On 17 May, KPMG’s mentors and their Fifth and Sixth year CBS Westland Row students enjoyed their annual summer social event. This year instead of the usual activity of bowling/go-cart racing or an adventure centre, the mentoring group got to do a unique activity that wouldn’t be open to many people – they got a personalised training session with Katie Taylor and her dad and coach Peter Taylor!
Katie Taylor is one of Ireland’s most inspiring athletes. Katie is the current Irish, European, World and Olympic Boxing Champion in the 60 kg division. A native of Bray Co. Wicklow – Katie has inspired a nation with her talent, commitment and dedication – no more so when she won gold for Ireland at the London 2012 Olympics last year. Katie is undoubtedly the most outstanding Irish athlete of her generation and KPMG organized this event so that the students in the Mentoring programme could be inspired by her dedication, determination, hard work and commitment.
The mentoring group arrived at Katie’s boxing club in Bray and spent an hour and a half being put through a fairly rigorous training session that saw them do a lot of full-on, hard core exercises that focused on mobility, flexibility, balance and core strength. At the end of the tough session, the group got to do some sparring movement in the boxing ring with Peter Taylor before having a Q&A session with Katie.
The feedback from the group was universally positive and everyone was effusive about what a fantastic opportunity it was to see where and how Katie trains on a daily basis.
CBS Westland Row teacher, John Davis, spoke about the event and the impact of the Mentor programme his own words:
“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.” -Muhammad Ali
“I was reminded of this quote on the 9 August 2012 when Katie Taylor won Gold in London. She had to dig deep against an opponent who had previously beaten her, and she rallied in the third round with the kind of determination and skill that has made her a four-time world champion. When the referee eventually raised her hand a nation celebrated.
I also recalled Ali’s lines on the 17 May, 2013 when a group of Fifth and Sixth year students from CBS Westland Row and their KPMG mentors met and travelled to a humble gym in Bray to spend a few hours with Gold Medallist and World Champion Katie Taylor. On that beautiful May day we trained, sparred, chatted and were inspired by Katie and her father, Peter. They talked to us about hard work, about dedication, about sacrifice and about achieving our dreams. They embodied these values throughout the day. In the spartan surroundings of Bray Boxing Club, nothing seemed impossible. This incredible experience was arranged by Karina Howley and her colleagues at KPMG.
For ten years KPMG has been involved behind the lines with the students of CBS Westland Row. I say with because the relationship has not been motivated by external recognition, but rather by meeting the needs of our students unconditionally. This hard work involves a two year commitment from KPMG employees who agree to mentor a student during their senior cycle in school. They meet with their student on a scheduled basis, once a month, to discuss topics such as careers, work experience, educational direction, approaches to study, CVs, interview preparation and sometimes things that are more important than any of these topics. This is a most significant contribution to my role as Guidance Counsellor as the mentor provides a critical additional support to the student and the school in assisting the young person to navigate the difficult final years of secondary school.
I know the mentors get something out of the programme. The school benefits from a tremendous relationship with a world class company. But the students gain most, something both palpable and intangible. The relationships that develop between the mentors and mentees are the most fundamental aspect of our long relationship with KPMG. In my experience over the years the Mentoring Programme has been instrumental in encouraging students to stay in school, in increasing their self-esteem and in helping young people develop an awareness of the workplace, of their community, and of themselves.
In 2016, when Katie defends her title in Rio, the current First Years in CBS Westland Row will be preparing to sit the Leaving Certificate. They will be in the second year of their involvement with the Mentoring Programme with KPMG, facilitated by Business in the Community and the Schools’ Business Partnership. The work done by these partners is done far away from witnesses – behind the lines, long before the young people dance under their graduation lights.”
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