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Paul Bowman

Governance and Risk Officer, BA Geography

Why I applied

I have always wanted to be a ‘jack of all trades’. I took both English and Maths at A-level, studied human and physical geography at University, and enjoy number-crunching as much as writing, managing a project or public speaking. I have now learned that in Higher Education, we call this a generalist – and the Graduate Management Training Scheme is the perfect preparation to be just that.

Paul Bowman


There have honestly been many highlights – but I’ll choose just three. For the way it taught me to take a big dataset and turn it into something meaningful, to think strategically about an area as a whole, and for the privileged opportunity to work with some of the University’s senior leaders, I would pick my role as secretary to a Vice-Chancellor’s Review, a strategic review which every academic School undergoes every five years.

For the opportunity to work closely with academics and negotiate some very difficult balancing acts, including between funding research and protecting academic freedom, I also think of my work with the Birmingham Centre for Clinical Trials on collaborative research with industry.

For the complex-decision making, impressive expertise of colleagues and sheer intensity, the final highlight was my last week on the scheme, which I spent in the Admissions Office during August’s Confirmation and Clearing week (that’s A-level results to most people). The operation required to process thousands of sets of results and make decisions on every application in a matter of days has to be seen to be believed, and it was brilliant to be one small part of it.


The scheme offers a range of formal and informal development opportunities. I benefitted from a programme of courses on topics ranging from presentation skills and time management to resilience and assertiveness. I also had mentoring from a senior leader and support from a supervisor in each placement. But more than anything, it’s the variety of work I did and the range of people I interacted with that truly developed my skills, and that I draw upon every day in my current role.

Best advice

One of the scheme’s privileges is the breadth of understanding you gain across the University’s many and varied activities. So when you’re asked if you’d like to try something new, make ‘yes’ your default answer. I’ve (almost) never regretted it!

Roles after the Scheme

  • Executive Officer, Executive Support Division
  • Executive Support Manager (secondment), Executive Support Division
  • Governance and Risk Officer, Executive Support Division