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Alumni interviews

Alumni interview: Julian Gould-Williams

28 July 2014

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For those entering the job market, remember the skills you’ve learnt at university, and apply them to your work situation. Don’t forget them – use them!

Cardiff alumni Julian is now a Senior Lecturer in Human Resource Management in the Cardiff Business School. 

Hi Julian! What did you study at Cardiff University?

I did a BSc in Hospitality Management, followed by a Post Grad Diploma in Social Science Research Methods, then a PhD in Social Sciences titled  ‘The Impact of ‘High Performance’ HRM Practices on Employee Commitment, Service Quality and Value:  A Study Conducted in the Hotel Sector’.

Why did you decide to study in Cardiff?

I returned to Cardiff after a ten year break from education. When I was 18 years, I was interested in hotel management. I enjoyed the course, so returned to complete my degree.  

My PhD in HRM and Marketing combined my favourite two subjects. I was interested in seeing what techniques managers could use to motivate and develop commitment amongst their workforce, together with investigating their impact on service delivery. 

Well we’re pleased to see that you now work for the university. What do you do?

I am now a Reader in HRM (August, 2014), specialising in management, leadership and motivation in public sector organisations at Cardiff Business School. 

Can you describe your student experience at Cardiff University?

I felt I was living a dream during my three years of undergraduate studies! I really enjoyed the learning experience. I’m afraid that I found the PhD experience a wake-up!   It was very, very challenging and at times, overwhelming. 

How did your university experience impact you?

My undergraduate studies were fantastic!   Even though I was 11 years older than my student cohort, they treated me as one of the crowd. I particularly enjoyed the projects we were assigned to do, such as the Business Plan and my final year dissertation. I got the same sense of excitement when pursuing my PhD. To this day, I still get a buzz from collecting primary data and analysing the results.   Knowing I’m making a small contribution to knowledge is amazing.  

Do you remember facing any particular challenges?

Even though my wife and I had a new born baby girl at the start of my studies, and a baby boy born at the end of my second year of studies, the sleepless nights didn’t interfere too much with my studies. I made sure I treated studies as I would secular employment, so I didn’t have long summer breaks.  Instead, I used these weeks to prepare for my dissertation and revision programme. Of course, I had to do part time work to supplement my grant (yes, I was one of the lucky ones to receive a grant to study!)

Do you have a favourite memory?

The excitement at starting a new academic year – I literally couldn’t sleep the night before enrolment! 

Did you do anything particularly of note during your time in Cardiff?

I acted in an informal capacity as student advisor to my colleagues.   Many students would call me on my land line (mobile phones were rare at this time) to ask for advice with assignments or other study issues.  

How does it feel being back?

I was offered a job at the university before completing my PhD.  So, essentially, I never left.  However, the first time I walked down the lecture theatre steps to present my lecture was terrifying!  Even though I was determined to mirror the good qualities of exemplary lecturers, my nerves simply overwhelmed me, and I failed in my endeavours. However, after receiving student feedback following my first semester of teaching, things got better. 

The university is now more teaching focused and values student feedback through its various channels.  We now have a lot more administrative support and guidance when applying for research grants. Also, Cardiff has made huge investments in facilities and buildings and seeks to reward and recognise good practice.  

What advice would you give to students embarking on their university career?

Remember why you are here – to study, learn and gain valuable life experiences so that you are equipped with the skills needed for the job you want.  Don’t miss lectures – they are there for your benefit.    Take advantage of the careers advice and workshops provided by the university and/or School.   Think about added value – what besides your degree can you offer future employers?   The main thing, enjoy your time as a student and keep focused on graduation day.    It’ll come sooner than you think!  

And what about to graduates who are leaving Cardiff this July?

For those entering the job market, remember the skills you’ve learnt at university, and apply them to your work situation.    Don’t forget them – use them!! 

For those who wish to pursue post graduate studies, I would ask, why do you want to do so?  Is this to enhance your career prospects, to help you stand out from the crowd?   Is the Masters’ degree one that is sought after and valued by the industry sector you wish to join?  Or, are you pursuing postgraduate studies because your parents want you to, or you didn’t perform as well as you anticipated in your undergraduate studies?   Whatever may be the case, be determined to succeed.   Build on the experiences gained during your undergraduate studies and be determined not to allow the same issues to affect your post graduate studies.    Enjoy studying!!!