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Claire Griffiths: incoming Johnian Society Chair

Posted on Jan 25

3 min read

Johnian Society News & Events

Claire Griffiths (1985) became the Johnian Society Chair earlier this month. Claire studied Classics at St John’s and after graduating she worked as a European Smaller Companies fund manager for more than 25 years, ultimately as a partner at a large investment management firm and subsequently at a boutique hedge fund. We asked her a few questions about her life since St John’s and her hopes for the Johnian Society.

Whilst at St John’s you rowed with LMBC and won your oar in the Lent Bumps, have you stayed in contact with any other crew members?

Yes: some of my closest friends to this day were part of those crews and I am glad LMBC was a part of my College experience. It is lovely to be able to maintain and develop links with the club beyond those undergraduate years, through friendships and by returning to College for events. By coincidence, the new President of the Johnian Society, Annamarie Phelps, was also a member of that Lent Bumps crew, and went on to row in the Olympics, so I’m looking forward to seeing what we can achieve together this time.

You’ve had a successful career in finance since leaving St John’s, do you have any advice for current students or recent graduates looking to go into the finance sector?

Lots! Firstly, persevere. I wrote a hundred cover letters when I was applying. Research the roles you are interested in and be as specific as you can about how and why you are a good fit. Listen and learn at every stage of your career and find mentors, both formal and informal. One of the best pieces of advice I was given by a mentor was ‘If you get 80% of your decisions right as a fund manager, you are doing well.’

Claire Griffiths

If you could meet one famous Johnian (alive or dead), who would it be and why?

That’s a tough one: so many extraordinary people are Johnians. The society photographer Sir Cecil Beaton would probably be my choice because he took such exquisite photographs and was a leading figure in the arts throughout much of the twentieth century. He also knew everyone and would be amusing company, I imagine. He had a particular love for dance, which is one of my great interests, and created spectacular costumes and sets for several ballet companies.

You’ve been on the Johnian Society Committee for a couple of years now (and mostly amidst a pandemic) what has your experience been of it so far?

There’s a real can-do, collaborative spirit in the Committee – despite having to hold all the meetings on Zoom in the last two years. I’m enjoying being back in touch with Committee members I knew when I was in College and also making new friends. I must admit that I was looking forward to my first face-to-face meeting though!

I’m really proud that we have managed to make the most of the opportunities presented by the pandemic. For example, the virtual interviews attracted an audience who might not have been able to attend events in another format. One of my highlights was interviewing the actor Jonah Hauer-King, and we had some great questions from participants. Planning in-person events has required some judgment calls and many back-up plans but we’ve had a few successes – with a bit of lucky timing!

What do you hope to achieve as Chair of the Johnian Society?

The Johnian Society has flourished under my predecessor, Mark Wells, and the team he created, and it is a real joy and honour to take on this role. As Johnians, we all belong to a remarkable community, and the Johnian Society exists to help us stay in touch with each other and with the College.

Career development and the arts are areas where I can make a contribution and where I would like to expand our activities. I’ll also be listening attentively for ways in which the Johnian Society can continue to evolve, in order to remain as relevant and connected as possible to all Johnians.

If you’re interested in becoming a member of the Johnian Society Committee, please contact the Development Office, the staff of which can facilitate an introduction to the Chair, Claire Griffiths, and the Honorary Secretary, Zip Jilla.

Title image: LMBC 4th Ladies’ IV, Mays 1986. (Claire Griffiths – seated, left).
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