Making a tangible contribution to a more progressive society

Catherine Lewis La Torre (BSc Social Policy & Administration 1984) is Chief Executive Officer of British Business Investments. An Annual Fund donor for six years, she has given at a leadership level since 2014 and is a member of the Shaw Circle within the 1895 Society.

Catherine 1

How has LSE helped to shape you in your life and career?
Studying at LSE nurtured my innate curiosity and tendency to question things. More importantly it instilled in me the discipline of combining proper analysis with creative thought to search for better solutions. Seeing change as an opportunity to improve outcomes and be embraced as a force for good has undoubtedly enriched my life and my career. This has provided me with the impetus to seek out opportunities to start or build businesses and has helped me enjoy the experience of living and working in several European countries.

What are your fondest memories of LSE?
My fondest memories revolve around the people I formed friendships with. My first year was particularly important in this regard as the room I shared with two other students in Passfield Hall quickly became a de facto common room where lively debate took place, often late into the night. In addition to raising pressing concerns, such as which of the pubs in the vicinity of our Hall of Residence had the least watered-down beer, we also covered a broad range of what we then perceived to be the most significant social and economic issues facing our society. The opportunity to discuss such matters with bright minds from many different backgrounds and of very different political persuasions taught me that good ideas can come from anywhere, and that enduring friendships can be forged between people with radically different views.

What motivated your initial support of the Annual Fund – and what drives you to continue doing so at a leadership level?
As a graduate in Social Policy, I am keen to find ways in which I may contribute to a more progressive society. The objectives of the LSE Annual Fund are therefore fully aligned with my own. I also believe that, as a woman, participation at a leadership level is an important statement and I would hope that my philanthropic engagement serves as an example to other successful women. The amount I have given to the Annual Fund has varied over the years reflecting my own financial circumstances and philanthropic priorities. My intention is to continue giving in a way that is meaningful for as long as possible. Hopefully this will help the next generation of alumni to follow in my footsteps.

What impact do you feel your giving has on the life of the School?
I direct my gift to Student Support, which helps in the provision of scholarships through the New Futures Fund and bursaries for talented students from many different walks of life. I passionately believe that education should be a basic right for everyone on the planet and that higher education should be accessible to all excellent minds, irrespective of one’s ability to pay for it. By contributing in this way, I can support gifted individuals who might otherwise not have had the opportunity to study at LSE.

Would you encourage others to support the School at leadership level?
I am sure that many alumni have had their careers enhanced by association with one of the world’s leading places of learning and educational research. Contributing in this way is an opportunity to acknowledge this benefit and provides a tangible way to give back. Supporting the current cohort of students, as well as the valuable work being carried out by LSE’s faculty, has a lasting impact and helps create a virtuous circle – the beneficiaries of today’s support could well become the leadership level alumni of the future.