07 April 2021

Old Birkonian, Admiral .Sir Philip Jones, delivers an insightful lecture to students as the latest speaker in the the School's Nicholls Lecture Series entitled 'Dealing with Imposter Syndrome, Embracing Meritocracy, Exploiting Opportunities'.

"I genuinely believe that my ability to make it in that world (the Royal Navy) was down to the gifts and skills that I was given at Birkenhead School." Admiral Sir Phiip Jones, March 2021

By David Taylor, Deputy Head Student

The most recent lecture in the Nicholls lecture series was presented by Admiral Sir Philip Jones, an old Birkonian who served as First Sea Lord of the Royal Navy from 2016-2019. It was a great privilege to receive a lecture from such a high-ranking individual and his words came with extra power knowing that he had achieved his career as a pupil of Birkenhead School.


The title of the lecture was: 'Dealing with Imposter Syndrome, Embracing Meritocracy, Exploiting Opportunities' and it was through these three ideas that Sir Philip Jones’ humbly described his career. 

Sir Philip began the lecture with a brief outline of his childhood and career. He was born on the Wirral and attended a local primary school before studying at Birkenhead School. As the first person in his family to go to university he studied at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth and Oxford University. From there he progressed through the ranks of the Navy until being appointed First Sea Lord in 2016, the highest position in the Navy.

Although he acknowledged what an achievement it was to reach such a powerful position, he described his success not just as a result of his talents, but rather because of his ability to seize the opportunities that he was presented in the meritocracy of the Navy. And his message to students revolved around this point. He said that anyone can succeed if they are able to work hard to bring out the abilities they have inside them and by seeing and taking the opportunities that are presented. If you are able to do this, then the presence of imposter syndrome should be diminished because any success that you achieve is fully deserved.

The lecture ended with some questions from students in the Sixth Form. When asked where the First Sea Lord goes to for advice he spoke about the importance of friendships within the Navy as well as relationships with the other heads of the armed forces as sources of help and advice. 

On behalf of the School, I would like to thank Admiral Sir Philip Jones for giving us his time to speak to us and giving us his advice on how best to tackle the challenges of the world.

The lecture took place via Zoom webinar and was open to students in Year 10 to Upper Sixth.