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Graduate profiles

Graduate profiles

Computer Science alumni have roles in world-leading organisations. Here we profile the success of a few of our recent graduates and discover how far a Computer Science degree from Royal Holloway has helped them go on to lead a successful career.

Name: Aswath Shakthi K P
Subject: MSc, Data Science and Analytics, 2020
Position: Data Scientist


Why did you choose to study at Royal Holloway?

The institution has a strong reputation for data science research and teaching, high-quality faculty and facilities, ample opportunities for hands-on experience, and a comprehensive curriculum compared to other top universities which offers data science courses. Additionally, its location near London was a factor in my decision to attend.

What did you enjoy most about your course?

The faculty for my course were incredibly supportive, guiding me through the practical application of the topics I studied. The coursework was designed to take students from a beginner to an expert level in the field. In addition to the curriculum, the faculty also shared their real-world experiences and the latest advancements in the field, providing valuable knowledge and insights.

Please tell us about your career journey since graduating and what you are doing now.

Due to the impact of COVID-19, the job market was challenging, but my well-prepared CV caught the attention of recruiters. The blend of coursework I studied provided me with a unique advantage after graduation. I took a job at an early-stage start-up, working as part of the founding team.

What advice would you give to students thinking about a career in your sector?

To prepare for a specific role, it is important to be specific about the role you want to enter. Focus on strengthening the skills required for the role. Make a list of these skills and learn and practice them one at a time. Apply these skills by starting with small projects and keep your Github profile updated. Once you have honed these skills, work on an end-to-end project, choosing any use case, to build a strong portfolio.

How has your time at university helped you in your career?

I wanted to learn and research more about Brain-Machine Interfaces and Machine Learning. I expected that this Master's program would provide me with exposure to Machine Learning algorithms and applications, with which I could develop and improve BMI systems in various ways. For example, I hoped to be able to analyze large amounts of neural data to better understand brain function, leading to the development of more sophisticated and effective BMIs. Additionally, I wanted to learn how to process neural signals in real-time and enable faster, more accurate control of external devices. Furthermore, I aimed to develop personalized BMIs that are optimized for individual users, resulting in better outcomes for patients. I got what I expected from the Data Science curriculum. The coursework helped me to apply these concepts not just in biomedical or healthcare, but in other sectors as well.

Name: Nana Ntim
Subject: BSc Computer Science, 2011
Place of work: JPMorgan Chase  
Position: Technical Lead

What first attracted you to Royal Holloway?

It all started with a recommendation by a friend. After some online research I discovered Royal Holloway's computer science department ranked within the top 10. I then paid a visit to the campus and was sold. The location is peaceful and green with beautiful architecture

How did you choose which degree course to apply for?

I had already made up my mind about computer science by Year 11. These were the times I had first discovered it and immediately became passionate.

Which parts of the course did you enjoy most?

All courses which contained some sort of project work because they made us understand practical applications of computer science. First year Robotics was the perfect start, taught by Dave Cohen. We also had a Games project using Microsoft XNA. In the final year, Fundamentals of Digital Music taught by Chris Watkins was amazing and allowed creative students to showcase their talents.

The module that defined my career path was Computational Finance taught by Yuri. This is the course that opened my eyes to the world of investment banking and trading. I began to make career decisions after this course! The wealth of knowledge I acquired here enabled me to breeze my interviews with Goldman Sachs and eventually Bank Of America. The final interview with the latter was a big success and they were impressed with my knowledge on trade algorithms, portfolio management and financial instruments like options, futures and other derivatives.

What was it like living off campus?

Living off campus in my first year the initial task of finding organising with strangers to rent a house was difficult but an experience worth it none the less. In my final year being the most important year I lived in Kingswood because i wanted more time to myself to study. Kingswood is still off the main site but it offered a campus like atmosphere.

What are your best memories of Royal Holloway?

Fresher week all three years. Participating in fashion shows. Fun at the SU. The fire alarms :) . Having breakfast in Kingswood, lunch in Founders and dinner at the hub.

Do you have any advice for a new student?

Have as much fun as possible but not at the expense of your degree! Anything below a 2.1 makes life as a job seeker very difficult. My contract was subject to a 2.1 and above. Some people I interned with failed to score 2.1 and their contract was immediately invalidated.

What has been your career path since graduating?

I started work the very day campus closed for the last time, a whole month before graduating.

In my current job, the design phase of any project excites me. I get to put my creativity to good use. The most satisfying thing I have  done recently was when I demoed the final product of an application I had been working on for months. The feedback was good and I was satisfied with my work. 

How has what you learned at Royal Holloway been useful in your career?

Royal Holloway taught me to be independent, with myself and my thoughts. I transitioned from needing assistance from a teacher/mentor to fully owning and developing on a piece of work.

My modules in computer science made me an attractive candidate, and it still does. Companies like Facebook have contacted me for opportunities and particularly stating the fact that a CompSci degree attracted them.

I plan on opening up a games business in the near future.

Name: Rebecca Merriman
Subject: BSc Computer Science (Information Security) 2018 and MSc Information Security, 2019
Place of work: BAE Systems Applied Intelligence
Position: Software Engineer

Why did you choose to study at Royal Holloway?

I chose to study at Royal Holloway due to the reputation of the Information Security Group. The BSc and MSc degrees are all certified by GCHQ and Royal Holloway has one of the most established Information Security Groups in the world. The department also has great links in industry. When visiting the university on the open day I could see myself there and knew then that Royal Holloway was the place I wanted to go to university.

What did you enjoy most about your course?

Both courses allow you to take diverse modules and projects. The lecturers were very knowledgeable and experienced in many different topics of computer science and information security and this helped me to gain knowledge and experience in a wide breadth of areas.

How did Royal Holloway help you to discover opportunities and prepare you for life after university / to find your purpose in life?

The diverse modules in both courses exposed me to many different areas of computer science and information security. The practical elements of the course helped reinforce knowledge learnt and mimic what the industry was like. For example, in my second year I had a Team Project where I learnt about using repositories, scrum, architectural models and developing code within a team which are all skills and tools that I now use in my day to day role as a software engineer.

Please tell us about your career journey since graduating and what you are doing now.

I graduated from Royal Holloway in 2018 with BSc Computer Science (Information Security) and then in 2019 with an MSc Information Security. I then joined BAE Systems Applied Intelligence as a Graduate Software Engineer. After I had been there for just over a year I rolled off the graduate program and became a full-time employee. During my time at BAE I have been working on high-profile and important projects as a front-end and back-end software engineer and tester (using multiple programming languages) using scrum/agile/SAFE agile and the languages.

What advice would you give to students thinking about a career in your sector?

Make the most of your time at university. The knowledge and experience of the lecturers and the things you learn throughout your course (both theory and practical components) will help set you up for your career. If you want an exciting and important job, software engineering is the right job for you. You will get to work on high-profile and heavily invested projects that will have a big impact on society now and in the future (e.g. NHS ventilators, unmanned aircrafts and drones and cyber products being used to protect children from abuse).

What is your greatest professional achievement to date?

My greatest achievement to date is graduating from Royal Holloway with BSc Computer Science (Information Security) and a MSc Information Security. All the hard work and dedication paid off.

Name: Hiten Rawal
Subject: BSc Computer Science, 2000
Place of work: Convertible Bond Technology
Position: Global Head

What first attracted you to Royal Holloway?

The Founder’s Building! But also the proximity to London, the calibre of the teachers within the Computer Science department and the general reputation of the university.

What did Royal Holloway teach you?

The programming courses were interesting as they quickly taught you a core skill in developing applications.

It was interesting that there was a computational finance course on offer - this is very rare within most Computer Science courses but is highly regarded by investment banks.

What’s happened in your career?

Shortly after Royal Holloway, I joined the graduate programme at an investment bank, completing an extremely practical and intensive training programme with other graduates including those in sales, trading and corporate finance.

I started out by specialising in developing trading and pricing/risk related software for the front-office. After about four years I moved to another bank to focus on a new project to build out algorithmic trading systems.

I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to move to New York through my current role. We are starting to build out the next generation of our global Convertible Bond sales, trading and strategy system.

Name: Louise Zenasni
Subject: Computer Science, 2008
Place of work: Morgan Stanley
Position: Vice President 


Why did you choose Royal Holloway for your degree?

I was a mature student and looking for a university with a renowned Computer Science department. A good environment to study was also very important to me. After searching for mature student opportunities, I found the Science Foundation Year course offered by Royal Holloway. It seemed to be very unique at the time and was a fantastic opportunity to enable mature students to study Science.  The beautiful campus and scenic surrounding areas for relaxation also attracted me to choosing Royal Holloway. After making my choice, I started the Science Foundation Year and successfully passed. I then began my studies in Computer Science at Royal Holloway, with all the skills I needed to begin my degree.

How did your time at Royal Holloway help your future career?

My time at Royal Holloway unquestionably prepared me for my future career. The modules taught were a good mixture of theoretical and practical, plus the topics were always up-to-date and challenging.  When I applied for a summer internship, I felt I had all the knowledge needed to secure a place in a very competitive market. I was able to program a real-life application on my own, directly using the skills I had learnt at university. This in turn impressed my employers, who offered me a place after graduation.

What do you do now and what advice would you give to anyone thinking about a career in your sector?

I have been working in the technology division of an investment bank since I graduated from Royal Holloway. I started off as a software developer, developing solutions for clients. I have now progressed to more of a project management role, overseeing technical projects and teams across multiple regions.

My advice to anyone thinking of a career in Computer Science is firstly to focus hard on your studies while at university. After all, you won’t get the time back again! Fully understand the subject material and dedicate the time after your lectures to research further. Computer Science is a difficult subject, and the more work you put in now, the more you will benefit in the long run.  Also, going the extra mile will give you an edge on the competition when applying for the top jobs in the market. Secondly, I highly recommend doing an internship or industrial placement. Many institutions offer industrial placements, along with shorter internships during the summer months. The experience you gain from these are invaluable and will help you immeasurably towards your third year project and ultimately your career.

Name: Andrew White
Subject: MSc Data Science & Analytics, 2016
Place of work: Starcount
Position: Data Scientist

Why did you choose to study at Royal Holloway?

The programme was open to applicants from a wide range of academic and professional backgrounds, and the university made an effort to help everyone get up to speed at the start of the course. The course supervisors were very accessible during the application process, which meant I was able to make an informed decision about going ahead with it, and I was confident that the course would be well structured and well taught. The syllabus seemed to be updated every year to adapt to new technological developments and feedback from students. I always got the impression that the staff at Royal Holloway genuinely cared about their students succeeding.

How did your time at Royal Holloway help your career?

I work as a Data Scientist at Starcount, a social & customer data analytics startup in London. I wouldn’t be able to do the job I’m doing now without my Masters from Royal Holloway. The talks from industry experts put our studies into a commercial context, and also offered useful tips for breaking into the industry.

What did you enjoy most about your course at Royal Holloway?

The amount of time lecturers were willing to spend giving detailed feedback on lectures and coursework assignments. Everyone was very accessible and they all wanted the students to do as well as possible. 

What advice would you give to anyone thinking about a career in your sector?

My advice would be to treat a Masters as a first step in the process - it’s a really challenging and wide-ranging field, so you will need to continue studying after you have graduated. It’s worth the effort, though, as it’s a booming industry with lots of interesting and rewarding roles.

What are your top tips for students aspiring to work in your industry?

Work on personal projects so you can showcase your skills to prospective employers. Good academic grades are important, but make sure you also have something else to bring to the table - communication skills, domain knowledge, commerciality. As a data scientist you won’t just be working with other data scientists - you’ll need to be able to work well alongside non-specialists, so it’s important to be able to communicate complex ideas clearly.

Name: David Hughes
Subject: BSc Computer Science, 2012
Place of work: Cancer Research UK
Position: Senior Web developer 

What does your job entail?

I am a web developer for Cancer Research UK and have worked on the Java behind some of the Race For Life projects and more recently have been asked to help out with front-end maintenance, assisting with tweaks for various subdomains owned by the charity. My job gives great job satisfaction as I feel like I am making a solid contribution to a good cause whilst at the same time learning a multitude of new things about various programming practices and technologies.

How has your Royal Holloway degree helped you progress your career?

My degree had me study a large variety of courses, including robotics, algorithm complexity, programming paradigms, machine learning and many more. Whilst I did not specialise too heavily in one particular area, I feel that this strengthened me as a software developer as I am now able to adapt to new challenges. Now that I think on it, we were told that we would learn how to learn and I am grateful that this is the approach that was taken, especially in a field as ever-changing as computer science.

What advice would you give to students?

If you're not sure of something that was covered in a lecture, make sure to ask. At Royal Holloway, you will be surrounded by people who are either experts in what they lecture or fellow students who you can study together with. The time you have at uni will fly by, so make sure that you learn things in a timely fashion. If you glance over some year one robotics, how are you going to implement the more advanced maze-solving algorithms in year two?

Name: David Overton
Subject: BSc Computer Science, 1992
Place of work: Microsoft
Position: Partner Account Manager

David is responsible for collaborating with a small number of software partners who build and deploy joint software using Microsoft technologies.

What first attracted you to Royal Holloway?

I was looking for a degree which gave me a good level of practical and theoretical teaching and Royal Holloway had the best degree in the country for what I wanted to do.

The course had tutors who were well-published and well-versed in up-and-coming technology. Royal Holloway taught Computer Science in a unique way that was aligned to how I wanted to learn.

What did Royal Holloway teach you?

Royal Holloway is a very international University  – you realise that the world is much bigger than you ever imagined.

Royal Holloway also gave me a huge breadth of knowledge, enabling me to work broadly in the IT industry, where I have to understand both the business impact and the technological impact of decisions.

What’s happened in your career?

I joined Microsoft in 2000 and my role was to engage with customers to explain how our products could help them in complex and often mission critical environments.

When I became Head of Technology for small business, I was responsible for pulling together different parts of Microsoft’s desktop and software products to give them a single view. My role is to help them work internally with Microsoft and customers so that we both win business.

One of the things I’ve really enjoyed is supporting the graduate recruitment process. Working and mentoring graduates to help them improve their decision making process and drive their career paths is really fulfilling.   

Name: Arshdeep Soni
Subject: BSc Computer Science, 2018
Place of work: Discovery Inc
Position: Software Engineer

Alumnus and Magician Arshdeep Soni has taken TikTok by storm. A member of London’s prestigious Magic Circle, he seemingly makes the impossible possible and boasts over 8 million followers on the platform.

Why did you choose to study Computer Science at Royal Holloway?

I was always obsessed with anything related to technology and kept myself up to date with anything new that would be released. Computer Science was another area where I knew could extend my knowledge of technology and its workings. Whilst choosing my University options I was recommended Royal Holloway by a friend who’d enrolled a year earlier and after visiting the Open Day, I knew I wanted to study here.

What did you enjoy most about your course?

I enjoyed the overall learning experience, and the vast variety of topic options we had within the course. The lecturers were also very comfortable and easy to work with when we had doubts about the content.

How did Royal Holloway help prepare you for life after university?

The skills I learnt throughout my time, at Royal Holloway both technical and non-technical allowed me to secure a placement year at Yell, who also offered me a full time job before I had even completed my degree. Since leaving university I continued working at Yell as a Web Software Engineer for a few years where I was able to expand my technical skills and knowledge even further. I recently changed jobs in April 2020 just as we neared the first lockdown and started working at Discovery. During my time at University, whilst also working at Yell, I continued to pursue magic and social media.

What do you enjoy most about your line of work?

Computer Science / Software Engineering, is all about problem solving and working through challenges which is something I’ve always been good it. It sometimes requires thinking outside of the box to solve certain problems and needs a level of creativity. Naturally, this course appealed to me the most and I guess that explains why I enjoy it so much. With the magic side of things, it’s very similar – magic is all about thinking outside the box to create the perfect trick or illusion. It’s very creative and I always found that both software engineering and magic pretty much go hand-in-hand as they have very similar aspects. 

When did your love for magic start?

I was shown a magic trick by a friend in a party in 2011, and was instantly mind-blown. It was one of those moments, where I couldn’t explain what I had just seen, and of course he wouldn’t tell me either, so decided I had to learn something for myself.
I learnt my first very basic trick the next day and immediately showed my parents, and the reaction I received was absolutely amazing. Just because of that experience I wanted to learn another, and just like that the journey started, learning one trick after the other, like a never ending chain.
I had built a catalogue of tricks and short while after it became a thing that I would carry a deck of cards with me everywhere I’d go. Shortly after, using the skills I learnt during university I created my very first website:
Overtime I perfected the art as much as possible and started performing a lot more as well. I started doing close-up shows for corporate and private events and built a network of clients. 

What do you think is the secret to your success on the TikTok platform?

Ever since I got into magic I really enjoyed learning the secrets behind the tricks and performing on a frequent basis. Social media was a way to reach a whole new audience by creating videos online and interacting with people. I started posting consistently on my social channels in around 2014 just before getting into University. I loved the process of planning a concept, filming the idea and getting into post production with the editing. I actually started uploading my videos first on Facebook and YouTube, as Instagram didn’t allow for videos at the time. Shortly after uploading my first couple videos on these platforms, I had one of them sky rocket after it had been shared by LadBible on Facebook. The video reached over 1 million videos in a matter of days and the response was incredible and after that I knew I wanted to continue this journey. I was able to focus even more on the social media side of things as soon as I had graduated as I had so much more free time. I started posting more consistently to Instagram mainly because of shorter form content and was also able to meet more alike people in my field and started collaborating with others. TikTok came out a short while after as Musically, which I joined and started uploading on pretty much immediately.
I started noticing success on here very early on as their user base was a lot smaller at the time. I kept posting here as I had a huge catalogue of content from other platforms. Within a year, I went from 0 to 7.5 Million followers and a few months later I’m now at 8 Million. The key to TikTok and other platforms is to create, entertaining and sharable, content and also constant collaboration with others, this is what makes the algorithm work in your favour. Consistency and sticking to a posting schedule is vital to survive on any platform.

What is your greatest professional achievement to date?

My greatest personal achievement to date would definitely be being featured by TikTok on large scale Billboards in London’s most iconic locations, Piccadilly Circus, IMAX Waterloo, Shepherds Bush Westfield, High Street Kensington, Canary Wharf and a few more. They ran a campaign in early September called “It Starts on TikTok” and chose 5 creators to be part of this campaign, it went live at the end of the month and was promoted pretty heavily on all their social accounts. Other than this it’s definitely being able to work and collaborate with some of the world's top leading brands such as Burger King, Papa Johns, Juice Burst Mini Cheddars, Fashion Nova and many more in such a short amount of time.

What advice would you give to students thinking about a career in your industry? (Computer Science, magic or both!)

For anyone looking to start a career, business in any field go with what you are passionate about, it’ll open a lot more doors down the line as you actually enjoy what you do. I’d definitely say, don’t give up so early on, it can be tricky at first to build a foundation in anything, but it’s not impossible and sometimes easier than you actually think.

Arshdeep web.jpg

Alumnus and Magician Arshdeep Soni

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