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Haberdashers' Knights Academy

An interview with our Principal Dr Tesca Bennett

Here is an extract from Dr Tesca Bennett's interview with Kunle Olafare at SK Financial about her journey and experiences in education so far...


How did you become a school Principal?

I didn’t always necessarily want to become a school principal. My passion has always been science. After finishing research and development and my PhD (I used to work in an area of biological sciences and chemistry), I started my own business.

One day a job came up that sort of ticked all the boxes of my skills from my PhD and my previous experiences, it really hit home. Actually, I’m not doing what I love. I’m doing something that I’m good at. I’m doing something that I’m successful at, but I’m not doing something that I love. That had always been my by-line. So I applied to become a teacher through the Fast Track teaching scheme.


What tips would you suggest to a young professional starting in their new career?

This world is full of opportunities. Don’t get me wrong, there are challenges but that is life, isn’t it? Take every opportunity that is offered to you. Be open minded, be brave to open every door.

Be prepared to learn. Learning is not a lesson, it's not a subject, learning is what we do every single day in our life.


How can the financial services profession improve the financial education that students receive?

I think the finance profession is quite opaque. There is a lot of hidden language, too many acronyms to understand. For example, with investments, the saying “the value of the investments could go up as well as down.” Actually, what you’re saying is that, be prepared that you can lose this money. Simple!

It’s fine that experts can come into schools, but I’d like to see these experts be brave and say we’re not going to baffle people, we’re going to make financial security more accessible by starting with financially educating children, so that they are learning good habits.


What do you most enjoy about your role?

Talent spotting and developing people. It’s about making sure that we are creating the pipeline for people to come up and rise to senior levels. It’s about giving people opportunities.


What’s the best advice that you have benefited from?

The courtesy to really listen. I think about when a member of staff wants to speak to me, I need to be aware that they are not just speaking to another colleague, they are speaking to their boss. Sometimes they may want something done or something is bothering them. So one of the things that I really try to do is listen. I’m not always successful at this, it’s something I strive to do better at every day.


What’s your favourite quote?

It’s a Maya Angelou quote, “when a person shows you who they are first time believe them”. So seeing somebody for who they are, their characteristics, their traits, their strengths, their weaknesses. An authentic quote from a very influential lady.


What would you now like to have known that you didn’t know before?

To have been brave and know that it’s okay to fail. I spoke about adversity being where you do the best learning. I wish that I knew how brave and strong I was. Perhaps I would have said yes to more opportunities, that’s why I encourage others to be brave.