Graduate profile
Economics Surrey graduate, Stewart Cooper

Stewart Cooper

"The best thing about the course was how relevant and applicable it was to real life scenarios and how the theory had an impact on current events."

Graduation year


What attracted you to choose the University of Surrey and to study your course here?

Surrey was the first university I visited when I started looking. Despite the day being a rather overwhelming experience as I got to grips with the prospect of moving away from home, I had a great gut feeling about Surrey. A modern campus university which wasn’t too big in comparison to others. 

Along with good sports facilities and easy access links to London, made it the ideal stepping stone to working life in the City. 

Looking at the course, what drew me to Surrey was actually the final year choices for modules; in comparison to other universities, I felt the array of options better suited my interests. Having done economics and maths at A-Level and seen the modules for first year, I believed they suited my skillset more where I could create a strong foundation on which I could build.

What is your strongest memory of your time at Surrey?

My strongest memory from Surrey has to be the connection I formed with two of my lecturers, Dr Eric Golson and Prof Joao Santos Silva. 

There was a period during my time at University which was difficult and the support I received from the University was immeasurable. Having the ability to knock on their door and talk about the course, have stimulating conversations and get some guidance is what really stands out. 

What were the best things about your course? 

The best thing about the course was how relevant and applicable it was to real life scenarios and how the theory had an impact on current events.

I enjoy the psychology behind how people make financial decisions and why they do so and having modules, such as behavioural economics, allowed me to study and understand that interest further. 

The course was also extremely open and had a wide array of choices of modules. At the time I had a particular interest in the US trade war and so, being able to cover this in my coursework, allowed me to tap into this and combine it with my interest in politics. 

What do you do now and what do you find most enjoyable about your work? Have there been any highlights?

Having completed my degree I now work in London as part of the investment management department at Arbuthnot Latham. 

The thing I enjoy most about my job is the relationship building with clients, seeing the end result and the impact your job can have on a client’s lifestyle can be extremely rewarding. 

Coming in at a close second is definitely the people I work with, having a great group of people who can challenge you but also enjoy your time with is rare, but I have definitely found that here. 

The highlight I think most about is the three exams I have passed and the recent qualifications [Investment Management Certificate and Investment Advice Diploma programmes] I have achieved which was supported by the bank. This has enhanced my technical ability but also given me more confidence. I also enjoy the company annual golf day. 

How did your time at Surrey help you choose what career to go into? 

The course reaffirmed my interest and passion for the financial world and, with the University being close to London, I managed to make frequent travels to the City to gain a feel and more exposure of what it might be like. This, combined with talking to the lecturers about their experience and receiving some counsel on how best to approach the daunting job market, made the process far more digestible.

What is your advice for students aspiring to work in your profession?

Trust the process. At the outset of your degree you have the whole journey ahead to which you have none of the answers. 

The industry is competitive and there will be several hurdles to overcome. For anyone this can be daunting and appear too much, but I would encourage everyone to break the journey into smaller chunks and focus on what is ahead of you. If you put all the energy into tackling what you can control, the rest which is out with your control will fall in to place and I speak from first-hand experience.

Finally, do you have any other comments you’d like to offer about your time at Surrey or life after university?

University represents just a fraction of your life, you get out what you put in. However, life isn’t just about the next exam or the next qualification and university gives you the platform to explore, try new thing and interact with people you wouldn’t normally. 

If I could leave a final comment for any prospective student, it would be to make sure you don’t leave university wishing you had given more to your personal experience. Don’t just follow the crowd, pursue your own path and find what is right for you, you will learn far more and be better equipped to succeed in whatever comes next.