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Jonny Gray delivers keynote at Scholars’ Dinner

Jonny Gray delivers keynote at Scholars’ Dinner featured image

This February we welcomed Jonny Gray (LGS 1984) back to Loughborough Grammar School to deliver an inspirational and humorous keynote speech to our Year 11 – 13 Scholars at the annual Scholars’ Dinner!  

Scholars are recognised for their academic prowess and keenness to develop into lifelong learners. All scholars wear a Scholars’ tie and achieve notable success in sporting, musical, artistic and cultural arenas, both individually and in teams. Their achievements are facilitated by an extensive range of extra-curricular and extension activities, specialist coaching and expert guidance.  

Oscar in Year 11 did an excellent job compèring the evening. Passionate about history, politics and languages, Oscar hopes to study a combination of Latin, Spanish, English and then either History or Politics next year. Aside from academic subjects, Oscar plays piano and has recently started playing flute too. He also loves debating and public speaking. In terms of university, he aspires to go to Oxford, probably to do Law.  

Jonny had a long career as an investment banker holding senior roles at HSBC and UBS specialising in corporate finance and continues to work as a Consultant in this area. He was a boarder at LGS, representing the School in many sports especially rugby where he was a member of the 1st XV for two seasons. Unusually he also enjoyed taking riding lessons whilst at School. He was John Millward’s last Head Boy from 1983-1984 and studied A-Levels in History and Geography and Mathematics before winning an Open Scholarship in History to St Peter’s College, Oxford. 


Prior to attending Oxford, Jonny served overseas as an Officer in the Army on a special scheme for school leavers with a “year-off” before heading to university. He then decided against the regular army as a career and transferred his Commission to the TA serving as a lieutenant in a commando unit based in East London during his University and early career. 


After dinner, Jonny spoke with the boys and was impressed by their enthusiasm and eagerness to learn about a career in investment banking. Several boys showed Jonny their mock investment portfolios and asked his advice on the best trades!

Find out what Jonny’s top tips for the Scholars were: 


This is front and centre of scholarship. You must have a real passion for your subject, be excited by it, breathe it and have a strong desire to learn more. 

I sit on a company board with the Master of St John’s College, Cambridge. When I told her about tonight and asked her what she would stress for aspiring candidates for her college, this was it. Your university tutors want to have students with a shared love of their subject and enjoy teaching you. 


You will not ever get the variety of opportunities again that this School offers and, crucially, the time in which to participate in them. The School has some of the hardest working members of staff that you can meet, constantly putting on curricular and extra-curricular activities. It was like that when I was here and I’m sure it is like that today. 

I look back with fond memories of rugby tours, ski trips, history reading weeks, a visit to Downing Street after the 1983 election, debating society, field days…the list goes on. 

Now is your time to take every opportunity you can. 


Where things have changed from my day is that for the sort of careers you are likely to choose; medicine, investment banking, strategic consultancy, it is now a global “white collar” marketplace. You will be competing against candidates from right across the globe. 

However, you should have a quiet confidence in your schooling here. With your education, you are very well equipped to go head-to head with the best of the best globally. 

I spent 15 years hiring talent for global investment banks and this is precisely the rounded but demanding education we were looking for. 


This is one of the most valuable lessons that I took away from the School. You must develop a sense of humour and, most importantly, have the ability to laugh at yourself. I was lucky enough to have a large circle of friends here (a good number of whom I’m still in touch with) but we constantly ribbed each other (we still do), and no one was allowed to take themselves too seriously. 

As you will discover, the world is full of people with arrogance, who lack self-awareness and simply do not get self-deprecation and irony. With the greatest respect to the Headmaster, our American cousins, particularly in investment banking, are some of the worst offenders. You should leave here with a quiet confidence, a respect for others but with a well-rounded sense of humour. It will set you up for life. 


Finally, I cannot stress enough that you will never have a better environment in which to really enjoy yourself than here at Loughborough Grammar School. It is a great place to grow up in and, as you come through the School as you have, to grow into. The everyday stresses of careers, families, earning money, buying houses… that is all in the future. You will make enduring, in some cases lifelong friendships, as I have. I had a truly wonderful time here and am very grateful for it. Most importantly, I really enjoyed it. 

You need to enjoy the here and now. 

A big thank you to you, the scholars of Loughborough Grammar School, for having me tonight, and I want to wish each of you the best of luck for the future. 

Jonny Gray 

LGS 1977-1984