Alumni of the Month October 2010

Adam Walker: (2002 Economics and Human Resource Management)

What I am doing now?
I advise Investment Banks and Finance companies on HR strategies and I follow up this advice by rolling out those strategies and managing my clients’ processes. I work with clients globally, but I split my role between Argentina and the UK.

Alumni of the Month October 2010 How did you get to where you are now?
By accident! I spent five years in London with a start-up Recruitment Consultancy and then joined an Investment Bank, where I helped roll out a new hiring process for the “front office”.   I then went on a three month break to South America and ended up staying! I have since set up my own company, which partners with a couple of leading firms in this market, and I provide advice and complete projects related to Investment Banking recruitment and retention strategies globally (New York, London, Latin America and Asia).

What has been your biggest achievement so far?
There’s a lot I am proud of, but I think moving out of the UK “bubble” takes a lot of resilience, and opening a business was more challenging than I ever expected. I took my “beginner Spanish” language skills and improved them rapidly, while setting up operations and hiring a small team of bi-lingual locals in Buenos Aires. This stretched me further than ever, as the cultural and working practices are very different to London.  I never imagined myself outside of the UK, nor did I believe I had the ability to learn another language, so making a living across geographies has surpassed any previous ambitions I may have had.

And your biggest mistake?
Probably not having enough ambition... I have been very nervous about going into unknown territory, only to realise as I took baby-steps that a giant leap could well have brought bigger results. I may have achieved a lot more if I’d set higher standards and taken more of a risk.

What are your ambitions now?
I’m very excited by the prospect of performing a research degree/diploma on Organisational Behaviour in the Banking or HR industry, however finding time for this means it is a distant dream right now. Generally, I just hope I can continue improving in my field and perhaps one day run a division for a recognisable name, perhaps specialising in Emerging Markets.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in a similar field?
Be prepared to slog it out. I began straight from Keele at a start up firm in the City which desperately needed clients, so my role focussed around new business sales; “cold-calling” via the phone and face-to-face pitches via presentations and meetings. It’s extremely nerve-racking at first, but if you stick at it and get good, you learn so much about how business really works. Sales is the bedrock of business and getting good at sales will keep you ahead your entire career.

What made you choose Keele University?
The dual honours degree was definitely huge attraction, as was the large campus – but mainly, it chose me. It probably sounds ridiculous, but I couldn’t decide which uni to go to out of Keele and Lancaster so I flipped a coin... I am very pleased it turned up heads!

What kind of a student were you?
In the first year I barely passed as a student, enjoying uni-life to the “full”. I got very serious about things in the 2nd and 3rd year, treating life like an office, and spending 9 to 5 either in the library, or in lectures. Any other spare time was spent playing rugby (Keele Club Captain), heading to AU/SU meetings or drinking with friends in the union.

How has Keele influenced your life?
Keele represents the best three years of my life. Never again will I get to experience life like that again.  The way the campus is set up allows students to do as much (or as little) as wanted, and in a safe environment that allows you to “break loose”. I really found my feet at Keele, because there was so much to do, both academically and socially, it would be hard not to enjoy yourself.

Rugby Sevens Champions What is your favourite memory of Keele?
I’m not sure, as there are so many: running the Keele Rugby 7’s Tournament was an experience, and was almost as good as winning it the following year! But the fact I can’t I cannot hear that TakeThat song, “Never Forget” without my mind racing back to Wednesday nights at the Students Union suggests an amalgamation of Union nights-out forms my favourite memory.

What is your impression of Keele now?
It’s changed a lot, with new buildings and business centres, I am interested to see how the University manages the relationship between education and business in the future. Regardless of how course content may change, Keele still seems to offer a unique opportunity for students of all backgrounds, as it is a chance to be part of a real community where anyone can fit in, enjoy themselves and flourish academically and  personally.

Anything else you would like to add?
When is the next Alumni reunion?