Case study

Senior consultant — Joe Taylor

Joe works for a company that helps clients digitally transform their organisations to meet a range of business challenges. Find out how his sociology degree helps his day-to-day work

How did you get your job as a senior consultant?

After graduating with a degree in sociology from the University of Birmingham, I secured a place on the National Graduate Development Programme, a two-year graduate management development programme run by the Local Government Association. I then contracted as a project manager for a community-based housing association in-sourcing their repairs service.

Following a successful project delivery, my contract was coming to an end when I spotted the job of senior consultant at Sopra Steria advertised on LinkedIn. The previous 12 months had been a huge learning curve and I was eager to find a position that would allow me to use this experience - and be a step up. After an initial conversation with the recruiter and three rounds of interviews, I was offered the position and it was a very easy 'yes'.

What's a typical working day like?

I meet with clients and get to know the business, apply tools and techniques to understand the challenges (and opportunities), then implement solutions. Currently I also programme manage the transformation, making sure the team are delivering and making an impact.

How relevant is your degree?

In terms of subject knowledge, there are parts of my degree that relate directly to my work. For example, I use my studies in behaviour change or 'nudge' when creating solutions for clients.

In broader terms, my sociology degree taught me how to research effectively, a skill I use on a daily basis from researching clients to market trends.

Another asset required for my success at university, and which I use each day in my work, is analysing data and information. I use this in everything from producing commercial bids to getting to the heart of a problem.

Lastly, throughout my degree I had to write up and present my findings, which is crucial to the role I do today. I have to present my analysis in an appropriate and influential format to senior managers and clients regularly.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy being able to make a difference by tackling big problems which have the most impact on people's lives.

What are the challenges?

The main challenge is the changing nature of the world, including demographic, social, political and technological changes, and making sure that we offer effective solutions whilst future-proofing our clients.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

I hope to have progressed further in my career and still be making a difference!

What advice can you give to others?

University presents you with so many opportunities to meet people and try new experiences. You'll never be around as many people, societies, groups and sports teams, nor have as much time to take advantages of these opportunities, as you have now. Make sure you focus on your degree but also grasp these opportunities, and if there isn't a society you’re interested in, start your own.

Use your summer break to take that internship, attend that networking event, or join that sports team. Taking these opportunities will not only enrich your time at university, but will kick-start your career.

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