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Paul Newton: Keelite of the Month April 2017
005 Geography and Information Systems
What am I doing now?
I’m currently Digital Communications Manager at Keele University, living with my Keelite wife (after our Keele Hall wedding in 2012) Alison (Bowyer) and three-year-old son. So yes, I still have some connections to Keele!
How did you get to where you are now?
By being in the right place at the right time! After graduating from Keele in 2005, I worked at a secondary school and 6th Form College in Chadderton for a few years. I then took a gap year and travelled around the world with Ian, my Keele flat mate (who was later my best man). When I returned in 2008, I was lucky to be employed by Staffordshire Police in the Communications Team just before the global financial crisis and the police’s freeze on external recruitment. This role gave me a wealth of knowledge and experience across all aspects of web development and communications, as did moving to the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner in 2012. In 2015, I saw my current job at Keele being advertised by chance, and it was too much of a golden opportunity to miss. By happy coincidence, my desk in the office is exactly half way between where I lived in the first year (Horwood 'Z Sheds') and our third year Barnes flat!
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
Now that I am Keelite of the Month, I can cross that one off the list!
I’m proud of my educational achievements, especially completing the CIPR Diploma a few years ago with a new-born son and lack of sleep! But probably - to be completely stereotypical - my biggest achievement is my family.
And your biggest mistake?
I can’t think of any mistakes I regret. Mistakes = experience.
What are your ambitions now?
Again, with the risk of sounding cheesy… I’ve been incredibly fortunate over the last decade in my personal life and career. If I'd made a list of things to do before I was 30 (travel, buy a house, a car, get married), the majority would have been crossed off - although I still haven’t owned a classic Mini Cooper! I’m in a job I enjoy, at a lovely campus university, where I am undertaking a large web transformation project with a great team. I’ll be seeing this project through, and then seeing what else Keele has to offer.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in a similar field?
Build up your online portfolio. Write blogs and record vlogs, and share them far and wide. These will help make you stand out from other candidates, and show your passion for communications and marketing.
When it comes to career progression, your choices are half chance. I’m lucky to have been encouraged to move between web development, marketing and public relations in my work. My advice would be to gain as much wider experience as possible, and be a “yes” person. Be positive about all opportunities, and enjoy what you’re doing. If you’re positive in your role, people will want to work with you and you’ll be presented more chances. My favourite piece of advice is: be a no-ego doer.
What made you choose Keele University?
I went to the Manchester UCAS fair in 2001, fully expecting to be applying to Lancaster or Manchester University. But it was at that fair that I saw the Keele University stand, and the photos of campus that drew me over. I hadn’t heard of Keele before, but after flicking through the prospectus and visiting the first open day, I was hooked.
What kind of a student were you?
A good student! Hard working, motivated, I enjoyed 'Outlaw' on a Wednesday night, cheese, chips and beans, playing the Counter Strike Student’s Union custom map! I wasn’t really engaged with the work of the Students’ Union though (which, looking back, I wish I had been).
How has Keele influenced your life?
The dual honours degree was so valuable in developing my wide skill set; from coding in one class, to human geography research methods in another. It’s unique as it really does set you up for (almost) any eventuality when you leave University. Additionally, like everyone else who studies at Keele, you really do make friends for life here. I met my wife here, and my best friends. And even now, Keele is still influencing my life, for better and for worse! To borrow a quote from Alumni Officer John Easom who says, “You might love Keele, but you don’t always like it, because you always want it to be even better!."
What is your favourite memory of Keele? Good memories and sad memories. Keele Hall was the last place I was with my grandma in 2003, so that’s a special memory. But in terms of other memories... frosty mornings sat inside my Z shed kitchen, watching the steam rise from the vent outside; listening to the distant rumble of the M6 on lazy Sunday morning lie ins; FIFA tournaments and American Pie watching; hazy summer days on Keele lawns after our final 3rd year exams, throwing around an American Football, and not talking about the inevitable heartbreaks of saying goodbye to come.
What is your impression of Keele now?
Keele is developing and evolving in an exciting and future facing way, whilst at the same time staying true to its roots. Plus, my corner of the office gets really hot in the summer.
Anything else you would like to add?
Never forget where you've come here from... Someday soon this will be someone else's dream (Barlow, 1995).