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Old Girl honoured at Centenary Weekend

Nicola Sladden giving a speech at a podiumNicola Sladden was one of two Old Girls added to the Queen Margaret College Old Girls’ Association Honours Board at Centenary Weekend in June.

Below she writes about what she’s been up to since leaving school and how being a QMC Old Girl has influenced her life.

“I attended QMC from Years 9–12 [1981–84], I am a proud member of Lochleven. I left after Year 12 to study law at Victoria University, following in the footsteps of my lifelong friend and Old Girl Jackie Liddell.

“My favourite memory of QMC is the strong sense of ‘sisterhood’ – the tremendous friendships forged.

“The most important lesson QMC taught me is to give things a go. These days we call it having a growth mindset. The Presbyterian work ethic of rolling your sleeves up has certainly helped me get to where I am today. As the kids say, ‘do the mahi, get the treats!’.

“I trained as a lawyer and worked in private practice before moving overseas. My husband and I worked in Quito, Ecuador, which really broadened our perspective. I then completed a Masters of Public Health at Boston University and came back to New Zealand where I worked for the Health and Disability Commissioner.

“I was appointed the Banking Ombudsman in August 2015. The Banking Ombudsman Scheme helps resolve and prevent banking problems. I am also a consultant for the World Bank and I’m on the board of FinCap and the Malaghan Institute.

“My interest in helping others to resolve disputes stems from a passion for problem solving. I think we have all experienced being misunderstood.

“I have a high level of empathy for people who feel they haven’t been heard. At its heart, it is about helping people. I have always wanted to make a positive difference.

“My greatest achievement is having four wonderfully diverse children. My biggest challenge is keeping a healthy balance. Sometimes work takes over my life and I forget where the ‘off’ switch is.

“As I said in my speech at Centenary Weekend, I was a young woman in a hurry. I rushed off to University and missed Year 13 with all the positive things that go with it and the tremendous leadership opportunities it provides.

“My advice for current QMC students is to be kind, curious and take as many opportunities as you can. Work hard but make time for fun things and try to get involved in any team sport. It’ll teach you more about life than you would expect. Don’t take devices into bed. Take a book!

“Being a QMC woman has made me who I am today. The 3 C’s; courage, contribution and connectedness; all started here at Hobson Street.”