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On February 28th February we caught up with our growing London network of Old Blues. Now into its third year, this event, held at Champagne Charlies, provided us with a great opportunity to share some of Blue Coat’s recent successes including our new Blue Coat For All project, Old Blues’ portrait gallery and the completion of our East Wing redevelopment project. During the event Old Blue and Engineer Ian Brown, from the Class of 1990, encouraged guests to consider  getting involved in Blue Coat School life. Ian, who is featured in our Old Blues’ portrait gallery, highlighted the many ways our alumni can support The Blue Coat and its students, from taking part in our expanding Careers Information Advice and Guidance programme to supporting the School financially.

We were delighted that Old Blues from the Class of 1957 through to the Class of 2015, were able to join us and members of the Development Team enjoyed hearing their tales of Blue Coat days gone by.

Here’s what some of guests have been up to since leaving Blue Coat…

Graham Lane, Class of 1996, Partner at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP

Graham studied Law at King’s College London and the University of Paris, and began work as a solicitor in the City of London specialising in restructuring and insolvency law.

He is a partner in the London office at the international law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher. He focuses on complex cross-border transactions, notably in France and in Eastern Europe.

In his spare time he participates in Ironman and other endurance triathlon events.


Kamal Bal, Class of 1997, Director of Global Digital Customer Experience at Avon
After leaving Blue Coat in 1997, I went to the University of Leeds to study Japanese and Management. I had 4 great years their (including one year as an exchange student in Kobe, Japan) before heading back to Japan for a year after graduating to work on the JET scheme.

Fortunately, before leaving, I had secured a job on the Accenture (previously known as Anderson Consulting) graduate scheme. I spent just under a decade at Accenture working at a variety of well-known UK companies such as Sainsbury’s, Marks and Spencer, and Best Buy.

I got married in 2008 and then took a leave of absence from Accenture to travel the world with my wife on what we jokingly called our extravagant honeymoon.

Upon my return I started working in the online/digital space which is an area I am passionate about. I then went to work for M&S permanently in their digital team for about 5 years across a variety of roles, before moving to Avon Cosmetics as the Global Director of Digital Customer Experience a few years ago.

Life now involves doing a job I enjoy, close to home, with a good work life balance. This means I also get to spend plenty of time with my young family (3 children who are 8, 5 and 3) as well as still regularly seeing and hanging out with a fairly large group of Blue Coat alumni from the Class of 1997 for which I feel incredibly lucky.


James Roberts QC, Class of 1988, Judge and Barrister at 1 King’s Bench Walk

I started at Blue Coat in 1981. I was a Lower Sixth prefect before being appointed Head of School in 1988.

In had a GAP year at the Toronto French School (following Neil Hesketh who was Head of School in the previous year). I went to Oriel College Oxford in 1989 – 1992 to read Law and then the Inns Of Court School of Law (Bar School) in 1992-1993.

I was awarded the Prince of Wales Scholarships and the Holker Scholarships from Gray’s Inn in 1992. I commenced pupillage at 1 Kings bench Walk Chambers in 1993 when I was called to the Bar. I have practiced in crime and in family law since pupillage gradually specialising in family and particularly financial issues relating to the breakdown of marriage or non-marital relationships.

Much of my work has international elements and I have represented a number of high net worth and “celebrity” clients. I have been ranked in band 1 of the professional directories for many years. I was appointed a Recorder in 2009 (crime and family) and I was made a QC on 11 March 2019. I have been on the Bar Council committees and I have been Treasurer of the Family Law Bar Association for the last 12 years.


Nigel Burton, Class of 1976, Non Executive Director at Digitalbox Group

I spent 7 years at the Blue Coat in the 1970s, with some great teachers who I remember to this day giving outstanding academic and practical support, with the electronics club run by John Barry-Peters providing the freedom to have fun outside the curriculum and learn skills which shaped my career.

After a BSc and PhD in Electrical Engineering at UCL, I worked in manufacturing, followed by 15 years as an investment banker and another 15 in various Board level roles as CFO, CEO or Chairman of 8 private and public companies. I’m currently Chairman or Non-Executive Director of 3 public companies and specialise in turning around failing businesses, which is tough but stimulating.

My advice to current Blue Coat students is to never stop learning and don’t be limited by your current horizons or capabilities – there will be so many exciting jobs and careers that you either don’t know about or which may not even exist today! I’m also constantly amazed by how often I encounter the same people in both personal life and business, in different industries and on different continents, always try to treat people well, you never know when you’ll meet them again. You only live once, make the most of it.


As our London network continues to expand we look forward to returning to the capital next year!

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