British Library’s Chief Operating Officer speaks volumes about career choices

  • Posted On: 18 February 2019
  • Author: Jill Lundberg
British Library’s Chief Operating Officer speaks volumes about career choices

Phil Spence, Chief Operating Officer with the British Library, proved to be an extremely popular guest speaker for the Year 12 students. With a fascinating career history, including directorships in the public and private sectors, Phil talked to the students about the paths he chose since his A-levels at a comprehensive school in Scarborough, sharing insights and words of advice on planning further education and career routes.

Alistair Lunn, Year 12 student led the event. This was a great leadership opportunity for Alistair and he did a brilliant job, posing questions on behalf of his fellow students, ensuring a lively and engaging Q&A session throughout the afternoon.  

Comments Phil: “I can remember the underlying anxiety about what I might do when I was this age and I didn’t have any career experts or anyone to talk to.  I also didn’t know what I wanted to do and it’s a legitimate position to be in. It’s not something the students should be frightened of as opportunities do come along.”

Liz Mannion, Manager Careers and Employability, organised the event through the charity ‘Speakers for Schools’, which helps state schools access influential leaders of today, for free, giving students the opportunity to share guidance and expertise on how to progress their career choices.  Liz said: “Speakers for Schools" helps our students to aim high with their career aspirations and meet influential leaders, such as Phil Spence. Phil is committed to supporting North Yorkshire students and has offered work experience at The British Library.”

Phil talked about his education and the pressure on him to go into a medical career but he decided to study Psychology and pursue a career in Operations and Human Resource Management which led to senior management positions.  He explained about his most challenging and enjoyable role which was managing the Scottish Ambulance Service.  Phil also shared some really interesting facts and figures about the British Library. 

They receive a copy of every publication produced in the UK and Ireland
3 million new items are added every year
They house 8 million stamps and other philatelic items
All this requires over 625 km of shelves, and grows by 12 km every year
If you see 5 items each day, it would take you over 80,000 years to see the whole of the collection
Over 16,000 people use the collections each day (on site and online)
Incredible collections include: The Magna Carta, The Beatles Manuscripts, Leonard da Vinci’s Notebook.

For more interesting information about the British Library visit:

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