Careers in Business

Simon Holt, Regional Director for Retail, Leo Burnett (graduated 1983)

I live in Hong Kong and work for the advertising agency Leo Burnett. My job is creating and maximising communication campaigns in-store for my clients, or manipulating the shopper to buy more! 70% of buying decisions are actually made in-store – so increasingly clients are trying to drive shopper insight and communication programmes into the store. I use history every day – it still drives so many habits and behaviours – China's growth policies, Thai protectionism, Japanese social cohesiveness, the entrepreneurial spirit of Hong Kongers – all created in the past. If you understand it, you can build insights that inform your work and make it better.


Ben Goodwin, Analyst for Rio Tinto (graduated 2007)

My experiences with the History department and Lancaster University as a whole has hugely benefitted me in my work. The analytical skills that were drilled into me throughout my time there, especially in my final year with my special subject, are vital to my current role. I must thank Dr Ewan Johnson for this as without his help I would probably not have achieved the grade I was looking for. I am currently working in Singapore for the mining company Rio Tinto as an analyst of Heavy Mobile Equipment. A basic description is that I help mine sites purchase new equipment like the huge trucks you see. I worked in Shanghai prior to my move to Singapore and will in fact be moving back there with the car company Chrysler next month to take up a management position.

Sarah Tattersall, Customer Service Advisor, Bank of Scotland Corporate (graduated 2006)

Following my graduation from Lancaster, I began working in a customer service role at Bank of Scotland Corporate, and so far I have found that the skills I acquired whilst studying history at Lancaster have been invaluable to me. My job is largely operational and involves providing support to other areas of the bank in order to fulfil our customers' needs, and therefore many of the skills I developed at Lancaster, such as effective time management to meet deadlines, and analysing situations in order to solve problems, have come in very useful. Furthermore, the study of history has equipped me with many other skills which I employ regularly, but which can also be transferred to any work environment; for example, the ability to work both independently and as part of a team, and the ability to undertake effective discussion with others by making clear arguments.

Anthony McGee, Head of Network Planning, Gist (graduated 1997)

I now work for Gist, a leading supply chain company, working on behalf of Blue Chip clients such as Marks & Spencer, British Airways, Carlsberg and Waitrose. Gist is a part of the Linde Group, which specialises in gases and engineering with a €12bn turnover. I have worked for Gist since graduating, achieving success across several sectors, whilst developing my expertise in consultancy, project management, implementation and operations. In my role of Head of Network Planning I am responsible for the systemised planning of key accounts in Gist, where I develop best operating practice and cost-saving initiatives within a company spend on transport of £100m+, as well as winning new business. The variety offered by my History degree proved a strong foundation for an industry that demands a variety of skill sets, allowing my academic skill set to migrate to my professional life. In particular, seminars proved an opportunity to debate, through exploring opposing views to gaining consensus. This proved beneficial grounding for similar debates in the business arena, be they about how best to implement a new business win, or how to improve existing operational processes.

Pedro d’Avillez, Howe Robinson Shipbrokers (graduated 1995)

My memories of Lancaster are overwhelmingly positive, not just because of what I learned but also because of the friends I made, one of whom I married! After graduating from Lancaster I took an MPhil at Oxford in European History and Politics. I felt my time at Lancaster had prepared me very well for this and given me a very solid foundation on which to then specialise further. I graduated from Oxford in 1997 and found a job in the City with Howe Robinson Shipbrokers. I spent 3 years with them in London before transferring to Hong Kong in 2001 where I am still based, running our office in HK and working and travelling across all of Asia. By studying History I learnt how to learn, how to express my thoughts in a coherent and organised manner, how to listen to and understand the arguments and points of view of others. All of these are skills which I use every day in dealing with clients across a very wide spectrum of cultures and backgrounds. Of course, knowing a little of the history of the cultures I am dealing with helps me to understand them better and serves as a great ice-breaker when meeting or speaking for the first time.

Steve Kennell, Business Manager, Lloyds TSB (graduated 1986)

Since graduating, I have worked for what has now become the Lloyds Banking Group, mostly in roles dealing with the needs of commercial clients. I am also a long-standing District and County Councillor in Buckinghamshire, roles in which I try to help resolve issues impacting on residents of the area I represent, and in which I also participate in the policy-making and operational overview work of the councils. In both my working and community activities, I find that the analytical skills and, flowing from those, the questioning skills that I began to develop whilst at Lancaster have proved invaluable. Likewise, the ability to properly communicate, on paper and verbally, comes largely from my time studying at the university. I recall the History Department staff as being friendly, accessible and open to the views of students. It was a pleasure to be at the university; it was a lively place with plenty to do besides work, and in a beautiful setting. I still keep in touch with quite a few friends from my time at Lancaster.