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Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School Horncastle

From Bus Driver to Board Member


As Vic Roberts (Alumna 1987) herself says, she likes to ‘shake things up’ and her career has been anything but predictable, from working as a London bus driver after university to being on the board of several not-for-profits and living on a barrier island off the coast of North Carolina. She has kindly taken time out from her charitable work to share her incredible journey.

Tell us about the early days of your career. How did you become a bus driver?

I left the Polytechnic of North London in 1991 with a European studies degree and with no idea of the direction I wanted to take, I took a job in London as a bus driver (the number 88) to make ends meet. The role came with social housing which was a bonus. Over the next few years I progressed to a trainee bus garage manager role and later became a bus mechanic. During this time, I completed a bachelor’s degree in transport economics, and worked as an artist in my spare time.

Since I like to shake things up, after working in transport for a few years I decided to work as a full-time artist for a short time and then went on to set up my own design agency which I ran for just over 10 years.

While running the design agency I graduated with a master’s degree in psychoanalysis. In 2008 I decided it was time to shake things up again, and after being approached by an American client with a job offer, I left the UK to work at a telecoms tech start-up firm based in Washington, DC. Since visas were hard to come by back then I established their offices in Toronto, Canada and commuted weekly to DC.

I worked as the VP of Business Development for two years, during which time I became increasingly involved in the non-profit sector in the area of arts and child welfare. I was on the board of a number of non-profits at the time. The executive director of one (a national US child welfare organisation headquartered in San Francisco) asked if I would help them since they were in danger of bankruptcy.

I left my telecoms tech job and moved back from Toronto to London and then to San Francisco. Within two years I had restructured the organisation, successfully increased the funding and grown the organisation to twice the size. I moved back to London and during that time I met my partner, now wife. We spend most of our time living on a small island off the coast of North Carolina, and a few months in our flat in London.

These days I am largely retired, so I devote my time to non-profits. I’m on the board of two at the moment: A Safe Place (supports sex trafficked individuals) and Move|NYC| (a New York dance education organisation that provides training free of charge to kids who otherwise could not afford it). I am also helping a commercial fisherwoman friend with some of her harvests for local chefs.

What is your fondest memory from your time at QEGS?

I really enjoyed 6th form and the friendships I made during this time. I still keep in regular contact with Claire Urry, Sarah Atherton (nee Gorman), Jody Richmond (nee Ward) and some of my other fellow students.

What subjects did you study at A-Level?

Maths, biology and physics I think, I truly can’t recall.

Who was the person who inspired you during your time at QEGS?

Mr Rowland. He was thin and tall and always wore his black gown. He was able to spot the spark and positive in everyone and wanted students to succeed. He lived next door to my parents, and it was lovely getting to know him as an adult over the years after I left school. It gave me time to thank him.

Mr Peacock helped me get into the Polytechnic of North London, by calling them. Unfortunately, I failed my A-levels because I was struggling with being gay, which really wasn’t very accepted then. Mr Peacock rang the admissions tutor to persuade them to accept me regardless of my results. I haven’t ever had the time to thank him but would like to.

What has been your biggest achievement?

I’m not sure I really appreciate the intention of this question. It is a thing, a feeling, a status, an accolade, a trophy…? Reaching for what that might be; I’d say my biggest achievement is that I have lived spontaneously and thoughtfully and have had great fun doing so. I’ve helped many people and organisations along the way and have lived in four countries doing so.

If it’s a thing; I am part of an exhibit in the London Transport Museum, which means I am old enough to be in a museum. I am part of a display on women in transport, called ‘Transporting Women’. I will be a in an upcoming documentary about the Scala Cinema where I worked in the 1980s. It closed in 1993 after showing A Clockwork Orange which was withdrawn from UK distribution by Kubrick. I’m on a giant mural in the East End of London, celebrating the diversity of the fabulous borough I’ve lived in for decades. I can chop an inordinate amount of vegetables in emergency kitchens, which I’ve now done twice for José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen (he’s currently in Ukraine) here in NC after devastating hurricanes.

What advice would you give to a current student at QEGS?

Don’t worry about not knowing what you want to do. Get a job, any job, figure it out as you go along and see where life takes you. Take every opportunity. Travel. Live. Don’t be afraid.