How do you reflect upon your time spent at LSE?
I thoroughly enjoyed all of my three years. I made a lot of friends here who remain very close to this day. I loved my economics course, specialising in history. In fact I loved it so much that I used to feel guilty while reading the course material – it was so enjoyable it felt like I was not really working! Of course, the great thing is that it does not matter what course you do, because LSE sets you up fantastically for wherever life takes you afterwards. You soon realise that no matter how much material somebody gives you to read as part of your work, you know you can always get the essence out of it without panicking or without thinking: “I can’t do this.” This ability is a crucial part of what you learn here, and something that always stood me in good stead in my career.
Do you enjoy coming back?
Yes, on the odd occasion I can make it here. I was here recently for a debate for alumni on Brexit and that was very interesting. But when I can’t be here I still get all the regular updates and I know there are huge number of lectures and discussions covering pretty much everything that is going on in the world. It’s just a question of finding time to take advantage of it.
You’ve given philanthropically for around 20 years or so, and now you have decided to support scholarships through a legacy gift. What is your motivation for wanting to give in this way?
It’s very straightforward actually. About eight years ago, I was invited to a legacy lunch at which students spoke about how much a legacy gift had meant to them. One girl in particular stood up and told us that the school she went to was the kind where you would get beaten up if you were ever caught reading a book. Her opportunities in life had been limited until she was able to come to LSE via a legacy scholarship. She spoke about how it had completely and utterly transformed her life, and was crying tears of gratitude as she spoke.
I told myself that I had to do something for a student when I am gone. I just want somebody like her to have the opportunity to do a degree which otherwise wouldn’t be possible financially. I was so moved by her story and the depth of her gratitude. I realised just how much this meant to somebody like her, what a difference it made to their life, and I felt I had to leave the money for someone else to do it.
Is there a specific reason why you chose to give in the form of a legacy gift?
It just seemed the right way to do it. I have left legacy gifts to other institutions as well. My children, fortunately, are doing relatively well so I am not unduly concerned about giving some of their inheritance to worthwhile causes. Frankly, the more people we can get to do this, the better.