Place of work: Commutateur, Paris
Nick is owner of his own Paris based consultancy business, Commutateur, which offers a specialist communications consultancy service to Life Science companies.
Why did you choose to study at Royal Holloway?
I was considering four other universities, and chose Royal Holloway purely on the strength and quality of its academic programme in Biochemistry. After visiting the other universities I felt that Royal Holloway had a particular culture and a character to it. This had a strong inﬂuence in my decision to study at Royal Holloway, especially after looking round the Founder’s building.
Why did you choose the course you studied?
I chose Biochemistry because I had a particularly strong interest in Metabolic Biochemistry, Neurochemistry and Developmental Biochemistry. When I had my interview I met a number of key members in the department, and they were very open and forthcoming with me, which I liked.
What did you think of Royal Holloway as a university?
When I was a student here the campus was very small, nowhere near the size it is today. Everything was contained on the Founder’s site or in Kingswood, where I was in halls of residence. When I arrived there were around a thousand students – everybody knew each other.
What is the most important thing that Royal Holloway taught you?
The most important part for me was the academic discipline of Biochemistry which has helped me to bring a disciplined approach to problem solving and to retain the open mindedness and ﬂexibility necessary to solve problems in my career. Working in the medical area, it also helped me understand complex scientiﬁc issues and explain them in a simple and meaningful way to non-technical audiences.
Did you always know you wanted to set up your own business?
It took me a while to really realise what I wanted to do. When I arrived at University I knew I was interested in Life Sciences and Biochemistry, but apart from that I didn’t have a long-term career plan in place. If you had told me when I left Royal Holloway that I would be running my own business, I would never have believed it. I also have an ofﬁce at the College – another thing I would never have guessed when I graduated.
What has been your career path since graduating?
My ﬁrst job was as a medical sales representative and sales trainer for a pharmaceutical company. I then worked with various PR agencies within pharmaceutical healthcare. In 1997 I moved to France with a pharmaceutical company, Sanoﬁ, as it was called then, and for four years worked in global communications. Following this, I became responsible for international communications for Biogen, an American biotech company for four years. There was a company restructuring so I left and set up my own business in a specialist area of health care communications.