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Rowena James

Format AreaRowena JamesFuture Talent Manager, BSkyB

BA Human Resource Management, 2002

What made you choose Middlesex University?

I wanted a London-based university that specialised in teaching business skills. Middlesex's business school is excellent and was accessible with my UCAS points.

What attracted you to your course and made you apply?

I started doing business studies as I had spent a year in industry with Marks & Spencer so was interested in general business management. During my first year I particularly enjoyed the human resource modules so I swapped to a BA focussing solely on HR so I could specialise in this area.

It was such a practical course. Every bit of theory I learnt has had an application in my working life.

What aspects of your course did you enjoy most?

I loved the group work. We were a small group of 6 to 8 so got to know each other really well over years 2 and 3. Additionally the training modules on the theory of learning and how to structure a learning experience were great.

I also particularly loved one module where a group of us became consultants to a charity based in North London and had to advise on a number of issues. This was a really fantastic opportunity and I learnt a lot applying the theory of my course to a real-life situation.

Retrospectively, I really appreciated getting my CiPD qualifications whilst studying instead of having to do this whilst working – that was really brilliant.

What is your fondest memory of life at Middlesex?

The parties in the student union. I loved the student union!

What one piece of advice would you give to a prospective student interested in studying at Middlesex?

Really spend time learning about all the resources that are available to you. Get to know your lecturers, ask them about their areas of specialism and discuss the reading you are undertaking with them to help bring it to life.

How did your course and time at Middlesex help you to get where you are professionally today?

It was such a practical course so everything I learnt has had an application since then. Having access to real-life case studies helped me assimilate much quicker into teams which is really important when you are starting out. I was able to talk knowledgeably and provide valid input about method and application at leading companies.

What made you choose the industry you work in and what are its pros and cons?

I was working in Banking and moved into Media & Telecoms by chance. I got a temp job and then became permanent because I loved the industry.

One of the main pros is that it is a really fast-paced industry which places great emphasis on the communication of brand values so you have to have a good understanding of both brand and internal communications. This offers well-rounded opportunities for HR professionals.

The major con is that Media & Telecoms brands are very strong consumer brands and people often have a preconceived idea about the organisation that doesn't always match with the reality so you have to break these down.

How did you get your foot on the career ladder post university?

By temping and being curious about every job I did. I always made myself available and put my hand up for more tasks and responsibility. I purposefully didn't go for a graduate programme as I wanted to choose my own career path.

I think all jobs are half about aptitude and half about attitude.

What has been your defining career break or highlight to date?

Getting into Disney. I worked very hard to secure my place there as a Learning Development Administrator and got fast-tracked through the company. The education and range of skills I developed whilst I was at Middlesex meant I could apply theory to the work place and definitely played a role in my fast-tracking.

What does the future hold for you?

I'm shortly going to start my own consultancy. It's extremely exciting to be breaking out and starting my own business.

What are the top three career tips you would give to current students and recent graduates?

Be curious and put your hand up – no job is too big or too small when you are starting out.

Be interested in how industry works and how businesses run –their pricing models, marketing strategies, etc. It's important to really know your company regardless of what function you end up in.

Always ask for feedback and implement this. You are the only person that is going to make your career happen so go out their and make it happen.

What one piece of advice would you give to the 17/18 year old you?

Don't worry about past mistakes you have made, look to the future as this is what counts so put your heart and soul into it.

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