Finding My Career Path

25 January 2022

3 minute read

Our Director, Donna Scully, recently spoke to The Women in Insurance Global Network about finding her career path.

"I didn’t intentionally set out to become a lawyer because honestly I really didn’t know I wanted to become one! Lawyers did not come from where I did; socially and educationally, it was never an option I considered in my early career.

I left a busy Dublin Convent School at 16.  With no career guidance or advice, the assumption was that somebody like me would leave school at 16 and so that is what I did. I took a secretarial course and ended up (probably by chance) getting a job as a legal secretary; which was a very good job for someone from my background!

When I was 20 I moved to Newcastle. I got a job as a legal secretary and I really enjoyed it. By 21, I very quickly realised that I wanted more! I saw (for the first time) a career stretching before me and I knew I could find more career satisfaction and fulfillment.

I couldn’t afford to do a Law degree in the traditional way and so I found a longer (but cheaper) option and started study via the CILEX route, whilst working over a four year period. I went on to do Common Professional Exam now the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and eventually I qualified as a lawyer -it took me over 8 years but felt like 100!

After 3 years in London, I joined Carpenters Group, and over 25 years ago set up, with my co-owner John Carpenter personal injury and insurance services teams. Carpenters Group now employ over 1000 people and have offices in Merseyside, Scotland and Haywards Heath.

I have achieved things in my career that I never could have even imagined were possible. Sometimes I really do feel like I smashed through the glass ceiling (or at least made a very good job of trying!) and I feel very lucky to have been able to experience all that I have.

When I started out in law, it was hard to be taken seriously, particularly as a young woman without a university education and a strong Dublin accent! I suppose that’s why social mobility is so important to me. I hope I can be an example of what can be achieved, despite a fairly basic and humble start in life. I am not saying it was easy, I’d be lying if I said it was. It’s not. It’s really hard work!

My advice to anyone would be to work hard, grab any opportunities and chances that you are given and utilise the great mentors that you will invariably come across throughout your life. I can honestly say that I grabbed all of them! I learnt as much as I could, and I just ploughed on trying to do the best I could do.  I got a lot of stuff wrong but, luckily and equally, I also got a lot of stuff right too!

What’s my message? Believe in yourself, ask for and seek support, keep an open mind for learning and for failing (it teaches you most in life) don’t beat yourself up too much, dust yourself down and keep on learning, especially from your mistakes.

Above all, be grateful, humble and kind and most importantly always support others.  The world, especially right now, needs that from us."

Donna Scully
Director, Carpenters Group


Credit: Women in Insurance Global Network