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Amanda Spafford

Managing Director at Deloitte

Class of 1980

Amanda joined Sheffield Girls' aged 9 and left in 1980. She remembers that she took an entrance exam and one of the questions was to describe a horse or an unusual animal - she wrote about the duck billed platypus and that was that!

Amanda studied History at St Andrews but has found in time that she is actually quite mathematical, she is now the equivalent of a Chartered Accountant and enjoys the logic of maths. She left the UK after University after winning a scholarship to Emory University in Atlanta in memory of Bobby Jones, the well-known golfer. Amanda changed tack from History to study accountancy and found something that she aced. She has now worked for Deloitte for 35 years and has reinvented herself several times. Most recently, she has been on two international secondments supporting member firms, i.e. those not in the US, to perform work in a US environment. The travel involved in Amanda's secondments in London and Africa, as well as short-term assignments across Europe and Canada, has been life-affirming. 

We spoke to Amanda to find out more about her life experiences and fascinating career:

What was your most memorable moment as a pupil at Sheffield Girls’? Our old scary secretary showed me where the RAF pilots (who were stationed there during WW2) had carved spitfires on the old building.  I was just in awe.

What have been the biggest challenges in your career, and the most rewarding parts of your job? The most rewarding part is being able to be challenged every day - nothing is ever the same and I love being able to be challenged daily.  So the challenging part is also the complexity of the issues that I need to resolve.  I also find managing people with differing needs and wants and keeping them motivated in a high stress environment very complex at times.

Do you think your education at the High School has influenced your career? As Sheffield High School is an all girls school, limitations based upon gender (which was definitely something that was around in the real world then) were just not part of any equation that I was part of or understood. So giving myself limits was just not part of the equation…that was all the High School.  The world was my oyster and I embraced it all.

What advice would you give your younger self (when you were at school)? Don’t feel inferior since you are not good at sports. That was a big one for me - it made me feel inadequate and the other extra curricular activities were really not offered.  A life lesson has been that trying, enjoying but not excelling is absolutely ok.

What advice would you give sixth form pupils at Sheffield Girls’ today? Everyone seems so much more sophisticated nowadays than we were. Most of us were focused on getting into a good university and there was no social media and the family was the core of our lives.  I don’t think that did us any harm.  I guess I would suggest that you are intentional about what you bring into your life - does it help you on your road to adulthood or does it not…just because everyone else is doing it, does not make it necessarily right for you.

What did Sheffield Girls’ do for you?  It gave me confidence to start my career journey.

A Levels: Geography, History and French

University: History at University of St Andrews


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