Tribute to Ruth Etchells from a former JCR President

Alumna Joëlle Warren reflects on her time as JCR President (1983-84) and pays tribute to the leadership of then Principal Ruth Etchells.

Joëlle on her graduation day in in 1984

Winning the election against RON was a less than exciting start, but it was the move to the coveted Presidential suite, being invited to all the College balls, joining numerous committees including the Bar Committee (at a time when my now husband, Andrew’s and my idea of a hot date was going down there for the cheapest drink, a pint of lime and soda at 10p) and having the privilege of saying grace at every formal dinner that were the highlights of my year! 

Ruth Etchells, who was Principal of St John’s College from 1978-1988

More seriously, it was a great honour to serve as JCR President at a time when the wonderful Ruth Etchells was Principal.  I watched how she ran meetings, how she negotiated, how she dealt with difficult issues… and difficult people.  I don’t think I realised it at the time, but it was at St John’s, under the generous and nurturing leadership of Ruth Etchells, that I had my first call to what has become my vocation, which is to be God’s person ministering in the world of business.  She was a role model as a woman leader, encouraging me to use my gifts, pushing me to take on new responsibilities, making sure I didn’t take my eye off the academic ball to get a decent degree but above all she showed what it is to be a servant leader, she focused primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which she belonged. I owe her and St John’s a huge debt of gratitude. 

Joëlle Warren MBE (Economics, 1981-84)

Today, Joëlle is Founding Partner and Executive Chair of Warren Partners, an executive search firm. Joelle was awarded an MBE in 2016 for services to business. She is also Vice-Lord Lieutenant for Cheshire and Non-Executive Director of Chester Race Company, and was Founding Chair of Cheshire Community Foundation.

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