What made you choose to attend Leeds Trinity University?
I had offers from Ripon York St John and Chester College, which was closer to home, but I was determined to go to Leeds – it was a great place I thought when I visited it. I was also keen on the fact that Leeds Trinity (TASC as it was then known) did an academic course linked to vocational study, which made a lot of sense in terms of getting a paid job at the end of things.
Sadly, by the time I applied, there were no spaces left on the Public Media course, which I really wanted to do, so I happily deferred for 12 months until the following September in 1988. My ambition back then was to be a Journalist, an ambition that I achieved – working in local newspapers for 12 years initially in Cheshire and then the West Country.
What are your best memories from your time here?My first year in halls of residence were great fun and a good way to transition from living at home with Mum and Dad and I also benefitted from the different approach to learning from my sixth form at school. I even managed to star in the production of Grease in the lead role of Danny Zuko, despite my limited singing and dancing abilities!
The second and final years were much harder but ultimately rewarding as I really pushed myself and managed a 2:1 in my degree studies from a Russell Group university – something I am still very proud of achieving today.
How do you feel your time at Leeds Trinity has supported you in your career and life more generally?Going away to study made me stand on my own two feet and I also made a lot of good friends – some of which I am still in touch with today thanks to social media.
I would highly recommend Leeds Trinity for those who seek a challenge and want to progress in life. My history degree fitted well with my chosen career in newspaper journalism and the Public Media training also gave me a head start on others. I did have to go back into education to complete a professional postgraduate diploma at Preston Poly at my own expense, in order to land my first job as a newspaper reporter. But my time at Leeds Trinity certainly pointed me in the right direction.
Where did you do your professional work placement? How did you benefit?I did two newspaper work experience placements and one in television – they helped to decide my future career direction for me. I worked as a trainee reporter at the Bolton Evening News and the Wirral Globe newspapers and quickly realised this was right up my street.
My time as a researcher on daytime television at the BBC in Manchester was fascinating but it simply confirmed I wanted to be a journalist and make some headlines.
It was a great opportunity and back then quite pioneering stuff – now I think everyone does this but Leeds Trinity seemed to be leading the way back then.
What three words would you use to describe Leeds Trinity?Happy, stretching and supportive.
What is your current role and what did you do after graduating?Group Communications Manager (Internal Communications) for Imperial Tobacco Group PLC.
After graduation, I went to work for an engineering company back home where I created a database of their current and past contracts from scratch – saving up to go to Preston to undertake my NCTJ course to work in newspapers.
Before I finished my course I landed a role as a trainee reporter on the Northwich Chronicle in Cheshire; I moved on from there to the Chester News Service as an agency court and sports reporter for a number of media outlets. I then moved to the local evening paper the Chester Evening Leader as a senior reporter covering magistrates and crown court before moving to Bath as a district reporter for the Bristol Evening Post.
When the Bath office shut I moved into their Bristol head office as a general reporter and ended up as assistant news editor on the region's largest local daily newspaper. I crossed over to 'the other side' in 2005 and worked in PR first for Bristol University, then Brunel's ss Great Britain, Avon & Somerset police, the Environment Agency, a local NHS trust and now Imperial Tobacco. I thoroughly enjoyed local newspapers and was keen to stay but my circumstances changed after I got married and my daughter was born so working long hours – evenings, weekends and bank holidays – gradually lost its appeal!
PR has a lot less of the cut and thrust of being a journalist but many of the skills are transferrable and I've had plenty of highlights, including lots of media exposure to keep me busy. I think my time as PR and Marketing Manager at the ss Great Britain, Isambard Kingdom Brunel's restored historic ship in Bristol docks, was the most fun.
Can you give a brief summary of your current role and how it came about?I joined Imperial in 2009 as a Corporate Communications Specialist, which meant doing everything, and I carved out a niche for myself doing internal communications and digital media. I took ownership of the intranet and worked on the company websites and social media plus the employee magazine and other electronic channels as well as some trade press engagement.
I was promoted to Group Communications Manager after two years and since then I have become even more focused on our internal communications agenda – I even became editor of the employee magazine this year, an editor at last!
What advice would you give current students/recent graduates embarking on a similar career path?Try everything at least once and endeavour to take yourself out of your comfort zone so you can stretch yourself.