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Modern Languages and LinguisticsPart of Humanities

Rosemary Squire BA, Spanish with Catalan and French, 1979

Founder, Co-owner and Joint Chief Executive of Ambassador Theatre Group

Rosemary Squire's Photo

Hi, I'm Rosemary Squire and I studied BA, Spanish with Catalan and French within Modern Languages at the University of Southampton.

My humanities degree taught me to write. This is undoubtedly one of the most significantly important skills to have in business.

What was your ambition when you were at University?
I was really interested in the subject and loved learning languages and spent a year in Barcelona as part of the course, it was a thrilling time.

What made you select the University of Southampton?
The Spanish course was recommended to me because of its leading reputation and I was keen to pursue combined honours with French. I had the opportunity to spend a year in Barcelona as part of the course and speak Spanish and Catalan. I was very fortunate to study Catalan.

What did you enjoy about the course?
The Latin American studies department was very dynamic and included an extraordinary group of post-Pinochet Chilean academics and students. We put on several 20th Century Spanish dramas and read and enjoyed lots of European literature. Henry was inspirational and the department offered a rich and diverse environment with Latin American food, music and culture.

I also embraced and enjoyed the arts opportunities at the University including the theatre, the concert hall and the gallery. Lots of students didn’t engage with these valuable resources and I felt it was such a waste as there was the opportunity to engage with art on our doorstep.

Did you participate in any extra-curricular activities that provided skills that you have used after leaving?
All of the time that I was at University I also wanted to work in the theatre. When I was at University I worked in Southampton at the Mayflower theatre, I worked in the box office and in the accounts office and had to make up the pay packets every Thursday night.

We also held a National Student Drama festival in my final year and I was Business Manager. I used to go to the theatre many times. I performed in University productions as well and also studied a lot of theatre in the publications I studied. I travelled at every opportunity over the vacations and worked throughout my studies to fund these experiences.

The campus was very politicised when I was there in the 70s and we made good use of the debating chamber. We engaged with culture, arts and a real richness of diversity and my experience prepared me well for an international business career.

Did any exposure to employer involvement (such as work experience, company presentations, career mentoring) or research led learning during your course help you achieve your ambition? If so, how?
My humanities degree taught me to write. This is undoubtedly one of the most significantly important skills to have in business: the language development, comprehension and skill for writing that was required by my degree prepared me well for the board papers, presentations and the ordering of thoughts that is required in the business world.

My work experience at the Nuffield Theatre as a volunteer and with working in the payroll office at the city’s Mayflower Theatre gave me a passion for arts administration. This, together with my course, enabled me to build good business skills which allowed me to pursue an internationally successful career.

Please could you give a brief synopsis of your career to date?
I worked my way up from the bottom. I have done most of the administrative and operational jobs in the theatre. I gave up my aspirational side to go into academia and didn’t finish my PhD at Browns and came back to take up a theatre manager job in the West End. I then moved up the ranks and became Assistant to the General Manager, then deputy. At the same time in parallel, I was running an independent small-scale production company – we first produced at the Royal Court Theatre in 1984 and then we went to Dunmar and the Old Vic and Liverpool Playhouse. So I had a career on the production side as well. I left Maybox and went to become General Manager of a Production Company which over time became the embryonic company that I started with my now husband in 1991 and in 1992 we bought our first theatre. It started with a management contract for a regional theatre and one London playhouse – the Duke of York theatre. And we are now the Ambassador Theatre Group and we are the largest theatre group – probably in the world – certainly in the UK. We have 40 venues – 39 in the UK and one on Broadway, and that's the largest on 42nd Street.

What do you feel is your biggest achievement in your career?
The biggest achievement without a doubt is founding and growing the Ambassador Theatre Group into a properly integrated company. We produce everything from touring companies (small productions) to larger touring companies that produce Westside Story. We also produce anything from fun pantomimes to musicals. We aspire to be the best in each class of production.

What advice would you give to a student starting their degree at Southampton?
Use what is on your doorstep, take every opportunity to turn your experience in to a stepping stone for your career. Keep your eyes open to be able to embrace new activity, cultures and experience.

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