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Leading industry experts share their career advice for local pupils

PUBLISHED: 11:47 15 April 2014 | UPDATED: 11:47 15 April 2014

Ben Macauley is a paramedic for the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance

Ben Macauley is a paramedic for the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance

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In the latest of our special series on careers advice, here we talk to four more leading industry experts – this time from the RHS, the region’s air ambulance, M&S and a well-known hotel – to find out what pupils can be doing now to get ahead

Anna Platoni is an entomologist in the science department at the RHSAnna Platoni is an entomologist in the science department at the RHS

Royal Horticultural Society

RHS Garden Wisley, Woking, Surrey GU23 6QB

Tel: 0845 260 9000 / rhs.org.uk/Science/Plant-pests

Industry: Horticultural science

Person interviewed: Anna Platoni

Role: Diagnostic entomologist

***

What’s the most exciting aspect of working in your industry?

For someone who is interested in nature and most especially insects, this is a dream job. The most exciting times are when an insect species is sent to us via our Advisory Service that I have never had a chance to see before. Sometimes, we receive a pest that is new to the UK.

Is there a type of person who works in that particular field?

To work in horticultural science, I think that it is important not just to be interested in biology and the environment but also to be driven to solve problems and investigate things in detail.

Do you have any links with local schools at all?

I don’t have any direct links with local schools but the RHS runs the Campaign for School Gardening, which aims to encourage and support schools to develop and actively use a school garden. Here in the science department, we also offer lectures and help to the students studying for the Wisley Diploma in Practical Horticulture (WDPH).

For schoolchildren hoping to work in your industry, would you advise university, apprenticeship or other?

If you would like to become a scientist then I think studying a course at university is very important both to learn theory and to get the opportunity to practise doing independent research.

Finally, what would be your top tip for them?

Volunteering and work experience allowed me to try out lots of different areas in science so that I knew which I most enjoyed. I would definitely recommend getting as much varied experience as you can as that will look good on your CV and help you decide on your future direction.

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The Mandolay Hotel

36/40 London Road, Guildford, Surrey GU1 2AE

Tel: 01483 303030 / guildford.com

Industry: Hospitality

Person interviewed: Matthew Milliken

Role: General manager

***

What’s the most exciting aspect of working in your industry?

Event organisers each have their own vision of a successful event. Having been fortunate enough to be selected as the chosen venue, whether it be for a wedding, anniversary, product launch or business conference, we consider this an honour. Playing a significant role in bringing that vision to life is extremely exciting; and personally very rewarding.

Is there a type of person who works in that particular field?
There are distinct characteristics you’ll find in successful hotel managers. Certainly, within the industry, there are leaders whom I’ve come to admire and continue to learn from. They maintain a very strong work ethic, meticulous attention to detail and a genuine desire to serve.

Do you have any links with local schools at all?

The Mandolay hosts many informal and formal meetings in support of local schools, in addition to providing a venue for various fund-raising events and parties. However, at the moment, I would say our closest link is our relationship with Challengers – a wonderful charity that provides assistance for disabled children and young adults throughout the area.

For schoolchildren hoping to work in your industry, would you advise university, apprenticeship or other?

My advice for schoolchildren interested in the hospitality industry, whether it’s through university, apprenticeship or any other route, is to simply get involved! The experience and knowledge gained through hands-on learning would most certainly complement your career path.

Personally, my own career path started whilst I was in Shapwick School in Somerset. I approached a local hotel for work and after four weeks of washing pots and peeling potatoes, I was offered a paid job as a waiter in the double AA Rosette restaurant at the weekends. As an eager young man short on cash, it was definitely a result!

Finally, what would be your top tip for them?

With every task you are asked to complete, no matter how large or small, perform it as though someone you truly admire is watching you.

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Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance

Wheelbarrow Park Estate, Pattenden Lane, Marden, Kent TN12 9QJ (headquarters)

Tel: 01622 833833 / kssairambulance.org.uk

Industry: Charity/medicine

Person interviewed: Ben Macauley

Role: Paramedic

***

What’s the most exciting aspect of working in your industry?

As a Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS), we are able to bring the emergency department to the patient and provide care and treatment that would normally only be possible in a specialist hospital setting. This for me is one of the most exciting aspects of my job, when you can see a significant improvement in a severely injured or unwell patient because of the treatment that we have given.

Is there a type of person who works in that particular field?

Every member of the team is an extremely motivated individual, with the thirst for improving clinical knowledge and pre-hospital care at every opportunity. Teamworking, with the ability to lead, is an important attribute that is called upon on a regular basis to organise and calm an often busy and stressful scene.

Do you have any links with local schools at all?

The Air Ambulance regularly gives talks to schools, from primary to senior schools and colleges, and from time to time hosts visits at the base. The charity also has a fund-raising pack that is sent to schools on request and includes facts, games and quizzes about the Air Ambulance. We are also looking at ways of further developing relationships with schools.

For schoolchildren hoping to work in your industry, would you advise university, apprenticeship or other?

The career path to become an ambulance paramedic is a degree course through a university. Once qualified, it’s really important to gain practical experience working for an ambulance service where you can develop skills in specific areas.

Finally, what would be your top tip for them?

When the opportunity came along to work for the Air Ambulance Trust, I grabbed it with both hands. These opportunities do not come around often, and so my advice to anyone considering a role as a HEMS paramedic would be to go for it! It can be a very difficult and stressful job, but the rewards will stay with you forever.

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Marks & Spencer

35 North Wharf Road, London W2 1NW

Tel: 0207 935 4422 / marksandspencer.com
Industry: Fashion/retail

Person interviewed: Jo Hales

Role: Head of buying, Autograph and Limited Edition ranges

***

What’s the most exciting aspect of working in your industry?

If I had to single out one thing that made my job exciting, it would be that feeling on a Monday morning when we analyse the previous week’s sales, and one of our pieces is the no 1 seller. Retail is one of the few professions where you can get almost instantaneous feedback.

Is there a type of person who works in that particular field?

Someone who thrives in a team, is creative yet able to make commercial decisions, is intuitive with people and likes to be aware of what’s happening around them, and it goes without saying that they love fashion and helping people look amazing. To excel in the fashion industry, you need to have determination and drive, and the key to your success as a buyer is making sure you absolutely know who your target customer is, and what is going to make her spend her money.

Do you have any links with local schools at all?

For any students wanting to find out about working with us, there are details on our website at careers.marksandspencer.com.

For schoolchildren hoping to work in your industry, would you advise university, apprenticeship or other?

There is no one best route to becoming a fashion buyer, and I have colleagues who have degrees and those who do not. The overriding similarity is the passion for product and the clear, structured way we are able to juggle the many balls in the action-packed day. Whether you choose to go down the degree route or start as a buying admin depends on what suits you best. Personally, I went to university, and studied economics and business psychology, which I have found very useful in my current management role.

Finally, what would be your top tip for them?

Be aware of everything around you; look at what people wear and how they wear their clothes. Remember as a buyer, you have to create pieces that are so desirable, that your customer will be tempted to spend their money. Get as much work experience as possible to get to know the world of retail, and to differentiate yourself from other aspiring buyers. This might be helping out in a local fashion store or working as an intern in a retailers’ head office. Also, be sure to keep up to date by linking into the latest fashion bloggers, and style.com is a great website to track the fashion shows.

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