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Take a look at what our alumni have achieved

Take a look at what our alumni have achieved

Our alumni have been successful at continuing their learning and making it the focus of their careers.

Psychology alumni career paths range from journalism and academia to active practice in business. And if you're a second-year student, make sure you read about our micro-placement opportunities to boost your career prospects.

Name: Joanna Swiatek
Subject: BSc Psychology
Graduated: 2010
Place of work: ETS plc
Position: Business Psychologist

ETS plc offers HR consultancy from business psychologists and helps some of the world’s leading companies design and implement employee surveys.

Joanna has worked at ETS since the end of her Masters, following a one-month temporary contract.

What first attracted you to Royal Holloway?

I chose Psychology because I was always interested in understanding human behaviour and people’s motives for doing things. The Psychology course received really high scores in research, teaching and student satisfaction.

The lecturers seemed extremely passionate about sharing their knowledge and experience in managing people’s behaviour at work. The College was everything I was looking for.

What did Royal Holloway teach you?

I had a chance to meet students from all over the world. Such a diverse social and academic environment taught me a lot about other cultures and increased my appreciation of the unique value they can contribute.

My final year project taught me how to effectively manage group work, be a good team player and be able to work on my own. I also developed organisational and time management skills by working part-time during my full-time degree.

What’s happened in your career?

I completed a Masters in Organisational Psychology focusing on both academic research and business application. I applied for a one-month contract with ETS plc which turned into a permanent position as Business Psychologist.

I have been responsible for producing employee engagement reports, using strong interpretive skills to diagnose key areas of strength and development and presenting the data in a visual report format.

Presenting recent projects to Masters students and lecturers at an occupational psychology forum was a great professional achievement for me.

I have a great opportunity not only to learn how the principles of occupational psychology are applied to organisational challenges, but to develop professional networks too.

Name: Alex Jansen Birch
Subject: BSc Psychology
Graduated: 2004
Place of work: Ipsos MORI
Position: Associate Director

Ipsos MORI provides research services to clients on a global basis. It is the only global market research company that is still controlled and operated by market researchers.

Alex has worked there since completing a Masters in Psychology.

What first attracted you to Royal Holloway?

I knew that Royal Holloway had a very good department so was happy to go there. Also, I was looking for a campus-based university as I really like that kind of atmosphere.

What did Royal Holloway teach you?

When I actually started studying Psychology here things changed a bit and I was more inspired to go down this route.

The lifestyle as a student is such that you have time to focus on your studies. There’s no other time in your life when you have that luxury, with enough time to spend with your friends.

The lecturers’ knowledge about their particular area was always inspiring. In your career you have a similar structure to the way you do things, such as writing academic papers and getting things done to a high standard.  

What’s happened in your career?

I didn’t want to go into the clinical side so it was a choice between health and occupational psychology. I decided to do a Masters because you really need it in order to pursue a career in psychology.

I was offered a junior role for a business psychology consultancy, starting on a one-year contract. I was then promoted to Analyst which was brilliant as it was just what I wanted to be doing.

Becoming Chartered was a big thing for me. I had learned a bit about personality theory at Royal Holloway but here I was trained on how to use it properly and it’s one of the things that I still find fascinating.

Name: Sophie von Stumm
Subject: Psychology
Graduated: 2006
Place of work: London School of Economics and Politics
Position: Associate Professor in Developmental Psychology

On completion of her studies at Royal Holloway, Sophie developed her career in academia and was awarded an ESRC post-doctoral fellowship at University of Edinburgh.

She is also currently writing her first book explaining the role of education in society and determinants of educational success.

What first attracted you to Royal Holloway?

I was determined to study Psychology and Royal Holloway was the highest ranking one that made me an offer. I fell in love with Surrey and its beautiful landscape but priority was the course.

What did Royal Holloway teach you?

My studies at Royal Holloway intrigued me enough to pursue psychology further and gave me the skills to do so. There are a lot of choices in terms of classes and assignments both within and outside psychology.

I liked the choice of essay questions enabling students to follow their personal interests within a course module. My thesis topic was different to the research interests of my supervisor but he was nonetheless enthusiastic and absolutely supportive.

What’s happened in your career?

My undergraduate studies played a crucial role in my choice of career as an academic. After completing my MSc and PhD I became a Senior Lecturer before being awarded a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Edinburgh.

As an academic and teacher I try to look after my students in the same way that I was taken care of at Royal Holloway, while in my research career I am able to follow my curiosity and explore new topics.

My latest book explains the role of education in society and determinants of educational success. It was a terrifying project and very different to what I normally write about and I tremendously enjoyed the challenge.

 

Name: Jaimie Sarah
Subject: BSc Psychology
GRaduated: 2008
Position: Founder, The Aligned Business Blueprint™ and Business The Aligned Way™ 

What did you enjoy most about your course?
I have always been fascinated by how people think, and pursuing my Psychology degree at Royal Holloway really helped me learn a lot more about how and why people think the way they do and what motivates them. I still use some of what I learned to this day! 

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

It helped me deepen my knowledge of people and business, become more organised, learn what interested me and what didn't, and develop as a person. These skills were invaluable when I then graduated. I also had a couple of experiences with the Careers Centre, most notably when I took my Myers Briggs Type Indicator test and that was incredibly useful when thinking about what careers would be the best fit for me and not. I still ask clients what their MBTI results are now! 

Please tell us about your career journey since leaving university and what you do now.
When I left Royal Holloway I first went into recruitment because I wanted to make lots of money and I got fired almost immediately. I was crushed, but on reflection it was the best thing that could have happened as it was such a toxic atmosphere. I then went into sales and marketing for a small company, then marketing for a massive company (SAP) followed by Thomson Reuters in both London and New York, and then started my own business as an executive coach and marketing consultant before moving back to London again. I've now been a full-time entrepreneur for 5 years.

What do you enjoy most about your line of work?
It sounds cliché but I genuinely love helping people, I always have. And my work really really helps people both in themselves and their confidence, but it also helps them help their customers better and grow their businesses faster, which I find really rewarding.

What is your greatest professional achievement to date and what are your aspirations for the future?
I won Executive Coach of The Year in the UK in both 2019 and 2020 which was very exciting, and I've also been featured in Forbes and other high profile publications for my expertise. My aspirations are to continue scaling my company into 7 and eventually 8 figures to show what's possible, and helping incredible people along the way. I am also on a mission specifically to help empathic and ethical entrepreneurs and business people thrive, and to help stamp out unethical practices in industry by doing so. This is super super important to me and my legacy. There is still too much unethical stuff that happens in the business world in the name of money, and it's just not okay. 

What advice would you give to students thinking about a career in your industry?
I would tell them to get a coaching qualification for the coaching piece, as well as some technical expertise they can use for the consulting piece (mine is marketing, but yours can be any technical area of expertise), and to get some practice clients who you can provide your support and advice to for free in exchange for feedback on their experience, and then to build from there. 

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