Roger Hammett is now Head of Recruitment Communications at the BBC. What does he remember about his student days? And how does he think his degree helped him in his career?
"Strolling around the Highfield Campus now, it is hard to believe this is the same place that awarded my degree back in 1973. Even my graduation ceremony was very different – a massive one-off occasion in the Southampton Guildhall rather than one of many more intimate affairs in the Nuffield Theatre or the Turner Sims Concert Hall.
The old Union Building and most of the buildings on the Library side of University Road were around at that time. However, the rest of the landscape has changed dramatically with the School of Nursing building, new engineering buildings, the Health Centre and, of course, the swimming pool. But what of all those lovely old houses that once lined University Road and harboured banks, the nursery, the chaplaincy and obscure departmental offices?
This is not intended as any kind of criticism – quite the opposite. The University has rightly moved with the times, grown in an impressive and sensible way and become a superb high-tech learning environment of which I, like other alumni, am justifiably proud.
So what are my abiding memories of the place? Probably, I am ashamed to admit, my memories are not of lectures or periods spent in the library, but rather those wonderful cramped, smoke-filled concerts in the Students’ Union by the likes of Free, Curved Air and Black Sabbath. To have paid two shillings and six pence for a pint of warm Watneys Red Barrel while watching Paul Rodgers singing ‘All Right Now’ more than made up for – let me say – a slightly disappointing final degree pass. And to think that the various Presidents of the Students’ Union who graced my student days are now leading lights in broadcasting or local MPs. They were good times.
My life after graduation saw me initially start a secondary school teaching career, and then return to undertake postgraduate study in careers counselling. After a spell of working in local government, I spent a number of years employed as a Careers Advisor to students at the University of Southampton. There was no keeping me away from the place, you see. During my early working years, however, I already had the media bug, although it was not until my forties that I finally joined the BBC. Without doubt, the confidence and transferable skills that my degree gave me laid the foundation to what has been a varied and exciting career. The teacher training element of my course undoubtedly helped me hone my presentation skills and ability to speak publicly, which is part and parcel of my job. It is amazing how many ex-teachers are now in broadcasting. And my year in France – again, part of my degree course – was excellent preparation for the travel and time abroad that has pervaded my working life.
Finally, it brings me considerable pleasure to continue my association with the University. My involvement includes returning to talk to students considering a career in the media or attending gatherings of alumni in my sector arranged by the university’s Alumni Society. In the last few years I have recruited two Southampton graduates to work in my immediate recruitment team of eight people. Not, you understand, because of where they studied (that would not be allowed) but it proves that graduates from Southampton really do show their worth in industries as competitive as mine."