Givaudan’s Guide to the Flavour and Fragrance Industry

Jonathan Fairclough, Exeter alumni, and current Head of Operations for Givaudan

Jonathan Fairclough is an Exeter alumni, and current Head of Operations for Givaudan Ashford UK. He talked to us about the fascinating world of flavour and fragrance careers. 

Hi I’m Jonathan, I work in the Fragrance and Flavour Industry which I joined right after graduating from Exeter in 1997, where I studied Chemical Engineering. Today I work for Givaudan as the Head of our site at Ashford, and lead the Operations team, producing Fragrances and Oral Care flavours that go into many of the products that we use at home each day.

We purchase thousands of raw materials from around the world, and use them to manufacture products that have been developed by our perfumers, ensuring that all quality standards are met, and that they are shipped to our customers to meet their requirements.

Tell us about Givaudan and the flavour and fragrance industry.

Although we all experience the results of the fragrance and flavour industry every day, it’s an industry that’s often overlooked. From your mint flavoured toothpaste to your lavender laundry soap, your chocolate flavoured protein drink or your strawberry gum… consumer products in cosmetics, beauty, food and beverages can be differentiated through the variety of their scents and tastes. Consumer product manufacturers don’t generally produce them in-house, but work with suppliers which are experts in the field of Fragrances and Flavours, and with 25% market share Givaudan is the global leader.

“This fascinating industry has existed for over centuries and uses synthetic as well as organic ingredients combined with bio-chemistry and neurosciences which are key for creations.”

This fascinating industry has existed for over centuries and uses synthetic as well as organic ingredients combined with bio-chemistry and neurosciences which are key for creations. In the recent years Givaudan has expanded our offerings adding active cosmetic ingredients to our portfolio as well as nutrition, health, and natural ingredients.

We’re also investing further into new technologies (for example, artificial intelligence) and adjacent industries to expand our portfolio.

You can find out more about our history here

https://www.givaudan.com/our-company/rich-heritage/timeline

https://www.givaudan.com/our-company/rich-heritage/odyssey-stories

What’s the process a company goes through with you if they want create a new flavour or perfume with you?

It would all start with a customer brief for a given product idea destined for a given market segment. Our sales professionals would collect the brief and build up the team to work on it. The team is composed of perfumers and evaluators (for fragrances and beauty), or flavourists and food technologists (for taste and wellbeing solutions) along with marketing professionals, lab application, regulatory, and pricing experts. Once our creations are ready we submit them to the customer and it can take sometimes up to two years to know if we’ve ‘won’ the project. Before we can launch the manufacturing process, there is a phase called ‘testing and sampling’ in collaboration with the customer. We own the formula, produce the material and deliver it to our clients.

“Once our creations are ready we submit them to the customer and it can take sometimes up to two years to know if we’ve ‘won’ the project.”

What kind of companies use Givaudan, can you name names?

Unfortunately we can’t name customers because it’s very confidential. But we can say that we co-create solutions with most global consumer product manufacturers in beauty, cosmetics, food and beverages.

How has your career evolved at Givaudan? 

I feel very privileged to have been able to grow my career within Givaudan, starting as a chemical engineer improving our processes to manufacture ingredients, moving into management and developing from the maintenance manager to Head of Engineering, broadening my skills into other areas of Operations and Supply Chain as the Planning manager and lead for Continuous Improvement, and now Head of the Site. Givaudan has enabled me to develop, grow, learn, be recognised and valued, while having a lot of fun along the way.

“Givaudan has enabled me to develop, grow, learn, be recognised and valued, while having a lot of fun along the way.”

What kinds of roles are there at your company? What kinds of students are you looking for?

We have two distinct divisions: Taste and Wellbeing, and Fragrances and Beauty. In each division, we recruit professionals with a background in chemistry, food technology, food sciences, but also professionals in sales and marketing, and sciences and research (R&D), Regulatory, Logistics and IT, Procurement, Finance, HR for the corporate functions.

Our Givaudan site in Ashford is a Fragrance and Beauty site, where we also have our Oral Care Global Business Centre. At our Ashford site we have our Science and Technology department, we usually take placement students for each of the S&T departments on a yearly basis. In the last year the student/graduate recruitments for our Ashford site have been:

  • Oral Care Consumer Marketing Insight Student
  • Oral Care Marketing Graduate
  • Sensory Science Student
  • Malodour Research Student
  • Neuroscience Research Student
  • Microbiology Student
  • Junior Laboratory Technician Student
  • Finance Intern

Our Milton Keynes site is our main UK site for Taste and Wellbeing. The main activities on our Milton Keynes site are product creation and application, customer care and sales. We have less student opportunities on our Milton Keynes site, we take two Food Technologist students each year that work in our application labs.

We hire interns and trainees all year round. The best is to go to our job portal https://jobs.givaudan.com/ create a profile and signing up for a job alert https://www.givaudan.com/file/207736/download that way you can get notified as soon as a matching opportunity comes up.

What would be your advice to students today?

Be curious, explore every opportunity until you find one that really excites you.

Introducing ‘Create Your Future’

Hannah, Year 2 Applied Psychology student, and SCP with the Create Your Future team

I’m Hannah and I’m a Second Year Applied Psychology student working part-time with the Create Your Future team.  

What is Create Your Future?

Create Your Future is a compulsory, full day programme for all First Year students and is unique to the University of Exeter. The programme appears on students’ timetables, and they are emailed about the event in advance. The aim of the day is to stimulate thought about what future career you might want to pursue, and the steps you need to take to help you achieve your goal. Students are expected to attend three live online workshops, and complete online activities independently. These are discipline-specific and tailored to the stage of career planning you are at. During the day, students reflect on their values, motivations, and goals, learn what employers are looking for and cover important topics such as commercial awareness. Additionally, students are introduced to the support available from the Career Zone. Upon completing the programme, students should have a clearer idea about how to achieve their career aims and where they can find support if needed.

“The aim of the day is to stimulate thought about what future career you might want to pursue, and the steps you need to take to help you achieve your goal.”

What is Create Your Future like?

As I am a Second Year student, I completed the Psychology Create Your Future day back in October 2020. I remember feeling apprehensive when I saw the event on my timetable as thinking about my future career, when I had only just started University, felt like a massive and unnecessary step. However, as explained by the Create Your Future team, this is to give us time to explore lots of career options, and develop the skills needed for those careers. Once I started the online activities, I was glad that this was the case. It became clear that I needed a lot more work experience! This is because I learnt that for every skill an employer looks for, you need to provide evidence for having that skill. By completing the online activities, I was able to see which skills I had not yet developed through work experience.

For me, the key underdeveloped skills were basic IT and customer service. Therefore, doing the online activities narrowed my focus as to what kinds of work experience I should look for. I used the Career Zone website to which we were signposted in workshop three, to explore current job vacancies within the University and in the Exeter community. Coincidentally, this led me to see and apply for the job vacancy of Programme Assistant within the Create Your Future team. In this role, I provide practical support for students taking the programme. Therefore, the Create Your Future day was really influential in kick-starting my career planning. The programme made me reflect on how I could become more employable and encouraged me to progress and find work experience.

“The programme made me reflect on how I could become more employable and encouraged me to progress and find work experience.”

Another aspect of the Create Your Future programme which I found useful was exploring the jobs that Exeter Alumni have progressed to and how they achieved those jobs. When I did this activity, I listened to a Psychology graduate in events management. She emphasised the value of getting involved in a University society to help organise activities. Her understanding was that experience of organising events, large or small, was highly sought after by recruiters. Listening to these recordings is really helpful, as you can use the personal experience of Exeter Alumni to discover more about a career and how to prepare for it.

Another beneficial feature of the programme is that the online activities require a large amount of reflection. For example, one of the activities is a values exercise. This pushes you to think about what kind of working life you want to lead. Is it important for you to have a good work-life balance? Is it important for you to be highly paid? Is it important for you to have big responsibilities? Thinking about these things will be useful once I graduate, because I will be able to ensure that I am applying for jobs suitable for my aspirations.

“Thinking about these things will be useful once I graduate, because I will be able to ensure that I am applying for jobs suitable for my aspirations.”

My advice

I believe Create Your Future it is one of those things where the more you put in, the more you get out. I encourage students to attend their session with an open mind, and work through the online activities at their own pace, without rushing. You might just learn something useful!

Careers support for Graduates

If you’re coming to the end of your time at Exeter (or you’ve already Graduated) there’s two really important things you need to know;

  • Firstly – all University of Exeter Graduates, from all courses and all campuses, can access careers support after Graduation for as long as they need it.
  • Secondly – we’re always available throughout each Vacation.
We’re here to support you for as long as you need, and we’re available all Vacation, and beyond.

Those are the headlines; let’s take an in-depth look at our support for Graduates and Alumni.

We know everyone’s different, but we also know that your careers-related questions and concerns are a lot more common that you might think. That’s why we’ve created Careers Forever a fantastic online resource specifically designed for Graduates that gives you instant access to the answers you need. If you want to, you can work your way through the whole programme, or dip into the sections that feel most relevant to you.

“We can help all University of Exeter Graduates, forever. And we’re here to help you throughout the Vacation, and beyond.”

As a Graduate you’ll also have access to Handshake (we’re saying goodbye to My Career Zone, our previous careers portal this summer!) so you can still find jobs and opportunities from all over the world, and network with top employers. You’ll also be able to book onto relevant careers events, fairs and sessions.

We’ve been operating pretty much entirely online since the pandemic started in March 2020, and over the last year we’ve further developed our virtual support. You can Live Chat with us through our website 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Email us or if you prefer to talk to someone, call us 01392 724493.

We understand that sometimes you might need extra support, that’s why we’ve got virtual appointments for everything from getting your CV together, to in-depth careers guidance, all of which operate throughout the Vacations.

So, to reiterate;

  • We can help all University of Exeter Graduates, forever.
  • We’re here to help you throughout the Vacation, and beyond.

Let us know how we can help.

My Placement with Helston Climate Action

Chloe with the leaflets she helped design for Helston Climate Action

MSc Sustainable Development student, Chloe Lawson, recently undertook a placement with Helston Climate Action Group as part of the optional Independent Work-Based Learning module on the MSc programme. 

“The module lead presented us with a number of potential projects to get involved with, and the one with Helston Climate Action stood out the most to me. This is for a number of reasons, mainly though because whilst I felt I had skills aligned with this project there was also the opportunity to get involved with things I had never done before, and that challenge particularly drew me to this placement. I also strongly believed in the project aims, and supported the cause of the organisation as a whole.

“My advice to anyone pursuing a placement is to utilise the existing teams that are there to help you! This includes tutors, module leads, the Career Zone and of course the Placements team.”

Throughout my placement I was involved with a variety of work, from researching barriers for people engaging with climate change, to designing and analysing surveys to understand how much locals knew about and engaged with climate change. As well as this I helped promote the project using a variety of platforms, and created blog posts about how to join the project. Additionally I helped design leaflets to advertise this project and then helped deliver these leaflets to locals across Helston (in line with COVID-19 guidelines). The pandemic significantly affected my placement. All our meetings took place online, we had to halt leafleting when a lockdown was announced and as we couldn’t talk to a lot of people in person there was a very low sign up rate to the project.

However, despite COVID-19 I had a very positive experience in undertaking a placement, and I am so glad I choose that module, so thank you for everyone who had that possible! I also managed to get another internship as a result of one of the team members on my placement sending me the role and then providing a glowing recommendation. So there are endless possibilities of what a placement could lead to – even during a pandemic!

“…there are endless possibilities of what a placement could lead to – even during a pandemic!”

My advice to anyone pursuing a placement is to utilise the existing teams that are there to help you! This includes tutors, module leads, the Career Zone and of course the Placements team. I wouldn’t have found my placement without them. However, I would also say never be afraid to get in touch with companies yourself, remember you are a valuable asset and companies also gain something by having you there.”

My Placement at Siemens Energy

Claire Humphries is currently on a Placement Year with Siemens Energy as a Sales and Marketing Intern, alongside her Geography and Business Management (Flexible Combined Honours) Degree. At Exeter, Humanities undergraduates can get work experience across a wide range of sectors as part of their degree on programmes such as ‘with Employment Experience’ or the ‘Humanities in the Workplace’ module. If you’re a Humanities student and want to find out more about work placements head to: https://humanities.exeter.ac.uk/careers/undergraduatestudents/

Claire Humphries is currently on a Placement Year with Siemens Energy as a Sales and Marketing Intern, alongside her Geography and Business Management (Flexible Combined Honours) Degree.

I chose to do a degree ‘with Employment Experience’ because I wanted to gain some real-life experience in the workplace to help me understand and get a feeling for what it’s like out in the world of business. I thought this experience would benefit me massively in helping understand what I’m interested and passionate about within a business setting going forward to help with my future career.

“I found placements by looking online, and the Career Zone also had placement adverts. The Career Zone have very useful documents to help with the process such as information on how to improve your CV and how to write a Cover Letter which I found really helpful.”

The search for placements is a tricky one and I would suggest starting sooner rather than later as lots of different companies have different closing dates and there is a lot of competition. It’s also really important to read the information about the placement properly and ensure you fill out everything required to better your chances of getting to the next stage. I found placements by looking online, and the Career Zone also had placement adverts. The Career Zone have very useful documents to help with the process such as information on how to improve your CV and how to write a Cover Letter which I found really helpful. With placement applications I found that practice helps, particularly with on-line tests, and I think it’s really important to remember that even if you get to an interview or assessment stage and don’t get beyond that, it is still a really good learning experience and you should not be disheartened as you will take that experience with you for other jobs that you apply for later on.

“I think it’s really important to remember that even if you get to an interview or assessment stage and don’t get beyond that, it is still a really good learning experience and you should not be disheartened as you will take that experience with you for other jobs that you apply for later on.”

My Placement year has been with Siemens Energy as a Sales and Marketing Intern. Despite my year being severely impacted by the Coronavirus I have gained good business experience, even if it was very different to what I was expecting when I first applied. I may not have experienced working in an office environment, but I have learnt a valuable skill in ‘working from home’ and being part of a ‘virtual office’.  My placement taught me the importance of networking within the workplace as well as the value of informal conversations and catch-ups which help maintain motivation and a healthy mindset. For me this took place in the form of weekly catch-ups with my fellow interns and also some informal team building sessions throughout the year. I also learnt a number of new business skills that I will take with me for my career including time management, project work, presentation skills and the use of different IT platforms.

“Choosing a placement as part of my degree was one of the best decisions I have taken… Having real job experience integral to my degree has helped me discover what I enjoy and also perhaps what I don’t enjoy so much in a work setting.”

Choosing a placement as part of my degree was one of the best decisions I have taken. It’s given me the opportunity to go through rigorous job application processes and it will allow me to use the work experience I have gained to help with future job applications once I graduate. Having real job experience integral to my degree has helped me discover what I enjoy and also perhaps what I don’t enjoy so much in a work setting, and this will help me tailor what modules I choose in my final year.

Alumni Profile – Matthew Grover, Interim Wheelchair Talent Pathway Manager, Lawn Tennis Association

Matthew Grover, Exeter Alumn, and current Interim Wheelchair Talent Pathway Manager, Lawn Tennis Association

Matthew Grover is Interim Wheelchair Talent Pathway Manager, Lawn Tennis Association (LTA). He Graduated from the University of Exeter, St Luke’s Campus, in MSc Sport and Health Sciences, 2017. Read about how he uses his experience to make difference, and where his ambitions will take him in the future.

What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?

Since leaving Exeter I have gone on to work at two organisations, Tennis Foundation and now, the LTA. Within the Tennis Foundation I was Disability Development Coordinator where I was responsible for the following:

  • Held to account for all general and specialist enquiries for inclusion and accessibility involving disabled people.
  • Trained LTA Services Team that increased confidence with disability enquiries, reducing personal engagement of ‘general’ enquiries by 57%.
  • Monitored and evaluated national participation metrics, producing integral reports outlining findings by increasing validity and reliability. Developed an effective monitoring plan for venues, resulting in discrepancies reducing by 44%.
  • Led on daily invoicing and monitoring of expenditure in line with budget expectations c. £451k.
  • Delivered stringent and bespoke disability workshops and events that educated venues on reasonable adjustments for disabled people to be included in sessions and developed opportunities.
  • Key stakeholder management with national and regional partners, such as: British Blind Sport and Enable Leisure and Culture that impacted in positive change of increased participation for disabled people.

Through my time at the Tennis Foundation, one of my biggest achievements was working within a team that collectively engaged over 12,600 people with a disability playing tennis at least once a month across wheelchair, visual impairment, learning disability, deaf or hard of hearing and mental health categories. As a result, the Open Court disability development programme is one of the largest disability specific development sport programmes in the UK.

“Through my time at the Tennis Foundation, one of my biggest achievements was working within a team that collectively engaged over 12,600 people with a disability playing tennis at least once a month across wheelchair, visual impairment, learning disability, deaf or hard of hearing and mental health categories.”

During my time at the Tennis Foundation and coming towards the end of my first year we were notified of a merge of activities between the Tennis Foundation and LTA to unify tennis, which ultimately resulted in my role being made redundant. At this time, I therefore had to go through the stage of reapplying for a position within a new team, new structure and a new organisation. I was unsure of my career path at this time as I lost a role I was passionate about given my personal and professional involvement in disability tennis. However, I looked ahead and saw the benefits that this will give for me to work in performance sport, as without understanding the landscape at grassroots; it is hard to transfer into elite through knowledge at every age and stage of the pathway. As a result, I was offered a role as LTA Support Assistant.

As part of this role, I succeeded in the following:

  • Held to account for co-ordination and customer support of all LTA Participation Directorate activities with aims of increasing fan engagement and opportunities to participate in tennis.
  • Management and co-ordination of LTA learning disability and visually impaired tennis festivals; working with colleagues, partners, clubs and charities with results displaying an 18% increase in participation.
  • Co-ordinate and operationalise the LTA Open Court disability tennis programme including; monitoring and evaluation, coach/venue workshops and providing legal advice that increases inclusion and accessibility for disabled people in tennis. Analysis has displayed a 16% increase in participation.
  • Experienced delivery of forums and workshops that drives opportunities and sharing ideas of best practice aligned to the LTA’s vision of Tennis Opened Up to increase engagement.

An exciting project I led on was an Inclusive Tennis Festival that was hosted at the world famous Queen’s Club, London. This festival created an environment to show that tennis can be played by anyone and break down barriers of tennis being seen as an ‘elitist sport’. Within this festival we had over 100 participants, a 44% increase from the previous year with participants from all disabilities of wheelchair, visual impairment, deaf, learning disabilities showing that tennis can be truly inclusive and diverse. Without this experience, I would not be in the role I am today as Wheelchair Pathway Manager. I have always worked in tennis and had the ambition of working in the elite level, so my current role within the LTA is perfect and an opportunity to progress my career where I would love to be a Performance Director.

“I have always worked in tennis and had the ambition of working in the elite level, so my current role within the LTA is perfect and an opportunity to progress my career where I would love to be a Performance Director.”

As part of my current role, I get to be heavily involved with players on the elite side of tennis, with responsibilities including the following:

  • Leading on delivery of Regional and National-Age Group programmes for high potential junior athletes.
  • Leading on annual (evidence-based) talent selection policies and processes for Regional and National-Age Group programmes.
  • Ensure new talent selection policies and processes comply with current and future classification eligibility requirements for Paralympic Games and Grand Slams.
  • Support the production and consistent implementation of a wheelchair player development curriculum.
  • Leading on evidence-based quarterly review of Talent Programme players’ progress against their Individual Development Plans (IDPs).
  • Collaborate and work in partnership with the LTA Participation Team, Sport England, UK Sport and BPA to lead the design and delivery of innovative talent attraction campaigns to attract juniors into tennis.

The attributes and responsibilities above really excite me to progress in my career to find our next Grand Slam and Paralympic champions.

Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?   

I chose this career as I have always been involved in sport from a very young age, especially tennis. Having that personal experience from watching tennis live at Wimbledon really gave me a buzz to continue in the sport that has given so much to me as a person. What I enjoy most about my work is no day is the same. Through my role I get to work across many departments which people do not realise. For example on the performance side, I work closely with strength and conditioning coaches to ensure players have an appropriate programme to compete at the highest level, physios to ensure athletes are always healthy and fit, and psychologists to help them in their right frame of mind to compete at the highest level. Other areas that I get to be involved with is finance from managing budgets, marketing with a focus around campaigns and major events in managing a players programme and competition schedule. Finally, one of the massive benefits of my role is I get to travel nationally and internationally. For example, I have been very fortunate to travel to Australia to support the players and team at the Australian Open and warm-up events prior to this.

“I work closely with strength and conditioning coaches to ensure players have an appropriate programme to compete at the highest level, physios to ensure athletes are always healthy and fit, and psychologists to help them in their right frame of mind to compete at the highest level.”

What did you enjoy most about your time at University, and what was the biggest highlight?

The thing I most enjoyed about the course was the opportunities to get involved in different projects with my friends. Also, the support I received during my time there from fellow students, PhD students, tutors and lecturers. All together opened up avenues for me to progress in my personal and professional development which resulted in me achieving my biggest highlight which was gaining my Masters Degree, with Merit.

What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?

In conjunction with my Masters studies, I was University Tennis Coordinator where I looked after the development and student programme for Exeter University Tennis Club. I would say the biggest skill I learned during this time was time management. Being able to manage work and study was critical in achieving my degree and positive improvements of the student programme where tennis participation increased by 5% over two years. Other skills I learned that were directly impacted by my studies where I have now transferred them into my current role are research methods through analysis of work, psychology – working closely with our sports psychologist and strength and conditioning to manage players’ programmes.

What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?

The biggest advice I would give is to get involved with as many things as possible from grassroots to professional sport. Doing this will expand your knowledge and stand you out from other candidates that may be applying for the same position.

“The biggest advice I would give is to get involved with as many things as possible from grassroots to professional sport. Doing this will expand your knowledge and stand you out from other candidates that may be applying for the same position.”

What are your plans for the future?

My plans are to now develop a comprehensive wheelchair pathway strategy for the next two Paralympic cycles of Paris 2024 and LA 2028. This is to ensure we are the leading nation in elite wheelchair tennis creating a pathway for champions, which makes Wheelchair Tennis relevant, accessible and welcoming to high potential athletes. Ultimately the end goal is to become a Performance Director at a leading NGB in the UK or globally.

A Different Path – Adam Jones, CTO and MD of Technology at Redington

Adam Jones is the CTO and MD of Technology at Redington

He talked to us about his career path, and the twists and turns that took him from A to Z.

Adam Jones, Exeter Alumn and CTO and MD of Technology at Redington

Picture this… The year is 1998, you walk into a Chinese takeaway and a gangly, long haired teenager is standing there ready to take your order. Ten years later that same teenager has graduated from Exeter and completed a postgraduate certificate in Landscape Archaeology.

Fast forward a further ten years and that teenager is now the MD of ADA, Redington’s software business and the Chief Technology Officer for Redington, a leading investment consultancy which advises on more than half a billion pounds worth of assets.

That teenager was me.

When Exeter asked me to write about my experiences at University, the path I have taken, and how Exeter was part of that journey I had to think pretty hard.  Like many other people (more perhaps than you would expect), the steps that long haired, gangly teenager took to become that Managing Director were not always in a straight line.

Throughout my time at Exeter I was working for EDF Energy. My role at that company varied a lot whilst I was there. It covered basic admin tasks, simple financial work and a some operations work. Above all though, the thing that I remember most was spending hours and hours putting little plastic electricity tokens into envelopes and posting them around the country.

“Look at your degree as a foundation, a way of putting together essential and fundamental skills that are going to serve you well throughout your working life.”

By the time I finished my degree, the role at EDF had become more focused on technology and I was running a small project to change some of the infrastructure that EDF used.  I realised that I really enjoyed the technology aspect of the job, and it was something I found really interesting.  The role required me to be able to think through and solve problems, problems that sometimes I didn’t actually understand in the first instance, but there was an intellectual aspect to the work that I wasn’t used to and it was something that really resonated with me.

I realised that I had to make a choice because I was working a full time job and also doing a part time Masters in Archaeology.  Part of me wanted to do a PhD in Archaeology and turn that into a career, but the other part of me wanted to explore this technology career and roll with it.  It’s worth noting that this wasn’t an easy decision to make and it took a lot of deliberation, largely because both of them felt like exciting and positive opportunities; something a lot of people will experience when they graduate, or at different points in their careers. As someone who had previously only focused on finding a job, good or bad it was quite a new experience for me.

“I assumed that hiring an Archaeology graduate into a technology role would be challenging for employers.  What I actually found was that most employers looked past the subject that I studied, and instead focused on the skills that I had gained within my degree.”

Ultimately, I decided to pursue technology and soon realised that working for an energy company wasn’t the best way of doing that. I applied to every technology company that I could find in the South West. I was in no way picky when applying for these jobs, as I assumed that hiring an Archaeology graduate into a technology role would be challenging for employers.  What I actually found was that most employers looked past the subject that I studied, and instead focused on the skills that I had gained within my degree. For example, my ability to research, my ability to communicate, my ability to work with data etc.  They also really valued my work experience. Having a number of years of work under my belt was a great enabler to securing my first post University role.

I landed at a company called FNZ who are based in Bristol. They build investment platforms which power the fund and equity trading, that banks insurance companies and wealth managers use.  I spent a couple of years at FNZ as a business analyst. The job role was to be an intermediary between the clients and the software development team. The main focus was to translate the requirements that the client has into documents that the software engineers could use to develop the platform.

The job of a business analyst is really interesting as it requires a lot of problem solving but it also requires you to understand different roles around you. For example, what does a client think about this particular piece of functionality? How can you articulate what the client needs to a software developer? How can you get a good enough understanding of the platform so that you aren’t creating unreasonable requests?

This mesh of understanding ultimately contributed to a broader and more reusable skill. Stakeholder management.  I started to learn about Stakeholder Management during my time at EDF but also during my time at University, where group work would often be needed and where the ability to influence others and the ability to work together on an outcome becomes important.

After FNZ I went to work for a management consultancy called Altus. At Altus I worked for around 30 different companies across a range of different engagements. All of them were focused in the financial services sector and indeed typically on investments, pensions or general insurance.  This again required my skills of stakeholder management but also increasingly required my ability to present information and interpret data to understand the “so what” that sat behind it.  The skills I’d learned at University became a key part of this role, and the other thing that I realised was that domain expertise is an incredible enabler for good work and indeed a requirement which shouldn’t be under estimated.

“This accumulation of expertise is something that people pick up throughout their career but equally people often underestimate how transferable this is.”

Knowing how a bank works from the inside, based on experience and based on different projects that you may have worked on allows you to carry out further work at different banks more effectively.  This accumulation of expertise is something that people pick up throughout their career but equally people often underestimate how transferable this is.  For example knowing how a big bank works puts you in pretty good stead to know how almost any large business operates, they all have the same challenges around technology, operations, client engagement and management.

After Altus, I joined Redington to take up my current role.  I have two main jobs. The first is to ensure that our core consultancy becomes increasingly digitised in how we run our business, and also how we deliver our services to clients.  The second is to develop our ADA business which sells our core technology platform to other financial services institutions.  On a day to day basis this sees me managing a team of more than 50 people across multiple countries.  We now currently have more than 60 companies using our ADA software and it models more than half a billion pounds worth of assets. In order to do this role I have to rely on a combination of things I’ve already mentioned. In part it requires the expertise I’ve gathered from working with financial services businesses and understanding their technology and the challenges the industry faces.  It also requires a range of softer skills such as stakeholder management, the ability to communicate, the ability to present, and to understand complex strategic initiatives.

So that summarises my job today and how the gangly, long haired teenager got there.  This only really leaves me to provide some advice for others as they look forward to their careers.

“One of the big things employers look for in graduates, is the fact that they can learn and that they can demonstrate the application of that learning and securing a really solid grade is it great way of making sure that happens.”

Degrees don’t define your destination

If nothing else, please let me be an example to you that your course does not define who you are and the career that you will embark on.  I am also a fine example to show you that once you have taken on a job, it doesn’t mean that you are in that mould or in that profession for life.  Instead look at your degree as a foundation, a way of putting together essential and fundamental skills that are going to serve you well throughout your working life.

There is more to University than studying

It’s easy to singularly focus on your studies but so much of the experience that I took from University came from other activities; be it playing in a rock band, travelling and seeing new sights with different people, joining societies and meeting with like-minded people in a way that you just can’t do outside of University, these things are not merely social, they all add to the skill sets that you have.

But the studying does matter

While there is more to life than studying, it’s certainly worth putting in the hours.  When I go for a job now does anyone care whether I got a first or a 2:1?  No, probably not. Was having a first useful when I went for that first technology job?  Almost certainly.  One of the big things employers look for in graduates, is the fact that they can learn and that they can demonstrate the application of that learning and securing a really solid grade is it great way of making sure that happens.

Connect with Adam on LinkedIn

Start your career with a Graduate Business Partnership

Julia, Exeter alumn, and current Senior Administrator for Student Startups

I’m Julia, and I graduated from the University of Exeter with BA French and Spanish in 2019. I recently completed a GBP Marketing and Communications role, promoting University business partnerships and research, and I have now progressed to a new role in the Student Startups team. 

I came across the Marketing and Communications Coordinator GBP vacancy in the Career Zone Job Bulletin, which I subscribed to in my final year, as I was keen to hear of upcoming job opportunities. The majority of roles advertised in the bulletin are entry-level roles which are a good fit for recent Graduates, which is very helpful.

I was interested in getting a job in marketing or content writing, as during my year abroad in Spain I kept a travel blog, which I’d really enjoyed writing and designing. While at University I had been social media and publicity officer for my acappella group, and once again I enjoyed the experience of creating engaging content and sharing positive stories of the groups’ achievements.

“The GBP was a 6-month duration, which I thought was a good amount of time to get a feel for whether marketing was right for me.”

The GBP role was in the Innovation, Impact and Business (IIB) department at the University, who oversee partnerships and research collaborations between academics and businesses. I was unsure if I would be considered given I was not a business student, however the responsibilities of the role seemed to be writing and communications-focussed which appealed to me. The GBP was a 6-month duration, which I thought was a good amount of time to get a feel for whether marketing was right for me.

The application and interview process was quite speedy, I filled in an application form outlining my skills, interests and experiences and was invited to interview the following week. My interview panel (and soon-to-be colleagues) were friendly and down-to-earth which helped me relax and things seemed to be go smoothly. I was delighted and relieved when I got the call to say I’d got the job!

“I was an awarded an ‘Above and Beyond Award’ for the marketing support I had delivered to the IIB department in these initial 6 months, which was a huge boost to my confidence.”

I started my role working in a team of three on several projects for the IIB department. These included writing case studies, creating several new microsites (within the University website), launching a new research blog, and working with the University design team to create flyers and banners for events. I was an awarded an ‘Above and Beyond Award’ for the marketing support I had delivered to the IIB department in these initial 6 months, which was a huge boost to my confidence.

When my contract was due to end, I was offered an extension of my role for a further year, but was moved from the Communications and Marketing team into the IIB department itself – no longer delivering projects from afar, but now doing marketing ‘in-house’ so to speak! This was a change as I switched teams, offices and line manager, but it allowed me to build on the comms experience I already had while seizing new opportunities. I wrote press releases about partner projects, delivered social media training to various teams in the department, and supported the Student Startups team with their social media and student communications. This new setup gave me the chance to work with many different teams within the department and meet lots of different colleagues. In some ways, this was made even easier during the pandemic where colleagues in different offices or campuses were just a Microsoft Teams call away! I was also granted various personal development opportunities and took courses on Adobe InDesign, Digital Marketing, and Web Analytics to learn more about different aspects of marketing.

“My (current) role involves managing the day-to-day running of the programmes, responding to student queries, event planning and overseeing comms and social media. I’m really grateful that my GBP role paved the way for this opportunity…”

I am now working as Senior Administrator for Student Startups, who deliver a series of programmes to students which allow them to develop entrepreneurial skills and launch their own enterprises. My role involves managing the day-to-day running of the programmes, responding to student queries, event planning and overseeing comms and social media. I’m really grateful that my GBP role paved the way for this opportunity as I was already helping this team one day a week with their comms during my GBP, which was a fantastic way to get to know the team and the work they do. Rather than just promoting the success stories and final outputs of their programmes, I will now be involved in facilitating every step of the support they deliver to students.

Although this role progression may seem a sidestep from the career I was pursuing in marketing, a large part of my role will still be focussed on delivering communications, e-newsletters and social media which I know I enjoy. I also get to develop new skills in general administration, project management and event planning, and it is this exposure to new experiences that I think is important at this stage in my career.

“I would encourage anyone considering applying to a GBP role to go for it – I think it’s a fantastic option for a Graduate taking their first step in their career. Whilst working as a GBP, I would recommend you look for new opportunities to develop where you can, as this has really opened new doors to me and allowed me to progress.”

Before my GBP, I hadn’t considered higher education as a sector I would like to work in long-term but now I definitely am. Not only is the University a friendly and supportive environment to work in, there is also a huge range of roles available and a variety of opportunities you can get involved in. I have also found promoting the University where I was previously a student a very rewarding experience.

I would encourage anyone considering applying to a GBP role to go for it – I think it’s a fantastic option for a Graduate taking their first step in their career. Whilst working as a GBP, I would recommend you look for new opportunities to develop where you can, as this has really opened new doors to me and allowed me to progress.

Find out more about our GBP roles and apply via Handshake

Get Ahead with Teach First

Maddy Graduated in 2020 from the University of Exeter in BA Theology and Religion. She’s currently on a placement with Teach First.

Maddy Graduated in 2020 from the University of Exeter in BA Theology and Religion. She’s currently on a placement with Teach First. 

I had been considering teaching prior to leaving school having first heard about Teach First when I was in Sixth Form. I was reminded about Teach First years later through a friend who had applied during her 2nd year. I thought it would be a good opportunity to get some graduate job interviews under my belt before 3rd year, so I applied in January 2019, and received my place in March 2019.

Teach First were supportive throughout my application process. The process was simple, and I heard back from Teach First within a fortnight of my application. The assessment centre, and general application process, gives applicants several opportunities to show their strengths. This meant for me, where I lacked in certain skills, I made up for in other aspects throughout the day.

“Tips for prospective applicants: show your ability to learn… reflect on challenges you have faced. Most of all, confidence is key, be assertive in stating your goals and achievements.”

Tips for prospective applicants: show your ability to learn. Teach First values a person’s reflection skills and ability to rebuild on experiences. You are encouraged to reflect on challenges you have faced, giving you an opportunity to show how you are able to solve problems and deal with difficult situations. Most of all, confidence is key, be assertive in stating your goals and achievements.

Unlike a PGCE qualification, I am in school from the very start which allows me to train on the job. Though the experience is intensive, you are able to learn quickly and develop faster than those on a university-based course. Simultaneously whilst you are in a school, you are completing a Post Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) part-time. The scheme can be challenging, but it provides trainees with a great opportunity to learn quickly.

Every day is different, despite being a cliché. A school environment, especially at a Teach First school is so vibrant. Being able to tackle challenges, both academically and pastorally everyday makes no school day the same as another.

“I felt I have been given an opportunity to develop in a supportive environment, encouraged to learn from mistakes, and grow from experience… I am becoming more confident every day and have developed brilliant working relationships with my colleagues.”

The Teach First Graduate scheme allows for continued professional development. Trainees attend the Summer Institute where they receive training for how to teach in some of Britain’s most deprived schools. We have continued CPD sessions throughout the year from placement schools and Teach First. I felt I have been given an opportunity to develop in a supportive environment, encouraged to learn from mistakes, and grow from experience. Personally, I am becoming more confident every day and have developed brilliant working relationships with my colleagues and have found my place in a new city.

I am in my first year of the scheme, ending in 2022. Afterwards, I am looking to focus my skills beyond teaching. I love the job, being part of those ‘light bulb moments’ is a special feeling. Teach First emphasises the importance of leadership and management skills in their trainees, and provide support for those who choose to leave teaching after they complete the programme. I have no secure plans yet for my career prospects after the 2-year programme – but I will use the wide-reaching Teach First network to support this transition.

“Teach First emphasises the importance of leadership and management skills in their trainees, and provide support for those who choose to leave teaching after they complete the programme.”

Live or Online learning has been challenging for many of society’s most vulnerable children. Seeing pupils on live lessons, being given that opportunity to interact with each other, though it’s behind a screen is a special thing to be a part of. All teachers strive to do the best by their pupils and it made me so happy to hear this very week that one of my live lessons on the Purpose of Suffering, was one of the best a pupil had had. She took the time to come and tell me that and have an interaction with me based of my lesson. That’s a special feeling, that even though the times we are teaching in are very challenging, teachers can still make an impact through their practice.

Applications for Teach First’s 2021 Training Programme close on Wednesday 7th April  Start your application today and receive 1-2-1 personalised support from the recruitment team.

If you have any questions get in touch with Catherine your dedicated Teach First recruiter at Exeter alternatively send her a message on LinkedIn.

Module Choice – Learning for Teaching

Hi, my name is Connor Thompson, and I am currently undertaking a PGCE at the University of Exeter. I completed my undergraduate degree at Exeter studying Exercise and Sports Science. 

Connor Thompson, current PGCE student at the University of Exeter

With teaching as a possible career choice, the “Learning for Teaching” module certainly stood out as a “must pick”. The “Learning for Teaching” module gave me the opportunity to observe and experience quality teaching in a local school of my choice. Alongside this, the learning for teaching module provided me with critical research practice and exposed educational theories that shape school policies, teaching practices and the curriculum today. This module gave me insight into the expectations of educational writing styles and this has helped me throughout my PGCE assignments. Picking this module supported my decision in choosing a Primary PGCE because it gave me the practice and experience I needed.

“Picking this module supported my decision in choosing a Primary PGCE because it gave me the practice and experience I needed.”

The “Learning for Teaching” module helped me to find out what I wanted in my teaching career. Before starting the module, I was convinced that I would be a Secondary school PE teacher with all my focus on that. However, deciding to gain some experience in a Primary school completely shifted my focus and truly broadened my perspective of what teaching and learning can be. My placement in a Primary school played a vital role in deciding how my future would look, and helped me in my decision to embark on a Primary PGCE.

“I built up the confidence to read to the class, I learnt how to manage low level disruptive behaviour and I developed a competent level of understanding around phonics.”

My “Learning for Teaching” placement, for me, was the most valuable part of the module. Although this may sound insignificant at first, having the opportunity to be an adult at the front of the class really opened my eyes to the role I could play in society and the local community. I built up the confidence to read to the class, I learnt how to manage low level disruptive behaviour and I developed a competent level of understanding around phonics. Most importantly, I experienced having a professional relationship with other members of staff and having a professional role within the classroom. In terms of subject knowledge, I was exposed to the National Curriculum and the fraction of it that was taught during my placement. This small exposure to the content, for me, was only an insight compared to the wealth of knowledge I am now gaining during my PGCE. However, this small exposure was eye-opening and one of the reasons why I chose to do a primary PGCE.

“The University lecturers on the “Learning for Teaching” module are overwhelmingly supportive and truly strive for you to be an amazing teacher one day.”

Within the module there were a range of topics covered including the Purpose of Education, Social Disadvantage, Dialogic Teaching, EAL, SEND, Assessment, Using Technology in the Classroom and Reflective Practice. I valued these modules because they exposed me to information about education that you never normally think about. However, the standout topic for me was English as an Additional Language. The EAL topic especially, has helped me during my placement in considering alternative ways to teach and develop my planning for an EAL pupil.

The University lecturers on the “Learning for Teaching” module are overwhelmingly supportive and truly strive for you to be an amazing teacher one day. Choosing to do a PGCE at the University of Exeter continued my professional and supportive relationship with the university staff, thus ensuring no student is isolated during the start of their teaching career.

“My career aspirations are to be a class teacher at first and then progress to be a co-ordinator of an academy trust or equivalent, then potentially one day to be a head-teacher.”

I am currently on my first placement completing a primary PGCE with mathematics at the University of Exeter. I am now teaching upper KS2 across the National Curriculum from Maths and English to Art and History plus many more subjects. I am currently planning, delivering, marking and reflecting on my practice every day and this is now a part of who I am. An additional part of the PGCE course is giving me the opportunity to complete two M-level assignments. This is currently helping me critically evaluate research literature and educational theories. The studies I have completed so far have influenced my pedagogical knowledge and the way I teach, specifically creatively.

My career aspirations are to be a class teacher at first and then progress to be a co-ordinator of an academy trust or equivalent, then potentially one day to be a head-teacher.

Find out more about the Learning for Teaching module https://socialsciences.exeter.ac.uk/education/study/teachingexperience/

For info and advice about all Online Module Selection options https://www.exeter.ac.uk/students/infopoints/yourinfopointservices/oms/