Tom Male

Group Business Services Graduate, Network Rail
MEng Computer Interactive Systems with Industrial Studies (2013)

 I don’t think I’ll ever forget the day I arrived at University and met many of my friends for the first time, and equally the day I graduated, which was a particularly memorable and proud occasion!

How has your career developed since graduating from the University of Birmingham?
In many ways my career journey started after finishing the penultimate year of my course, as I chose to have an industrial placement year before returning to university for my final year. My placement year was within the same department at Network Rail and, after having spent a year there experiencing different aspects of the organisation, I was offered a place on their graduate scheme. As I enjoyed the placement so much, I took up the offer and am now based in Milton Keynes, currently in an IT Service Management role.

What is the best thing about what you are doing now?
One of the things I enjoy most about what I do is the variety it offers. For 18 months I have the opportunity to ‘rotate’ around the department and try my hard work in different areas. Since starting in September 2013, I’ve spent time working in Ergonomics, Project Management, Strategic Analysis and now IT Service Management. My role is predominantly office-based but occasionally I’m required to dig out my high-visibility clothing and go ‘trackside’ to visit some of our engineers or project sites.

To what extent did your degree set you up for your career?
Whilst my current role is very people-focussed and not a technical position, I’ve found that the mix of technical and professional skills acquired through my degree has served me well so far. Having completed the MEng, there is an extra emphasis on the Professional Skills aspect and I’ve found this to be invaluable in the corporate environment that I’m now in.

How far did your degree prepare you for practice?
Whilst still at University, my final year project focused on the subject of Ergonomics and Human Factors within a railway context. This project was supported informally by my employer and meant that the content of my final year project became especially relevant to my future employment. Since re-joining Network Rail as a graduate, I’ve been able to use this experience and knowledge whilst spending time working in the Ergonomics teams.

What were the most positive and also the most challenging aspects of your degree?
In many ways the most positive and the most challenging aspects were one and the same. At the time, I found the second and third year group work elements to be particularly challenging, yet, since leaving university I’ve realised that this experience was beneficial in the long run, as I’m now competent at managing teams of people, often in a challenging context!

What advice would you give to current students studying the degree?
I would advise new students to work hard but  also enjoy themselves. Be disciplined about the time you spend studying and focussing on course material, but also take advantage of the other aspects of university life, such as the sporting/social aspect.

What was your favourite thing about the university?
Looking back, I think one of my favourite aspects was the overall environment of the University. UoB has a fantastic campus and setting, and it was a great place to study, work, live and socialise. During my time there, I also worked part-time for the Guild of Students as an Sound/Lighting technician, made a lot of friends and had lot of fun doing so!

What is your best memory of your time at Birmingham?
I’ve got two very good memories of my time at Birmingham, and both are extremes in the sense of one being the day I arrived at University in 2007, and the other being my graduation day in 2013! I don’t think I’ll ever forget the day I arrived at University and met many of my friends for the first time, and equally the day I graduated, which was a particularly memorable and proud occasion!