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Holly Simpson

Studied: BSc Management with International Business

Graduated: 2008

Place of Work: Procter & Gamble

Position: Assistant Brand Manager

Why did you choose to study at Royal Holloway?

I was very keen to do a business focused degree that included an international element, and the combination of course options offered at RHUL complemented my interests, as well as the opportunities for studying abroad. I studied management with international business on campus in my first year, business at the University of Hong Kong in my second, before returning to RHUL for my final year. As many often reminisce, the Founder’s Building is stunning, and campus life was very friendly.

What were the most enjoyable parts of your Management degree?

I really enjoyed working with people from all over the world throughout my course. I had lots of opportunities to work in teams, as part of the course modules and outside of the classroom through participating in external business challenges. The communications course gave me greater confidence when presenting to an audience and really made me aware of how you represent yourself in the workplace – skills that I further developed throughout my degree and in my career to date. I particularly loved the Consumer Behaviour course, elements of which I use in my current position managing a consumer brand. The international business courses were taught through case studies and engagement with industry experts, which were stimulating and brought real-life theory into the classroom.

Looking back, what was your overall student experience like?

It’s easy to look back on your time as a student and forget those long hours spent writing essays, preparing for seminars and doing a dissertation, but my overall experience was great: there are so many opportunities to grasp hold of. In particular, studying in Hong Kong during my second year opened so many doors for me – it was the best year of my life! It really set me up for meeting challenges in the work place, as well as opening my eyes to the world of business in Asia. Studying abroad is a life changing opportunity and I would recommend it to anyone.

What skills did your degree teach you?

The ability to think around a problem and assess a case strategically has proven very important. Practical soft skills such as presenting, team building and leadership are all important skills that I developed whilst studying. The combination of commercial examples and management theory was well balanced, so I could apply a wealth of experiences and knowledge in the work place. In addition, I was a member of the Young Executives at the British Chamber of Commerce whilst studying in Hong Kong, thereby strengthening my business knowledge, enhancing my learning outsider of lectures, and giving me the opportunity to expand my network of contacts abroad.

What is your role at Procter and Gamble?

I am the Assistant Brand Manager for Aussie and Pantene. The role is commercially focused, but at the same time is developing my skills as a marketer. I have the best of both worlds: I manage a large media budget, am the gate keeper of my brand equity, approve associated media in addition to helping set the strategic and commercial vision for growing the brand alongside the rest of the team. I work with agencies, customers and consumers, giving me a 360 degree outlook on my business.

How have your studies helped you in your career?

I developed good commercial awareness through my studies, as well as firm grounding in the process, behaviours and strategies of business, all of which has served me well in my role, although Procter and Gamble recruit from a variety of degree backgrounds. The learning process hasn’t stopped either; I am lucky to receive regular training session in marketing, communications, commercial business and leadership, amongst others.

What motivates you to push yourself?

I love the feeling that I am leading my brand and making a real impact on the business results through my strategies and campaigns. I can be working on something months before it launches to the public, so when I finally see it in-store, online, outdoors or in print, it really gives me a sense of achievement.

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