Luke Thomas

Country of origin: United Kingdom

Technology Partner, Volutus Consulting LLP

I am a firm believer that with any university choice, you get an immediate sense when you visit about whether you think the place is the right fit for you. For me, I got that feeling straightaway when I first visited LUMS. I believed it was both progressive and progressing; staff and students were like-minded and ultimately I just knew it was somewhere I would fit. It is recognised around the world as being a first-rate institution, and from its’ strong research, to its dedicated Careers Team, it is not difficult to see why. Knowing there was the opportunity and support available to undertake a year’s industrial work experience during my degree greatly influenced my choice. I owe much of the skills I've gained and career path I’ve taken to LUMS.

The BSc Management and Information Technology (MIT) course is unique in a number of ways. It consists of combined majors across two very differing schools (LUMS and Computing), but has successfully blended both areas. The degree sits within a UK-wide body known as ‘The Tech Partnership’, which together with government and industry input is creating the skills for the digital economy. The Tech Partnership is partnered with over 1,000 employers who sponsor and tailor business technology degrees across the UK to make students, and therefore graduates, “industry ready”. Unlike many of the Tech Partnership business technology degrees, the MIT degree is delivered mainly by LUMS, rather than computing; this was the main factor for me when choosing both the MIT degree and LUMS. Useful modules I took included: Project Management, Negotiation, Decision & Support, Organisational Change, Marketing, Economics, Information Systems and IT Security & Risk. Whilst completing the degree was a great challenge, it was also enjoyable and rewarding to undertake a 15,000 word dissertation and to see the final product once written / complete!

University requires, in my opinion, a ‘work-hard play-hard’ approach. Learning is always an interesting experience, but it forms only part of the total university package. At Lancaster, we are privileged to operate under a collegiate system (similar to Oxbridge). This means that there are many more ways to be involved at the University. Each college has its own on-campus bar, sports teams and wider opportunities in which to to partake. I chose to be part of a range of student societies, covering a spectrum from Marketing to Hiking. My involvement with societies grew during my tenure at Lancaster; during my final year, I became an Executive member for three societies: Organisation, Work & Technology, MIT and Enactus, while also co-founding a football team in the LUSU league. I was also fortunate to be appointed as a paid Student Ambassador for LUMS, which meant representing the faculty at many events, running tour guides, leading presentations, visiting schools etc. That was a great way to earn money, boost my CV and build my personal brand within LUMS; it also enabled me to make a difference within LUMS to the lives of current and prospective students, which I found to be very rewarding! Finally, the social life at Lancaster generally is fantastic, from the annual Roses Tournament against our rivals, York University, to the SU nightclub available in the city centre on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The opportunities to unwind and enjoy yourself are endless. The city is a friendly place, and there are lots of local bars, pubs and eateries that offer regular student discounts to Lancaster students.

My placement role was 15 months spent working as a Carrier Technical Manager for BlackBerry. My manager and I were responsible for the technical relationship with all Vodafone carrier countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, ranging from the UK and Ireland to Ghana and Turkey. I was Technical Lead for several Vodafone carriers across the EMEA region, liaising between them and internal development teams to launch NPI projects, drive iterative, agile software releases and manage defects. My time at BlackBerry also saw me develop into a subject matter expert in tooling and technical process improvement for the team. The Placement has been completely worthwhile; all the skills I have gained are easily transferable to all walks of life, and particularly the requirements and expectations associated with my desired career path.

I would summarise my time at Lancaster in three words: unforgettable, invaluable and amazing. I had some ups and downs, but I am proud to be a graduate of Lancaster. The University and the city will remain lifelong second homes for me, and are places I have many fond memories of, with friends I have made for life. I believe wholeheartedly that the University has shaped me into the well-rounded individual I am today, and I cannot imagine having spent four years of my life in a better place. The support, guidance and learning undertaken during my time at Lancaster have opened my eyes to a world of endless opportunities, and have opened many doors as a result. For that, I am truly grateful to the staff who worked tirelessly each year to make it possible.

The Careers Team in LUMS are the only dedicated departmental service within the University. I took advantage of their offerings during my first and second years, which allowed me to gain important exposure to graduate employers in a variety of ways. These included mock assessment centres, practise interviews and general networking, to raise awareness of who I was as much as my knowledge of the organisations. The team within Careers work extremely hard to help you get the most out of your CV and make you aware of the abundance of events and opportunities available each week. I believe they were instrumental in helping me gain my Industrial Placement with BlackBerry. I had a one-to-one CV clinic with a staff member who helped coach me towards my personal brand and employability. Although the Careers team had no links to BlackBerry, and the placement was gained autonomously, I do not believe I would have secured it without their help and support along the way.

Since leaving LUMS, I spent 9 months working on the Technology Graduate Scheme at John Lewis Partnership in London. Sadly, I left the Partnership in May 2016, having being offered a contract working on the programme management team of a groundbreaking programme of work at SGN to migrate and transform their IT organisation / operation into Amazon Web Services Cloud. This has led to additional opportunities and together with other consultants, we have founded a startup called ‘Volutus’, whilst holding down professional day jobs. My focus in the latter half of 2017 has been on business development and building out the value proposition - the provision of technology advisory services to organisations looking to rationalise, modernise and futureproof their IT infrastructure utilising cloud-based services. Watch this space!