The University of Southampton
Alumni and supporters

James Wicks

BSc Physiology and PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology

James completed his PhD in 2006
James Wicks

What was your first job after graduation?

Contract Research assistant, PPD

What is your current job?

Managing Director, Primer Design Ltd

What were your main responsibilities and duties in your first job after graduation?

Photocopying! And some administration of global clinical trials. It was a terribly dull job. I felt very undervalued and my abilities and knowledge were wasted.

What are your main responsibilities and duties in your current job?

Overall responsibility for the creation, running and development of Primer Design Ltd.

What has been your favourite job since graduation? Why was it your favourite?

My current one. It has been fantastic fun starting and building a company. Creating jobs for 20+ people is particularly satisfying. I love the variety that running a small business brings too.

What have been some of the key moments in your career?

On reflection hating my first job really gave me the motivation to make a success of my second job. That first job was where my attitudes and opinions on work and career were formed. Quitting that and taking a gamble on being part of something totally new was the key moment.

Do you feel that the University of Southampton and the course you studied here have helped you in your career?

Undoubtedly. Many of my current colleagues and all three company directors all come from the University. The knowledge and experience that we all gained from the University is the heart of the expertise in our company.

What advice would you give to current and prospective students who desire a similar career to yours?

If you are not very good at one thing but fairly good at most things when you have a crack at them and if you are creative then don’t waste a moment before starting your own business. It’s hugely rewarding and motivating.

What made you decide to study at the University of Southampton?

I had very little plan in choosing my university. It was a good university, with a good reputation and they made me an offer so I took it!

What made you decide to study your particular course?

I began a degree in Psychology but quickly decided that it was not scientifically robust enough and switched to Physiology in the first term. I’ve always been fascinated by biology and the human body in particular.

What did you like about Southampton as a place to live?

Southampton ticks all of the boxes that you need as a student in terms of social offerings. It’s also near to lots of other great places: Winchester, New Forest and London.

What advice would you give to current students studying your course at the University?

Appreciate just how fun university is. The world of work can be great, but you will never have the chance to enjoy the blend of learning and social life that you have at University. Savour it for those few years.

What achievement are you most proud of since graduating?

Getting married, having babies and starting and growing our company.

Are you still in touch with fellow alumni from your time at the University of Southampton?

I’m still in touch with lots of friends. Facebook is the number one medium for this. If the university wants to build a successful alumni network then they need to embrace Facebook/Twitter.

Can you sum up your experience at the University of Southampton in three words?

I can do it in 2! Laughing and learning.

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