Josie Jakub - Keelite of the Month January 2016

1999 Criminology and Anthropology

Josie and family What am I doing now?

I work for Amazon in Luxembourg. They have a global IT infrastructure business in addition to the website that we all know, and some of us love.  In addition to packaging our Christmas gifts, Amazon also boxes up the secret to creating and managing a fast and secure cloud.  I moved to Luxembourg to help them tell people about it.  I’m passionate about technology. I love gizmos and gadgets which is ironic because technology rarely likes me back. Meaning there is a procession of broken parts and electronic wizardry making its way from the post-box to the dustbin in our house on a fairly regular basis. When I’m not crashing drones I’m managing investments that Amazon makes in the small, medium and large companies that they partner with.

Photo left: Josie with Olivier and Emma. Olivier is French. I help Emma to speak English and she helps me with my French.

How did you get to where you are now?  

By knowing what I didn’t want, and working hard to avoid that! Honestly, at Keele I didn’t know what my career path would be.  If I’m honest, I still don’t.

After university I took the best job that I could find, in an office, and spent my time working to reach the job level above me. I have used that strategy ever since. I give every job 110% commitment and 110% passion. I find out what is needed for a promotion and make that my goal; whether it’s a place on a graduate course or recognition from a chartered institute. I always find out what training is available and I seek out mentors to give me advice about what each company is looking for when they recruit at the level above me.

This way of thinking has created jobs and homes for me in seven different cities and travel to lots of different countries. I stay within the same industry, technology, so that my CV makes sense.  Also, I make sure that every new job is with a company that is bigger than the last. I tend to keep a job for four years and I always wait for the right job to come along at the right company. It’s true that the older you get, where you chose to spend your time becomes more and more important.

Josie at Keele What has been your biggest achievement so far?  

Moving to Luxembourg. I wanted to work for Amazon for a long time but my friends and family were all in England. I didn’t know if I could cope with a new job and a new country at the same time, especially when I didn’t speak French, German or Luxembourgish! Luckily I found an Irish bar and made friends quickly.   It’s surprising how well a new language comes along after a Guinness or two.

Photo right: Josie at Keele.

And your biggest mistake?

Handing a USB stick that I thought contained the company presentation to the CEO only to realise that what he was about to present to 10 very important clients was not the company presentation at all… I had given him my Ibiza holiday photos by mistake. Waiting for the door of his meeting room to open were some of the longest minutes of my life. Luckily he checked the files and enjoyed making me think that he hadn’t.

What are your ambitions now?

To speak French - it really is a labour of love.  After that, my ambition is become closer to a cause that I care very much about: fighting water pollution. 700 million people worldwide only have access to contaminated water. You can survive days without food but not without water. Some of the world’s greatest rivers are the most polluted so if Martin Strel, professional marathon swimmer and “Big River Man” can wrestle with floating trees and piranhas in the Amazon and Yangtze rivers to tell the world to stop polluting our water, then I can do my bit too.

Keele memories What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in a similar field?  

If you want to work in technology keep an eye on technology trade fairs, websites and blogs so you can talk about new trends and have an opinion about what technology the world needs to make life better for millions of people. Landing a job in a cool company like Skype, Google, Amazon, Twitter is as much about passion as it is about skills. Make sure you have a life outside work so you have cool things to talk about in an interview. Tech companies are looking for bright people to bring a new dynamic into exiting teams so if you have always wondered what it’s like to go white water rafting or skydiving, do it now at university to be the candidate that they remember.

Photo left: Keele memories.

What made you choose Keele University?   

It was the best choice for criminology. Really. Keele’s reputation in this field is widely known and although I would have preferred to study further away than 40 minutes from my home town, I knew that Keele was the only choice for a student of this discipline.

Josie in keele room What kind of a student were you?  

Naive! I thought that a good degree would come to me in exchange for nothing more than will power and positive thinking... how wrong I was. On the days that I was ‘being a good student’ I displayed big piles of books with pride in my dorm and admired them from time to time without actually opening any. On the days that I was ‘being a bad student’ fear and guilt was powering my late night cramming sessions to catch up before an important class or a big test.

Photo right: Josie in a "typical" students' room?

How has Keele influenced your life?  

It’s not always easy being a student. Yes, we remember the good times but it’s tough to stay focused with so many distractions. Keele influences my life when I remember that I got my degree. The pride I felt and the pride I still feel when I talk about my subjects and about campus life. Not everyone has the opportunity to go to university so Keele is something that I have come to appreciate more and more, the older I get.

Keele influences my life every time I open Facebook. The friends you make here really do stay with you for life. Keele was always so multicultural, my interest to live in a new country and then feeling comfortable enough to stay here definitely started at Keele. I also think that my inquisitive side and my need to constantly ask questions started at and was cultivated by Keele.

Cooker with Toast What is your favourite memory of Keele?

Cooking toast on an electric hob with a coat hanger. Surprisingly efficient, especially if you like bread burnt in stripes!

Photo left: Cooker + toast + coat-hanger - definitely not advisable!

What is your impression of Keele now?  

Top 4% in the world... what more can you say. Keele will always be the most beautiful university in England and yet it remains one of the most dynamic, innovative, exciting places to study. Keele grounds are still inspirational and Keele students will always achieve amazing things – I’m proud to be a Keelite, forever Keele.

Anything else you would like to add?

Fourteen billion pounds of garbage mostly plastic, is dumped into the ocean every year and according to UNICEF, over 3,000 children die every day drinking contaminated drinking water.