Tom left RHUL with a strong desire to pursue a career as a commercial pilot. This is something he had wanted to do for a long time, and had been a member of the University of London Air Squadron during his university studies. Unfortunately, an industry downturn precipitated by the terrorist attacks of 9/11 meant that airlines were laying people off and not hiring. Tom thus decided that he would like to explore the wine trade, having been enthused by the 'Historical Geography of Viticulture' course run by Tim Unwin. This led him to work for Majestic Wine as a trainee manager for two and a half years. This required a wide range of skills, for which a geography degree had equipped him. These ranged from analytical and presentation skills to being able to work in small teams, and of course a love of wine! Tom had some great experiences, made some good friends and travelled to Champagne on a couple of occasions.
What Tom says:
“I was still seeking opportunities to get my flying career off the ground (sorry unintentional pun) so I had been saving the not inconsiderable sum of money required to train as a pilot. In 2004 I left Majestic to enter full time flying training in Oxford. This comprised six months ground school followed by flying training in various aircraft types. I thoroughly enjoyed it (especially spending two months flying around Arizona) and finished the course in August 2005. I have recently begun my first job as a pilot, based in Aberdeen, flying for Loganair which holds the British Airways franchise for Scotland. I love the work, especially the variety of skills that are required on a modern flight deck - something again which I think a geography degree has prepared me well for, whether it be teamwork and communication or getting on with people away from home when you are living in each others’ pockets (ah fieldtrips!)”
“People have said to me 'Geography. That must be useful for being a pilot.' I always answer, 'Yes, but probably not in the way you think (i.e. can you show me where Bergen is on a map?). Few industries are as directly influenced by world events as air travel, and some understanding of geopolitics is a great asset. What it has given me is a wider sense of the world in which we live. Make sure to emphasise this benefit in any job applications.”
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"Few industries are as directly influenced by world events as air travel, and some understanding of geopolitics is a great asset."