. She also praised lots of Bolton School teachers and told the gathering to not leave it until it is too late to thank people who have made a difference in your lives.

In work, Théa advised that you find your personal sweet spot in life – a combination of your strengths, your passions and what your place of work and the world needs from you. She revealed how she has worked non-stop for 27 years, relaying how she started work aged 16 at JJB Sports in Leigh, was employed in a shoe shop and at AQA whilst at university. She said she developed a good work ethic and her people skills in her various roles before joining Deloitte. Reviewing her nineteen years there, she explained how, because it is such a large firm, she had been able to enjoy various roles. Work, she said, all boils down to people and relationships – people are the golden thread throughout a career.

Théa advised students that it is okay not to know what you want to do when you leave school or university. She also suggested thinking outside of the box and to consider non-traditional roles. In her own workplace, she told how she is a coach and how she runs a 15-minute positivity session on Mondays. Utilising a number of quotes across the evening, she cited Mark Twain who said the secret of getting ahead is getting started. She advised how our brains love a reward and how we should all strive to find the passions that light us up. You can choose how and when you do what you love, she informed the audience – and it is never too late! According to a Chinese proverb, Théa said, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago but the second-best time is now. Life, she said, is not a race and it is never too late to start your journey.

Another message to her younger self would be, she said, to remember that your thoughts become your actions. She advised visualising your goals and talked about how being positive is really important. In her own workplace, she said there are now so many female role models and that careers for women are improving. Théa also stressed that exercise is really important and that she moves as much as she can through the likes of jogging, Pilates, skipping and walking. She told the gathering that they must prioritise their health and that other non-negotiables were limiting your intake of ultra-processed foods, sleeping well, getting out in the morning light and drinking lots of water.

Théa made the point that it should be us that determine our value not others. She advised everyone to keep improving their skills, to keep learning and to practise positive body movement. Positivity is, she said, infectious. She also espoused the virtue of raising money for charity and told how, last month, she, along with others, raised over £15,000 for Maggie’s. Talking to her younger self, she said your skin won’t be spotty for ever and to study hard but know that your results are not everything. She also advised herself to get comfortable with being uncomfortable and to swim in your own lane and to celebrate what makes you, you. It will enable you to stand out, she advised.

Théa also endorsed taking time to be still and time away from social media. If possible, she said, be consistent and have a plan and, also, to please be kind to everyone you come across – it will add to your own life. It is important, she opined, to say no when you have too much of your own to deal with. Her advice was to lead with a smile, always use people’s names, look them in the eye, listen to understand them, assess what they value and flex your style accordingly – find out what makes them tick, celebrate their wins and always be genuine. Quite simply, she said, let yourself be happier; thrive, don’t just survive. Happiness, she said, is not found at the finish line – it is a dance to be danced. Ending on another two quotes, she said life is not about arriving in the future, it is about arising in the moment and those that are afraid to die have not lived. And, finally, she implored her young audience to remember to have fun along the way!

Earlier presentations in the Platt Fisher series saw Dr Sheila Fisher talk about ‘Learning from Living’ in the inaugural lecture in 2022 and Lisa Jacobs, last year, talking about how fintech is changing the world.

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