The journey from NBS Student to ‘Purple Pound’ Business Owner- Q&A with Tom Fadden

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Please explain how your career has developed since graduating?

Since graduating from BSc Business Management in 2010 I successfully secured a number of internships through the Evolve internship programme at UEA.

My first internship was with the outreach office as a social media marketing intern, working with local schools and colleges to encourage continued study into further education. This then led to an external internship with the local business, again as a marketing intern helping businesses to develop across Europe.

I then secured an internship at Norwich Business School as a social media marketing intern helping them to promote the school and develop active conversations with students through the use of social media. This internship experience allowed me to gain a place on the MSc Brand Leadership programme in 2011 with a scholarship award.

After my MSc, I secured another internship with UEA Law as a marketing intern helping to promote the school both on and off-line.

As with every new graduate I found it difficult to secure long-term employment. After volunteering for a local disability rights charity, I became a community engagement officer at the charity and it was my experience gained at the UEA and subsequent intern positions that secured me the job.

I worked for three years in community-based projects that included advice and advocacy in the local community, disability sport and developing the charities marketing function, particularly online.

I am now working for myself and have set up a disability consultancy called Purple Reach. Whose aim is to assist businesses and community organisations to better understand their customers with disabilities.

The experience I gained throughout my time at UEA has been invaluable to me and I am still referring back to them today.

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What is the most rewarding aspect of your current role or your greatest career achievement so far?

The most rewarding aspect of my current role is being able to use the skills and experience I have developed to help others and to change attitudes and assumptions towards disabled people for the better.

The greatest achievement in my career so far is to have set up my own business and secured business loan funding from The Prince’s Trust to do so.

What steps did you take in finding employment?

One of the best decisions I made was to speak to the UEA Careers Service at the jobs fair as a first year undergraduate. This led me to getting student job as a tour guide, which helped a lot with my finances.

Post graduation, I found a number of employment opportunities through the UEA internship scheme and I also attended an employment Boot Camp weekend hosted by the careers service that helped me develop and hone skills that were instrumental in me gaining employment.

What are the key skills you learnt as part of your course? Were there any modules you took that were particularly useful?

Aside from learning fundamental aspects of marketing and business, the key skills I developed from my undergraduate degree were networking, presenting, entrepreneurship and strategic marketing. The modules that I found particularly interesting and use regularly in my work were Strategic Brand Management and Entrepreneurship for Small Business. Thank you to Peter Schmidt-Hansen and Heya Al-Dajani for making these topics interesting, memorable, and without which, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

My MSc in Brand Leadership was the best year of my life. I met so many people from so many different backgrounds. I also had the opportunity to work with some of the world’s best brands, and most importantly, got the opportunity to put all the skills I’d learnt into practice regularly from day one.

How have these skills, or your course, made a difference in your career development?

The skills and experience I gained throughout my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at the UEA have not only given me the skills necessary for my career, but also the confidence and ambition to know where I want to be, and how to get there.

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Did you develop further skills in other ways during your time at UEA? For example, as a member of a society/club, or through any volunteering you were involved with?

Aside from my academic involvement at UEA, I learnt as much, if not more, from extra-curricular activities. This included, being a member of Access for All- a student access group for the university, becoming a student mentor for new undergraduates at the Business School, and working as a student tour guide- developing and delivering accessible campus tours. One of the most rewarding experiences during my time at the UEA was being elected as disability campaign convener in 2009, representing students with disabilities on the student council. All this experience has allowed me to put my academic knowledge into practice and to further develop real world skills that are highly sought after in my pursuit of employment.

Why did you choose to study at UEA rather than another institution?

I chose to study at the UEA for a number of reasons, but primarily it offered a world class undergraduate Business Management programme, and my choice was reaffirmed on an open day visit. I fell in love with campus and could definitely see myself studying there. I did consider other institutions, but I did not get the same feeling from them as I got at UEA.

Do you have any tips or advice for current students or recent graduates, and in their future job search?

For most of you, your undergraduate degree will be three years, maybe four. When you begin it feels like you have all the time in the world. Please do not take this time for granted, get involved in university life fully from day one. You never know where it will lead. For example, friends I made in my first week as an undergraduate and lecturers I met during my induction are still in touch and helping me today.

With thanks to Tom Fadden for contributing to the NBS Blog. 

Purple Reach is a Norfolk based disability consultancy that believes in the social model of disability. We are here to work with businesses and third sector organisations to help them better their understanding of disability, to benefit both communities and businesses alike. The ‘Purple Pound’ represents the £212 billion annual spending power of the disability community in the UK. Purple Reach is here to help you serve this untapped potential through services including: Consultancy, Training, Mystery Shopping and Access Auditing. Please visit the Purple Reach website for further information on our services.

 

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