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Stephen Barber - Keelite of the Month September 2016
2006 Politics & Sociology
What am I doing now?
I'm a Programme Publicist in the ITV Press Office, looking after programming across Entertainment, Drama and Factual genres. I publicise a huge variety of programmes, from family entertainment shows like Ninja Warrior UK to travel documentaries like Christine Bleakley's Wild Ireland, from reality shows like Love Island to 1950's drama Grantchester, which means no two days are the same. As well as publicising the shows via interviews, set visits, press launches and so on, my role involves a fair bit of crisis management, which keeps me on my toes!
How did you get to where you are now?
I really enjoyed the subjects I studied at Keele, but I wasn't entirely sure that my career path would be directly linked to them. After I got back from travelling, I went for a Graduate Scheme with Orange that offered placements in a variety of departments, to get a better idea of what interested me and what I was good at. I got a placement in the Communications department and loved it. They offered me a permanent role so I finished the Grad Scheme early.I then secured a role in the Internal Comms department at ITV, where my boss was coincidentally a fellow Keelite!
After 18 months in that role, I wanted to learn something new and challenge myself. I'd worked closely with the PR department and made it clear that I'd relish the opportunity to be a part of the team. I was in the right place at the right time and had networked with the right people, and moved across into Programme Publicity.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
I've achieved a huge amount in my role, but for me my biggest achievement is my MBA. I completed it part-time with lectures and exams at weekends whilst working full-time during the week – so in my mid-twenties, whilst a lot of my friends were still out partying, I was studying. I sacrificed a lot for it, so it's something I'm really proud of.
And your biggest mistake?
I'm really happy with where I'm at in life, and I think any decisions that I may have considered 'mistakes' at the time, have got me to where I am now.
What are your ambitions now?
I'd love to live abroad for a couple of years, with the US being top of my wish list. I might take a sabbatical at some point to go travelling, as it's something I love doing – it would be great to find a partner to do that with though!
What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in a similar field?
I always find this tricky to answer, as my career path wasn't planned out. Broadly though, try and get related experience wherever you can. Network with the right people, and utilise any contacts you make to your advantage. I always try and invest time in networking with a wide variety of people, as you never know when you might need them. In return, I always try and find time for people who may need my help and advice. What goes around comes around!
What made you choose Keele University?
The fact that I could study two subjects at Keele really appealed to me. When I visited the campus, I knew it was the place for me – I loved the fact that everything and everyone was contained on one campus.
What kind of a student were you?
I was a bit of a social butterfly – I really enjoyed having friends from different courses and countries. I was very aware that it was a special time and that the three years would fly by, so I never missed an opportunity for a night out – something my Keele friends will attest to!
That meant I had to work hard to maintain a balance with my studies. It helped that I managed to go the whole three years without a 9am lecture!
How has Keele influenced your life?
The things I learnt in Sociology still resonate with me and affect how I think about society and politics.
I’ve got friends for life, having been to a few Keele weddings and having Keele reunions. The friendships I made have lasted a decade and are still going strong.
Photo above: At the AU Ball with Elly - in Keele Hall Ballroom
What is your favourite memory of Keele?
Mr CHEBS – my flatmates (Clara, Hannah, Ellie, Bryony and myself) created a surprisingly convincing ‘man’ made out of clothes and named him with our initials. We then spent the day photographing him around our Halls and sitting him in the kitchen with the lights off and waiting to hear the screams from our fellow students! It’s just a perfect example of the random fun we used to have.
What is your impression of Keele now?
I went back there a couple of years ago to speak to students about life after Keele and it was a bit surreal. The place looked different but it had the same warm and friendly feel to it. I’m incredibly proud to be a Keelite.