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Student Review - ITG LIVE! Trip

On Thursday 17 January, seven of our students were lucky enough to be invited along to the ITG Live Show, to listen to talks from Professor Brian Cox, Randi Zuckerberg and Mary Portas.  It was a fantastic opportunity, and the students were all asked to share some of their thoughts about their day…

Our first speaker, Professor Brian Cox, explained the detailed physics behind the Big Bang and the start of our universe. He mentioned many scientists from Edward Hubble to Albert Einstein and described their works, theories, and how this contributed to the full understanding scientists now have of the universe. He described the size of our universe from our planet, to the solar system, to galaxies, to the Milky Way. He also described the star patterns within galaxies, such as why they were formed during the Big Bang and how in some areas, stars gather to form star cities. The use of an analogy of his life described the science behind future time travel and how it is impossible scientifically to go back to the past. He described how technology has helped scientists uncover the secrets of the universe and explained how the further use of technology in astronomical science can extend our knowledge of our solar system. His speech was intriguing and allowed us to understand the making of our universe and our place within it.

Our next speaker, Randi Zuckerberg, is a prominent figure in the social media world, having contributed to the start up of Facebook and created Facebook Live.  She now supports young entrepreneurs in starting their own businesses. Her speech made the audience think about the serious effects technology - not just social media - could have on our lives and for future generations. She argued that companies should not just visualise the end result of their project, but also the effects that could impact the public. She also said that the medium-term consequences of new technology should also be considered. Her example was the introduction of self-driving cars onto our roads. While she understands the passion felt by the engineers to introduce driverless cars, she would like them to consider how the transition to roads full of only self-driving cars will take place. The transition of a mix of manual cars and driverless cars could place a sense of fear and mistrust in the public as future plans begin. Inspired by her own life journey, especially by the creation of Facebook Live, she has found a way to support and guide young entrepreneurs in the creation of their own businesses. This shows that she believes in the young people of today to shape their future world and that she wishes to help them in every way possible. Her speech was a true insight into how our future may be changed by technology...and not necessarily for the better in the short and medium terms.

Our final speaker was the well-known and well-respected Mary Portas, who is a prominent figure in the world of retail. She talked about what to look at when starting a business and looking to maintain the success of a business. Her view was that to create a successful retail business, the most important aspect to look at is the customers.  The buying patterns of the public, the routines of people’s lives and what types of areas the public would be around and visit. The feeling of the shop or café that the business would like to create is vital, because the feeling has to impact a customer so strongly that they would wish to return again to experience the same feeling. Furthermore, happy employees are also important as they create good, friendly service, creating a good atmosphere, adding to the general feeling of the area. These aspects are what Mary Portas deems the most important to start a retail business. However, to maintain the success of a business the changes in the public’s shopping habits and the trends of the public, must be considered, to allow the business to change with their demands and needs, which she admits is very difficult to achieve. Her speech was informative not only to people already in businesses, but also to future retail entrepreneurs.

Sophie, Year 11


Last week I was lucky enough to get given the amazing opportunity to go to the Vox in Resorts World, Birmingham to see three prestigious speakers talk about the future of technology; Professor Brian Cox, Randi Zuckerberg and Mary Portas. Before going on this trip, my expectation levels were not very high as this topic is not my usual area of interest. However my views were soon changed by the three captivating talks, the atmosphere - and the fantastic food!

The first speaker at the event was Professor Brian Cox, who spoke about the universe, space and how technology affects and will affect these areas. I am not usually interested in these topics however this speech was very interesting and changed my initial opinion. This was due to the way Professor Cox delivered his speech, it was clear to see his enthusiasm and genuine interest in this area  which was infectious! After his enthralling talk, he had time to talk and take photos with us and was a very genuine and down to earth person to talk to. 

After this first speech, we had a delicious lunch, provided by the venue and it was soon time for the second speech. The second speaker was Randi Zuckerberg; author, business woman, and sister of Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook. She spoke about her early life and how she came to be in the position that she is in now. She spoke about how she came about inventing Facebook Live, which was fascinating. These aspects of her speech made it very personal. Not only was Randi excellent at keeping everyone interested throughout, she also provided humour, including songs and jokes and was her authentic self the whole way through. This personality was not present just while she was on stage but she was funny and inspiring when she came and spoke to us, encouraging us to follow our dreams and not let people tell us what we can and can't do.

The final speaker of the day was Mary Portas. She spoke about retail, shopping habits and how businesses succeed with and without the use of technology. Personally I was already interested in this area, so the speech interested and inspired me greatly. It was clear from her speech that Mary knew what she was talking about and has genuine skills in the area she is working in. Her confidence was inspiring as I hope one day, I will have the success in an area that I am genuinely interested in, like Mary. She was very authentic and unfiltered which made her approachable for people to ask questions and find out what they wanted to know from a retail expert. 

Elsa, Year 11



I thought Mary Portas was charismatically brilliant: she shared her positive outlook on the future of retail, clearly explaining how crucial the ‘feeling’ of a shop is to its success and popularity. I found her talk a pleasure to listen to and very insightful; she used lots of companies as examples when explaining, and her ideology around retail was fantastic.

Professor Brian Cox spoke about delving into the universe’s past in order to discover the future. He spoke on many topics ranging from other lifeforms to the link between time and space; I found his approach to the universe and his reasoning fascinating and thought-provoking. He came across as humble, gentle and knowledgeable and it was an absolute pleasure listening to him.

Randi Zuckerberg had such a lovable and enthusiastic personality – she shared her amazing career journey, talking about how her perseverance and hard work lead her to success in creating Facebook live and her own media company. Her talk was very inspiring and motivating, and she encouraged us all to have faith in ourselves and to keep achieving.

Imane, Year 11



The three speakers were all fascinating and it was interesting because I found them engaging for completely different reasons and because of this I really struggle to pick a favourite. It was also very useful to simply have a look into the business world from experiencing the whole event.

Professor Brian Cox's talk about our place in the universe was so well delivered making it easy to follow. It really left me thinking about the greater scheme of things and the possibility of different civilisations and if the human race would ever interact with one. The way he spoke really showed his understanding of the subject and it really re-sparked my love of physics.  It was a real privilege to be able to ask him a question about quantum mechanics after his talk when he agreed to have a photograph taken with us.

Randi Zuckerberg was so inspiring. The way she has achieved so much through hard work and then fulfilled her childhood dream of performing on Broadway really encouraged me. It was also riveting to hear her perspective - as one of the original contributors to Facebook - on the current impact of technology.  She talked about the need for some form scarcity within the digital age. She also talked about the need of a balanced use of technology and I would have loved to have asked her about her opinion of algorithmically fed content and what part that plays on people's constant use of social media. Talking as a group with her about girls in STEM was hugely motivational.

Mary Portas, despite the fact that I have no role (apart from as a consumer) in the retail market, managed to really enage me with her speech. Her description of what a business needs to do to be successful was very well put and it has resulted in me thinking about which businesses I tend to use and why their model worked. Similarly to Professor Brian Cox, her knowledge and understanding of what she was talking about was evident. Finally, hearing her interact with the different companies spokespeople showed the influence she holds within the retail world which was really impressive.

Evelyn, Year 11



On the 17th of January 2019, ITG – Inspired Thinking Group – hosted a live conference at The Vox Conference Centre on ‘The Future of Technology’; a really exciting and inspirational concept!

We began with a talk from Professor Brian Cox OBE who took us on a journey about our significance and rare advancement we have as a species today.  I found myself very taken aback as our eyes were opened up to the true vastness of our universe; being shown breath-taking images of the many galaxies (and planets within them) there really are. In particular, I found the introduction of the Event Theory really fascinating – according to which the experience of time is personal and differs between everyone, depending on the actions you make throughout your life. I also found his explanations of evidence for The Big Bang Theory (and what caused it), what Black Holes are, and how Black Holes distort ‘space-time’ really captivating. Finally, after ‘showing us the past to understand the present’, he talked of our potential existence on Mars in the future, and how technology can be used to inform us on these ventures and provide us with vital information on the interactions and conditions of other planets. This talk really inspired in me a further interest in not only Physics, but our future position and development within our galaxy (and the technological role within this).

Next, Randi Zuckerberg gave a talk on the role of social media and technology today. She began with some background to her story, telling us about her work at Facebook and her creation of Facebook Live. I found this really interesting in gaining a perspective of the early stages and pioneering work of a company (in this case Facebook) but also in understanding what was one of her main concepts in her talk – the importance of innovation. She talked of how in a world where content can be limitless, finding scarcity and creativity can be key to the success of a company or concept, as people are always looking for new experiences in what can be a crowded marketplace. This idea of creativity was continued as she expressed how giving everyone – particularly employees at a company (who can be main advocates for a company) - the freedom and time to be creative and generate thoughts can be really beneficial to forming very successful, new and exciting ideas. Here, she highlighted the importance of Hackathons (and adapting your own versions) where you are free to spend a night or extended period of time entirely focused on your own personal project. This all really inspired me to spend more time being creative and wild with my ideas, which can not only nurture self -growth but the growth of very successful concepts. She also highlighted that ‘everything is media’ and the how staying relevant and understanding that we are all our own media channels can be pivotal to success. Finally, she ended with a fantastic song about media to a tune from ‘The Little Mermaid’ , showing that despite moving into the technology industry, she was still able to pursue her dream of being on Broadway – which she did, starring in ‘Rock of Ages’ .

Finally, Mary Portas gave a talk on the changing retail world and how businesses can be successful in this shift. One of her key messages was adaptation to the changing consumer. I found her explanations of different types of consumer such as the ‘trapped traveler’ and the ‘destination traveler’ really interesting as I had never thought of customers in that way and had never thought of the many opportunities that they can provide to a business in targeting a particular consumer. She further talked of the importance of staying relevant by creating a good marketing campaign that promotes an important and relevant experience to a modern day customer,  that then supports a balanced online presence and physical presence on the high street (which to thrive in an ever internet-based world must be again supported by a good and innovative campaign but also must have a fresh and efficient layout and service, with ‘happy’ employees who are able to provide in depth understanding of a product to promote further  ‘discovery’ within a pleasant shop experience). I found particularly the emphasis on an experience or feeling attached to a product really interesting and can now see how important that can be in the success of a business. For instance, as Mary explained, businesses should not worry about targeting an age range, (and in that potentially leaving out another), but should instead target a pleasant and good feeling or experience attached to a product – which any age range will buy into. Mary’s talk has definitely  inspired me to further analyse the retail world as it changes, and businesses that I feel are very successful  - and in doing so-  see what makes them so successful, as this can be really interesting and helpful if I consider product or business development in the future.

Overall, this trip was really insightful, interesting and also very inspirational as I consider my own place and career choice in this drastically changing world. It really brought my attention to some more unique areas of work I hadn’t thought I’d be interested in and so was really valuable in provoking further personal research.

Katherine, Year 11



The technology talk was an extremely interesting and unique trip.  My eyes were opened to how quickly technology is becoming increasingly important in all of our lives.

Professor Brian Cox started with the beginning of the universe and the insignificance of the human reace.  This was a great way to start the talk as he started from the beginning of time and tried to explain the concept of time.  Physics isn't my favourite subject usually, but he was able to capture my full attention and I learned a lot!  After his talk, we were lucky enough to talk and get a picture with him.  Whatever question we asked him, he answered with depth and amazed us with how lovely he is.

Randi Zuckerberg was by far my favourite talk!  She was extremely energetic and not afraid to be herself.  I learned from her that life doesn't go the way you think or plan.  Her original plan was to be a Broadway star, but instead she crated Facebook Live!  She spoke about how marketing and advertising is evolving and how consumers are looking for more niche experiences.  Luckily afterwards, we were again given the opportunity to have a picture and talk with her.  She gave us advice and insight into being a woman in a field of work dominated by men.  The advice given inspired me and challenged some of the thoughts I had.

Mary Portas was very honest on the state of shopping in teh high street and in malls.  She was very comedic and interesting in terms of the opinions she shared.

The trip isn't one I'd usually go on, and I really enjoyed it.  It's definitely an experience i will never forget.

Juanita, Year 11


There is something very different about watching someone through a screen, and being provided with the opportunity to not only see them in person, but also meet them. Listening to Professor Brian Cox in person is something I’d never imagined I would do. Truthfully, it’s almost intimidating being face to face with someone who has revolutionised the way we view scientific discovery and changed the way we see how the universe around us shifts and changes. It’s mindboggling to be provided with an in-depth answer, and yet be pushed to ask more. It blew my mind discovering that in the parts of the universe that the earth can see there are 2 trillion galaxies, each with star systems that have their own planets, and that these parts are only a small segment of an ever expanding galaxy. The visuals were stimulating and the discussed topic were captivating. I thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity and given another chance I would like to ask him what his opinion is, as a physicist, on what happens to the human consciousness after we die.

Someone I had little knowledge of before attending this event was Randi Zuckerberg, the sister of Mark Zuckerberg. I had not realised just how much this ambitious woman had influenced the platform we know as Facebook. Ever heard of Facebook Live? Well I have, but I can tell you that I never realised that this platform had been created by the sister of the platforms owner; Randi Zuckerberg. A woman with many ambitions, who even when her dreams of being on Broadway were shot down, picked herself back up and made a name for herself in programming. As a woman. Her success allowed her to become known, meet celebrities and even make her childhood dream of being on Broadway come true in the recent production of Rock of Ages. Truly a talented woman. 

Now if you were to look in a dictionary for “efficient business woman and manager" I’m sure Mary Portas’ name would be the one you find under such a title. Hearing about her experiences with starting her own company gave me a completely new insight into what the industry can be like. Portas is a woman who knows what she wants and executes it well, conquering the business world in her own style without compromising her own qualities. It’s something many women and men would benefit from hearing about, since her style is truly something unique.

All in all it is an experience that was certainly one to remember; spoilt with delicious food alongside a fantastic learning opportunity. It is something I would recommend to everyone, and I would gladly watch it over again in a heartbeat if offered the chance.

Cassidy, Year 11