"...the University of Surrey was very much about the students and what they could do for the students rather than what the students could do for the university. So I really liked that kind of culture."
Why Surrey and your course?
I chose the University because I was looking for a campus university and when I looked round campus universities I found that the University of Surrey was very much about the students and what they could do for the students rather than what the students could do for the university. I really liked that kind of culture.
In terms of why I chose English literature at Surrey, it was because the course was quite modern, so there was a real contemporary vibe which I felt would give me transferable skills for the future. I learned a lot on the professional training year which I actually ended up doing at the University in international recruitment. I originally thought I wanted a career which involved travel but my placement helped me refine my thinking around my career plan and prompted me to move towards a career in the finance industry.
For me there are so many to choose from, but I think (this is going to sound really cheesy) the friends I made, they are still my best friends today. It was like we even went on a journey together, we got stuck into the same thing things during our time at Surrey, including all of us going off on a placement year and then coming back to our final year and doing the last year together. And since then, it’s just been a fantastic 10 years of friendship. We all had highs and lows at that time, and that’s my strongest memory.
Best thing about your course?
The professional placement year, because it is part of the course and structured that way: you have done your two years, you go off for your placement year and it is easy for final year students to come back after their year. It just was really supported, e.g. with accommodation, and made it really easy, so that was a particular highlight.
"I really liked the modules as there were so many elements in there, psychology elements, contemporary culture, politics, social aspects so it had that breadth of diversity and real contemporary feel."
Specifically for English Literature, I really liked the modules as there were so many elements in there, psychology elements, contemporary culture, politics, social aspects so it had that breadth of diversity and real contemporary feel.
What do you do now and what’s most enjoyable about your job?
I work in insurance, I am Head of Insurer Markets for a broker. I lead a team which is responsible for B2B relationships, we work with a lot of different insurers, so it is lots of commercial negotiation, commercial strategic plans, pitches and tenders.
How did your course help you in your role?
"My course helped with the ability to create an argument, to influence, to present, highlight things to senior stakeholders, communicate, how to organise, how to lead a lot of different people. I do think the course helped me with that, the transferable skills, it’s your classic corporate world of work and I do think my course helped me with all of that."
What is your advice to students who want to work in your profession?
I would say if I am hiring or if other people are hiring in the insurance sector, they are looking for a certain character and attitude, the rest we can teach. We are looking for people who are savvy, people who can communicate, switched on, have a good work ethic, creative, people who have a bit of get up and go, driven. It's about demonstrating you have got those core, more personal, soft skills and we teach the technical.
So that would be my advice, really focus on where your strengths are in those soft skills areas and then push that in interviews, the rest will follow.