Geoff Snelson, Alumni, School of Psychology

Geoff Snelson

My current role is Director of Strategy and Futures at Milton Keynes Council. My main responsibility is leading a programme to double the size of the new city of Milton Keynes to a population of 500,000 people by 2050. This involves creating new strategic approaches across key areas of policy including housing, economic development, culture, and mobility. Whilst I need decent technical knowledge, at its heart, the role requires ‘soft’ skills to create partnerships with government and local stakeholders to address complex issues and extensive engagement with politicians and local communities to ensure the strategy is supported.

I also lead other major complex projects for the council including ‘smart city’ innovation projects, autonomous vehicle programmes and working with Cranfield University to create a new technology university in the city. In the past, I've led our project to host Rugby World Cup 2015 matches and working with the FA on England's bid to host the 2018/22 football world cup.

My first job following graduation was as a researcher for a commission of inquiry into racial harassment in Leeds that I gained through a tutor’s recommendation. This led on to a number of public policy research roles in local authorities.     

My degree from the School of Psychology has benefited me in the workplace as the research skills I gained were instrumental in securing my first few roles - all those hours studying statistics and research methodologies paid off!  But over the long-term I've realised the skills, I gained in developing structured understanding about complex issues have been the most valuable in my public policy roles. My main interest was in social psychology and this has also served me well, especially my dissertation on how attitudes and prejudices are formed.         

The advice I would give to myself whilst I were studying would be to definitely tell myself to dip into other disciplines and read more widely and to think more fully about the broader skills I wanted to develop beyond acquiring knowledge. I’d also remind myself that having time devoted entirely to learning is a real luxury.