Scott Sullivan, Alumni, School of Psychology

Scott Sullivan

I got a job at Barclays in Leeds after I graduated to earn some money. I was on a training course with someone about something really dull like insurance but the person who delivered it was amazing and brought the material to life. I thought "I'll have some of that!" so moved down to London to work for Barclays in a role in their HR team right at the bottom of the ladder. I've been able to work my way up since, have a great and varied career where I've been all over the world and worked with some first rate people. I started straddled with debt on an income of £18k a year and within ten years I've been able to pay off all my debts, earn a six-figure salary and lead a team of nearly 30.

My degree from the School of Psychology has benefited me in the workplace as I loved my undergraduate as it had so much variety and pace to it. What it taught me more than anything was how to look at people through an objective lens which is what HR is all about. There isn’t a day that goes by professionally when I don’t think about the fundamental attribution error or groupthink. It gave me the ability to look at a situation and the people in it and form a view, not just to take everything at face value. I can't think of many jobs when that wouldn’t be invaluable.

The advice I would give to myself now whilst I was studying would be authentic, more, with purpose and boundaries. I went to university with £40 in my pocket.  I worked every weekend and every holiday to pay for my nights in fruity. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the hardship bursary I got from the alumni fund which was my housing deposit, my train fare home once a semester, or my mission gold card for the year. I worried desperately about money so I worked.  That made me worry about not studying hard enough. That made me worry I wasn’t getting the university experience. But every shift I did for nightline and every LGBT coffee hour I hosted and every hour I spent on SPSS taught me that you get out of life what you put in. It taught me to be determined. To have a work ethic. To have more strings to my bow than a 2:1. I would tell myself what I would tell anyone going to university now; be authentic, more, with purpose and boundaries. And having run a graduate training programme I would tell myself that academic achievements aren’t a predictor for success in the workplace but that’s a different story….