This year’s Consulting, Tech and Data week fell during a time of economic instability for the
country/on the cusp of a recession. So, it felt particularly vital to hear from industry professionals
who provided relevant insights on their respective fields and how they have been affected by the
current climate of the workforce.
The event was short and sweet and it was fantastic to hear from a range of panellists who all
had different expertise and could offer a range of interesting opinions and experiences around
entering the workforce in the sector.
The panel consisted of 5 professionals from finance, IT, accounting and shipbroking, and
recruitment. It was well worth missing the sunny weather outside for an afternoon of informative,
practical, and relatable advice from our panel, one of whom was even a Reading uni alumni!
We had the privilege to hear from Jamie Cheesman, a manager at KPMG, one of
the infamously prestigious Big 4 accounting firms. Cheesman, an alumni from the University of
Reading, stressed the importance of focusing on your own path. A Philosophy graduate, he
spoke about how he believed you should study what you’re interested in and extend that
interest into your job search through finding companies with which you have comparative
interests over their prestige. Cheeseman’s simple advice to students making applications seemed to
convey the importance of understanding your environment. He spoke about how his
understanding of the structure of corporate organisations helped him, as well as how to operate
with an organised mind. When asked about a challenge he has overcome in his career, he
revealed his own personal experience with traditional learning and how he believed it didn’t fit
him and that he had to find other ways to display his talents and skillsets to prepare him for different
Next, we heard from manager and ex-engineer Burimi Sowande from Google. Sowande believed
in the importance of company loyalty, stating ‘as the company grows, you grow with them.’ He
gave examples of the potential benefits of this ethic, including working with some of the largest
companies in the world and on complex projects. Sowande stated that the most important
quality he looks for in candidates is curiosity about their work and having an organisational
mindset. He offered advice derived from his personal experience as well, mentioning how it was
important to apply to a least 20-30 vacancies. He ended with some reassuring comments,
stating that as you gain more experience, you will get promoted quickly. Burimi revealed some
golden words of wisdom on what he believed was the most important skill in tech – the ability to
learn and unlearn information.
It was fantastic to see a 3:2 gender balance of men to women on our panel, the first of these
being Maria Kostourilla from FDM Recruitment who believes in learning beyond your job
description. She spoke about how she was learning to code in HTML and CSS, and the
importance of being able to multitask. Her advice on how to show this to those applying was to
do some extracurricular activities and put them on your CV. Kostourilla, a Psychology graduate
who transitioned into tech, emphasized how vital it was to have a genuine interest in your field
and an open mindset to learn.
Perhaps one of the most inspiring faces of our panel was that of Andrew Osayemi, producer of
hit Netflix sitcom ‘Meet the Adebanjos’, turned Head of Infrastructure and Legal at investment
bank Morgan Stanley. Osayemi, who has been featured in Forbes, shared his struggle
overcoming redundancy earlier in his career, picking himself up from it, and ultimately deciding to
pursue his creative vision. Osayemi, like Sowande, encouraged us to apply to as
many firms as possible. Additionally, he offered some helpful advice on why
applicants should focus on building relationships with their employers. He also drove home a
point from Cheesman about the constantly evolving markets, reminding us all of the unstable
times in which we are currently living.
Our final panellist was Danae Mendez from Maersk. Mendez offered an interesting perspective
on handling the daunting interview process – through seeing it as a game!
She encouraged us to remain positive through rejection. Mendez enthusiastically
highlighted that every skill is useful, as someone who personally took a degree in a completely
different field to her current work. It was so refreshing to hear her unique and fun take on the
application process, and the whole room remain completely engaged whilst she was talking. To
finish, Mendez put herself in the shoes of an applicant, and said she would study statistics and
observe market trends to prepare herself.
Overall, the event proved very successful, with some insightful questions, and many participants eager to chat to the panel afterwards!
Author: Shreya Sharma, Careers Ambassador