Meet our alumni: an interview with Madeleine Loveday
The next step 16th December 2019
I spoke to BSc Environmental Science graduate Madeleine Loveday about her job hunt post-undergraduate study, the impact of her current role as CSR Sustainability and Environment Associate at Finastra, and the adjustments made between life as a student and life as an employee.
What A levels did you study?
I studied English Literature and Language, German, Biology and Chemistry to A2 Level. It was quite an odd mixture but I really enjoyed all of those subjects, I also knew I wanted to study Environmental Science when I was picking my A Level subjects and needed to study two sciences. I went to a language-specialising school where we were encouraged to take 4 A Levels, one of which being a language. I think doing such widely different subjects made studying more interesting!
Which degree programme did you study at Manchester, and at what level?
I studied BSc Environmental Science with a Year Abroad, where I studied at Utrecht University (in the Netherlands). I was always enrolled on the Year Abroad programme and wanted to study in Germany, but this was no longer possible by the time I got to second year. Studying in the Netherlands was such a great experience, and I would recommend a Year Abroad to anyone. This program is now an MEnvSci. I also took some German language modules from LEAP through the University Language Centre alongside my degree.
What is your current job title, and what does your day job involve?
My title is CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Sustainability and Environment Associate – I have been in the role for two months. I am involved in a few different projects, which includes coordinating environmentally-focused CSR projects across different sites, as well as working with an external consultancy to measure and track the company’s carbon emissions.
What qualifications and experience did you need to secure your job?
The job specification required an undergraduate degree in a relevant field (including environmental science, geography or sustainability), as well as some work experience. Although this is my first ‘proper’ job I have previously worked for a few different companies. I did an internship at The Cheeky Panda (a start-up) during the summer before my final year, and worked for two small companies straight after I graduated in June 2019. Aside from this, ‘desirable criteria’ for the post included candidates with an active interest in CSR and planet conservation – my work and education experience successfully demonstrated my passion.
What triggered your interest in this line of work? Is it directly related to your degree?
I became interested in sustainability in the corporate environment after some work experience in a related field. I also learnt about global warming and the contribution of corporate emissions during my degree and that made me want to work in a role where I could be involved in influencing a company to have a more positive impact on the environment. Although my degree has been relevant and useful for the role, CSR in the fintech industry was not a career I considered whilst at University, because it was not a common job for Environmental Science graduates to do.
How did you go about applying for jobs prior to/after graduation?
I started my job search after University, I got help from the University Careers Service to think about what kind of jobs I might want to do and what skills I needed, as well as help with my CV. I used websites like LinkedIn, Reed and Indeed to look for jobs. I found this current role through LinkedIn, I really recommend it because you can find people who work for the company that you might have something in common with e.g. went to the same university. Knowing someone at the firm can be really helpful with the application stage and making yourself known to the hiring manager – this really helped me! For example, I knew in advance that the company I now work for has a CCAT test as part of the recruitment process, and I could prepare accordingly. I didn’t use a recruitment company because I was advised against doing that for a first role.
I applied for a few Graduate roles whilst still at University and wasn’t very successful, so I challenged myself to get some more experience to enhance my employability. Directly following University I organised work experience at two firms. It can be difficult to find paid work experience and it was expensive to work unpaid for a while, but, if you are able to do this it is a sacrifice that is really worth it. I saw that time as an investment as I gained relevant experience and skills, which helped me to get the role I am in now.
What have you found challenging or different about working life when compared with student life?
It would have to be the hours! Not just the working day but for me the commute adds a lot of time too. I also miss being able to be flexible with my time and move around, I sometimes find it difficult to be sat at a desk for the majority of the day. However, there are things I like about the routine of it and I have more time overall because throughout University I worked during the weekends.
What is a typical day in the life of a CSR Associate?
I get into the office around 9, and take some time in the morning to prepare for my day, answering any outstanding emails or researching something ahead of a meeting. I spend quite a lot of my day in meetings with my team or with people in different departments who I am working with. Being in CSR I get to work with a lot of different people across the business and some of my time goes towards planning events and projects which require a lot of organisation. As it is a global role I also have to take a lot of calls with people in the business around the world, this can make my schedule change a little as I come in earlier to speak to people in Asia and later for North America calls. I always take time for lunch around midday and make sure I have time in the day to sit at my desk and get the work done that I’ve been assigned to do.
Does your work benefit the public? What is the impact of your work?
CSR is all about projects which support communities at both the local and global level. CSR at the company I am working for has three different pillars, these are financial inclusion, social innovation and the environment mission. Although I am mainly focused on the environment mission I am also involved in other CSR projects, such as a tech lab which has been built by the company for a local London school. My role will also involve implementing strategies to reduce the company’s carbon footprint in line with its target of becoming carbon neutral by 2030, so I would say that will be pretty impactful!
You can view Madeleine’s LinkedIn profile here: www.linkedin.com/madeleine-loveday-1a300b130
Interview conducted by Jemma Stewart.