After Roedean, Catherine Tooke (Phillips, No. 3, 1993-99) studied Classics at Oxford, with thoughts of being either a lawyer or an author. Instead, following she moved into a highly successful career in retail. Since then she has worked at some of the biggest names in retail, including Karen Millen, Crew Clothing, Ralph Lauren and now Sweaty Betty. She talks below about her memories of summers at Roedean, balancing a family and a career and an impressive travel bucket list!
What is your favourite memory of Roedean?
Favourite memories are almost always around summer term - playing rounders in the sunshine / finishing exams / lying in the sun with friends in the grounds, with a bag of sweets or ice lollies from the tuck shop.
What was the best piece of advice you were given whilst at School?
It doesn’t cost you anything to be kind to people.
When you were at Roedean, what did you want to be when you ‘grew-up’?
I think I either wanted to be an author or in investment banking! Retail didn’t feature until after uni!
What are you now you’ve grown up?
I’m the Senior Vice President of Product and Planning at Sweaty Betty.
What does your job involve?
Basically I over see design stories which bring our concept of what empowering feminine activewear is into leggings / bras and other categories. We then produce it in factories across the world and deliver it across all our channels and regions.
What have you done that you are most proud of?
Probably somehow managing to achieve a balance between my career and my family. I get it wrong all the time - but I love that I have both and find it so important to have that balance in my life.
What are the three objects you would take with you to a desert island?
A complete set of all Jilly Cooper novels, my glasses so I can spot passing ships, and a endless supply of Cote de Provence rose (am I allowed to say that?!)
What books have had a significant influence on you and why?
The god of small things - just because it’s such a wonderful book that I revisit just for the joy of the language in it. The 7 habits of highly effective people - brilliant insight into how to manage yourself / your time and your impact on other people at work.
What is on your bucket list?
A year long world tour with my husband and children - with many specific destinations - a safari in Africa, a trip through the Amazon, walking the Great Wall of China, and many other places and sights!
If you had one year and unlimited funds, what would you do?