Owen Wallis – BSc (Hons) Media Lab Arts graduate

Current employer: Crowdfunder.co.uk

Current job title: Product Lead

Current location: Newquay, Cornwall

“I’ve worked closely with four companies now which were started by Plymouth University graduates, so if you’re looking to start a strong digital company then Plymouth certainly has the capability to really help.”

Tell us about your career path since graduation.

I spent a few years at Twofour where I had undertaken my work placement, running the digital team before moving to Australia. I then spent a year in Sydney at an advertising agency before coming back to a company in the UK (HMC) that had been setup by some of my old University friends. I worked there for a year before heading to London where I ran the development team at an amazing website production company called Less Rain. I then headed back to Cornwall to help start-up a company called Crowdfunder.co.uk, which has now grown to be the number one crowdfunding platform in the UK with the support of Plymouth University.

What is the most difficult thing which you have faced in your career?

Working at companies who experience redundancies is never fun; seeing your friends lose their jobs is never nice. Working in my current role in the start-up world at Crowdfunder.co.uk has been the most difficult because everything we face is pretty much something brand-new that no one else has had to deal with before. So I have to draw on all my past experience in making judgements. It’s the most difficult, but also the most rewarding.

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

Spending a year working in Australia was amazing and I recommend to everyone that they work overseas at least once in their career. The time working at HMC was great as we made lots of interactive museum exhibitions for Cadburys, CERN, Audi etc which was great fun. Also, working in London was a wonderful experience: getting nominated for a BAFTA was a real highlight. I have to top of my list, though, with my current role at Crowdfunder.co.uk. I was the first employee to join; there are now over thirty of us, so we’ve had great growth over the past three years.

What, if anything, would you do differently if you could?

I’d have ‘branded’ and advertised myself a lot more and made more of the internet to beef up my online presence. Since I started doing that my career has really taken off.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?

This would be advice for any line of work really: study companies you like and learn how they work. Learn how you work and learn as an individual and play to your strengths, improve on your weaknesses; learn how to get others to learn and enjoy working with you. Never stop learning and wanting to improve yourself.

Did you undertake a placement during your degree and if so, how did this benefit you?

I did take a work placement and I would thoroughly recommend everyone to do the same. Working at pace in a real world environment is essential to any student. At the end of my second year I was a 2:1 student, taking the work ethic from my placement year into my final year took my grade to a 1st class with honours. If I hadn’t have done the work placement I don’t think, realistically, that I would have achieved this grade.

What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth? 

I think the presentation to my lecturers for my final year project was one which sticks in my mind. I made an interactive nipple hooked up to a webcam which did facial recognition. When I met someone new I could touch my nipple to see if they were worth talking to or not. So if you meet me someday and I touch my nipple, and we carry on talking, you’ll know you’ve passed the test.

Do you stay in touch with other Plymouth University alumni or lecturers?

I keep in touch with many people from my course and also the lecturers, who helped us to achieve the goals we wanted to achieve in our respective careers. I’m also just about to take on my third placement student from Plymouth University – so I’m keeping in touch with the University itself also.

Would you recommend undertaking a course with Plymouth University, and why?

I’ve worked closely with four companies now which were started by Plymouth University graduates, so if you’re looking to start a strong digital company then Plymouth certainly has the capability to really help.

I’d recommend – as with any course – you make sure to connect and keep in touch with everyone. It’s amazing to this day the opportunities that come up from my old course-mates; for example, someone recently offered me the chance to go and talk to the UN in Singapore about the work we’re doing at Crowdfunder.co.uk improving communities.

Is there anything else which you would like to share with our current students?

When going to interviews do a massive amount of research on the company for whom you are going to work. Research everyone who works there on LinkedIn. Research all the company’s competitors. Come to the interview with something you have found which could transform or improve the company. It will massively set you apart from other candidates.

Inspired by this story?

For more information about our range of digital art and technology, and media arts courses within the School of Arts, Design and Architecture please visit the school page.

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