Strategy Director, spacehive.com
Part-time PhD student (University of Stirling)
What attracted you to your current career?
Originally I'd gone into the Civil Service on the Fast Stream. It seemed like an interesting scheme, with a range of jobs and options available to me. After 7 years in the Civil Service, even though I ended up doing a great job, working on strategy for the Social Justice Cabinet Committee, I was frustrated by the pace of progress and wanted to do something else entirely, where I could see the results. There was also an element of 'I think this is as good as it gets for me' - I couldn't see where else I'd go that would be as interesting as that. So when the downsizing exercises came round and they offered people money to leave, I jumped at the chance.
How did you get into your current job?
I actually found it on w4mp.org, the politics and think tanks job board. I 'interned' for nothing for a bit, and then took a contract at Spacehive as Strategy Director, and now work part time while I do my PhD in Surveillance and Identity at Stirling. My current contract is until the summer - time limited contracts are something new to me as well, having spent so much time in the public sector!
Describe what your current job involves:
It's a complete mishmash of things. It covers everything from digital strategy - where are we positioning ourselves online, how do we attract and retain people through the website - through to performance analysis and campaign management. In the last two weeks I've run a live campaign that was filmed for the BBC, started some deep analysis of our traffic and how it relates to revenue, and been working on long term strategy, with our developer, looking at how we can open up the platform through APIs so that other people can use our system.
Describe a typical working day:
It's a startup, there's no such thing. On the days I'm in the office, it's a any or all of - following leads to find new partners, handling technical enquiries, doing system and process design, helping to track down and replicate a bug, some financial analysis and forecasting, or writing a pitch for a big corporate partner. One of the benefits of working in a really small company is the range of things you end up doing, especially when it's a new company.
In what way did your time at Stirling shape your career to date?
My degree was in Business and Law, and I'm always surprised how often what I learned comes in useful, even now. Things have moved on though, so I often find myself double checking that the law still says what I think it says. Business strategy and management though, are still valid, all day, every day.
List three things that you love about your job:
The variety, the ability to see the changes and process you've designed or built actually working in practice, in real time, and lastly, the people that I meet - other entrepreneurs, community and residents groups through to bankers, journalists and Chief Executives.
List three things you dislike about your job:
The variety - sometimes something happens that completely blows your day out of the water. Websites - the web never quite works the way you expect it to! The constant need to always have an eye on the bottom line, when there are projects you'd like to do better.
What advice would you give to current students in terms of preparing for life after graduation?
Don't wait for someone else to do it or hire you. If you're coming to a small company interview, come bearing gifts - ideas and business leads or improvements that you could make. Or better yet, get out and do it for yourself.