Case study

Senior compliance manager — Nicholas Catterall

Nicholas has used his eye for detail as a photography graduate to create a career in compliance

How did you get your job as a compliance manager?

I was working as a senior compliance officer at a smaller university when I saw my present post advertised on I applied, was invited to interview and offered the job.

What's a typical day in compliance like?

I am very much in control of my own work schedule. I start each day with a swift review of various regulatory body and government websites to read their latest news, before moving on to the numerous projects I am managing or involved in.

Day-to-day I audit our internal procedures, responding to requests and working to improve our internal documentation for processes.

Generally, projects do not have an end date and move in cycles. I also deal with unexpected issues, which require swift investigation. This keeps the job fresh and exciting.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Compliance gives me the opportunity to be involved in projects at levels, meeting people from across the university and advising on the best way to implement change.

I enjoy finding and fixing problems, knowing that the result helps to build a better environment for our students because a more compliant institution is a more stable one.

What are the challenges?

People have an expectation for compliance officers to place barriers in the way of projects and a good compliance officer needs to be able to dispel this by communicating difficult rules and legislation in an accessible manner.

It can also be difficult keeping up with the latest changes in the sector and this requires constant learning.

In what way is your degree relevant?

My first degree was a BA in Documentary and Fine Art Photography from Liverpool John Moore University. From this degree, I gained an attention to detail and a methodical approach.

I also hold an MSc in Corporate Communications from the University of West London, which was useful in helping me with the transition from team member to manager. The course greatly improved my written and analytical skills, both of which I use on a daily basis.

How has your career developed?

I started as a compliance administrator for a London university as a general graduate recruit, before being promoted to compliance officer and then senior compliance officer. The university trained me in many aspects of compliance. With each progression in my career I honed my skills and narrowed my area of interest.

What advice can you give to others?

Take as many training opportunities as you can and it will soon start to pay off. You will always benefit from a keen eye for detail and a desire to improve the working practices of your environment.

Develop your communication skills and take an interest in the sector. Many people are more than happy to point you in the right direction if you ask.

Compliance is far from the dull environment people imagine and it is an area that rewards effort.

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