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Aron James - Keelite of the Month November 2015
2000 Sociology with Social Anthropology and International History
What am I doing now?
I'm Director of Scheduling for Discovery Communications. Schedulers decide what goes on Television and when. I told some younger students that it's a bit like DJ-ing with television programmes (but with research and graphs and stuff). We have 11 television channels in the UK & Ireland including Discovery Channel, Quest and TLC.
How did you get to where you are now?
I think a lot of the extra-curricular things I did at University helped. Steve Hoyland gave me a job as one of the resident DJs at the Student Union, I was part of the Ents Committee and later had a show on KUBE FM. That was all a lot of fun stuff to be doing at University, at first I thought wanted to work in the music industry. However, for my first job after university, I ended up being the TV Pickup Forecaster for the National Grid; I told the agency that I wanted an unusual job and all they needed was a graduate. Essentially I was predicting the power surges during TV commercial breaks for the country! I then tried Marketing, DJ-ing, working for my folks and several unpaid work experience positions in Media until I eventually ended up working for MTV. Four years later I became Assistant Scheduler on Sky One and then got a job as Discovery, where I've worked my way up. I’ve been here for eight years now.
Photo right: In the Union Ballroom
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
I've been involved in launching a couple of TV channels, we've won some Broadcast awards, I’ve met a few famous people and even partied with Professor Stephen Hawking! However, it's probably that I never dread getting up in the morning and love what I do for a living.
Photo left: At the Broadcast Digital Awards - front row!
And your biggest mistake?
Back at the National Grid! After hours of being bounced around the BBC switchboard, trying to get info on which episode of EastEnders we'd find out who shot Phil Mitchell, some bloke gave me a very cagey hint and so I put in my prediction for a massive power surge that never came. They had to put the hydroelectric dams in reverse and pump the water back up the mountain to cope! It cost a lot of money, but I kept my job.
Photo right: On the Keele Decks - DJ Aron
What are your ambitions now?
There are always ratings targets to hit but I recently got engaged and we're about to buy a new house. My priority is now starting a family. Oh, I almost forgot though… when I was little I really wanted to be an Astronaut. That’s probably still not going to happen but I’m now an experienced scuba diver and am thinking of taking up flying lessons for a pilot licence. That would be pretty cool!
What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in a similar field?
Get some media company names on your CV as soon as you can, be prepared to work for free or start with a job in the post room; I've seen both work. Be bright, enthusiastic, think differently and never give up.
Photo left: Keele Daze... Days!
What made you choose Keele University?
I had a great feel about the place when I came to visit, some students told me good things about the Union and the Foundation Year was a great idea for me since I wasn't sure what I wanted to study.
What kind of a student were you?
I struck a fine balance between doing just enough work to get a 2:1, having as much fun as I could in-between, and DJ-ing.
How has Keele influenced your life?
Being at Keele can be like living in a happy little bubble. It's a beautiful place, full of beautiful people and I'm lucky enough to still be in touch with a few and have a couple of close friends from Keele living nearby in London. I always smile when I think about those days. I also still have the odd nightmare about missing my dissertation deadline about once a year too!
What is your favourite memory of Keele?
Probably one of the legendary Ivy Runs. We'd get all get dressed in camouflage and drive around campus in a van, stealing ivy from the walls of buildings to decorate the inside of the Student Union for the annual Ball. It was hilarious.
Photo right: Keele Celebrations
What is your impression of Keele now?
I've got very fond memories of Keele. Surprisingly, I found it's still a pretty special place even after all your friends have left, just take a walk around Keele Hall and you'll see what I mean. I hope others enjoy their time there as much I did.
Anything else you would like to add?
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the place. Can I come visit sometime?
Photo left: Learning to fly - with wings - not the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers way.