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Kate in Paris! An inspiring Modern Languages Assembly

Published on 01/11/23

To celebrate European Day of Languages, Mme Parente invited a former student, Kate McMullen to return and share her experiences of how French helped her in shaping her career beyond school.

Kate is an alumna of Perse School for Girls, she grew up in Cambridge. Graduated from Oxford with a First in History, she became Creative Director in Shanghai and Paris for an advertising company, before turning full-time to film-making. She is an award-winner (Young Director Award 2022, New York Film Festival 2021) for short films such as Little Berlin, Welcome to Malta, Comme Les Roses, Nail House to name a few. Visit her website:

Students and staff were spellbound by her engaging talk, sharing how by an extraordinary turn of events, having the ability to communicate in French enabled her to get into the world of advertising in Paris through an internship which then led to a promotion. This then led to work in Shanghai as well as South Africa. Sharing emojis and short video clips, she detailed her career and opened all our minds. Her key message for a future career path was to not expect a straight line but rather embrace the squiggle. There was certainly no straight, conventional line for her. Her career developed in many different, extraordinary ways and from happy circumstances to having a broad skill set, including flexibility, adaptability and creativity, she was able to succeed.

Kate shared a memory from learning French with Mme Parente who said to the class: “Les filles! Il faut pratiquer, pratiquer, pratiquer. Parler, parler, parler!” This stood Kate in good stead for developing her language skills and was a clear message to students across Years 7 to 13 - the daily drilling of revising vocabulary, reciting verb conjugations and sentence building does indeed pay off and has a far-reaching purpose beyond school and exams. Kate also made a very close connection with the culinary aspects of France as well and gave a big plug for French cheese!

We thank Kate McMullen for taking the time from her international, busy schedule to return to Stephen Perse and inspire our students to enjoy their academic studies and take the initiative in finding opportunities in life!