Catherine Gallagher (Wi. 2004-06) is an award-winning entrepreneur. She runs her own yoga business, after studying Theology & Religious Studies and Law. Catherine fondly looks back at her time at school and how she wishes she'd been a little bit bolder whilst at the College.
When you were at Brighton College, what did you want to be when you ‘grew-up’?
I was at the College for Sixth Form, after moving up from a state grammar school in Plymouth, Devon. It was a big change for me entering the College! At that point, all I knew was that I loved Religious Studies, world religions and travelling so I think I wanted to be a something between an explorer, traveller, theologian, lawyer, or teacher.
Tell us about yourself now you've grown up.
I'd say I'm the same as I always was, just a lot more confident and bolder. My work has given me such freedom and opportunities, and my biggest wealth being self-employed is TIME. I have time to do the things I love like travel and surf. I'm a very keen surfer and outdoor enthusiast!
What about your life now would most surprise your Brighton College teachers?
Probably by how much I came out of my shell in becoming an award-winning entrepreneur and a global yoga teacher, rather than a hot-shot barrister...
What are your favourite memories of your time at school?
I'd have to say my time with my best friends Katy Mason (Wi. 2001-06) and Clare Slumbers (Wi. 2001-05) who are still my closest friends to this day. Memories on the Strasbourg road trip, singing in the chapel choir the beautiful Christmas music at the carol service, wonderful eccentric inspiring conversations with Anthony Seldon, the Romanian orphanage trip, the Greece classics trip, lunchtimes spent in the art studio - this was incredible for me - the equipment and resources compared to my school in Plymouth... the 18th birthday parties, games of pool in the sixth form centre. There's just so, so much!
What advice would you give to your school age self?
To stand up for myself more. I was certainly a little shy, meek, mild, and gentle at this point and I wish I had been a little bolder in my boundaries and speaking up for myself.
What do you do as a career?
I'd say I've combined all of those things above! By now at 34 years old I'm on my third career! After university gaining a First in Theology & Religious Studies and a scholarship through Law School I was called to the Bar of England and Wales aged 21. I worked for a charity in London and then took up another scholarship with Inner Temple, My Inn of Court to work abroad for NGOs in South East Asia and then Malawi. Following this I worked for Inner Temple as an events and marketing executive putting on events for Benchers, QCs, dignitaries and even HM Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip at the Temple Church. I transferred into the corporate world, putting on high end corporate entertainment events across London and Europe. It was at this point I found yoga... or yoga found me! Since November 2016 I've run my own yoga business which has turned into a combination of global retreats, an online digital studio and live taught yoga classes, plus business mentorship for spiritually focused entrepreneurs. It's been quite a windy and wonderful journey, but I must say I absolutely LOVE being my own boss.
What does your work involve?
My work involves teaching, mentoring and running world-class transformational events. I love it! No opportunity has landed with me, as an entrepreneur I've had to go out there and make the opportunities happen.
What are the most challenging parts of your job?
The most challenging part comes in holding space for people. Being a teacher of whatever capacity is tough physically and mentally. You give out a lot of energy and can be drained unless you have strong boundaries in place which I've had to learn over the years of running my own business. After retreat weeks I always schedule holidays for myself to recuperate after giving so much out to others. I prioritise rest to run my business well and I try to be in the radical act of living in my joy.
What are you most proud of?
I'm most proud of winning a Global Businesswomen Award for outstanding customer service. I've been in business a few years now so to have external validation and accreditation has helped to build my brand, reputation and gain trust among clients for empowering business mentorship and yoga retreat.
What are the three objects you would take with you to a desert island?
Can these be people? I feel like I only need 2! My partner and my single fin 9,1 longboard! Assuming there's good waves there ;)
How would you like to be remembered?
As someone who really went for it and built a life by their own design. A bold, empowered, SHE-E-O who's devoted in the service of other female spiritual entrepreneurs.