Paul Austin: Keelite of the Month October 2014

1980 International Relations

Paul Austin What am I doing now?

I’m the Business Development Director for Newsweek Magazine.

How did you get to where you are now? 

I wish I could say I had a well thought through career plan and stuck to it. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth. In the final year ‘milk round’ at Keele I was interviewed by EMI Electronics who passed me on to their leisure division: I started my working life as the assistant manager of Blackpool Tower Circus, from there my career has followed a winding path in marketing, television and media. For ten years I ran my own company, a few years of consultancy and then Newsweek approached me.

What has been your biggest achievement so far?

When I read other Keele Alumni of the month I’m always staggered by the answers to this question. If I had to give an achievement it’s more concerned with my business life and persuading 3i to part with several million pounds to merge my company with a competitor - it still amazes me. It was also one of my biggest mistakes. I like to think my real achievement in life is yet to happen.

Keele Card 1979-1980 And your biggest mistake?

Naivety: not understanding early enough that money makes the world go round. People’s voracious, ruthless appetite for wealth still astounds me.

What are your ambitions now?

To push somebody’s face in the dirt and make loads of money…. Seriously - to double Newsweek’s circulation of course. Plus I’m working on a project that launches a daily online “soap” merged with a shopping channel and getting that to air will be fantastic.

Photo below right: Running long distance at the Serpentine, London - Paul Austin, Inter-Varsity Games 1979.

Paul Austin Runner What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in a similar field? 

Working in media today: Start early, do things on the web, write, make short films, get busy, stay in touch with what’s happening in the industry, network like mad, get noticed. The days are gone when you can walk out of University and into a job. You have to demonstrate your passion and commitment.

Secondly, tenacity: don’t give up if you want to get into the creative industries; be aware that so do millions of others.

What made you choose Keele University?   

The Foundation Year. I couldn’t believe you could spend a year dipping into so many subjects and then at the end choose what direction you wanted to follow. I also wanted to be on a campus and not in a city. It fitted all my criteria. I actually put Keele down for all five of my University choices.

What kind of a student were you?

I worked behind the Union bar three nights a week, ran the ski and squash club, was very involved in mountaineering and pot-holing and fitted in lectures and tutorials. The light came on in my final year when I got stuck into studying.

How has Keele influenced your life? 

In every way, really. It drew out my personality, made me more confident and introduced me to the world. I discovered there were people with interesting views different to mine. I learnt I was allowed to change my mind. Without Keele I wouldn’t be the person I am - I‘m indebted. 

What is your favourite memory of Keele?

With friends sledging on the refectory trays on the hill in front of Keele Hall, going so fast you shot on to the frozen lake.

What is your impression of Keele now? 

A survivor and a fighter, still different, bigger but still perfectly formed.

Field Trip to SHAPE Anything else you would like to add?

Whenever I think of Keele I think of uplifting, happy memories, great enduring friendships. I think of the seasons and Keele woods. Feeling I was on the top of the world bursting with excitement.

And finally I want to thank two people who truly changed the way I see the world and how I think, to which I am forever in their debt, they are John Vincent who sadly died of a heart attack at a far too young an age and Lorna Lloyd who still lectures at Keele. Thank you both from the bottom of my heart.

Photo left: Field Trip to SHAPE (Paul is holding his coat at front centre)