Simon Faulkner giving a presentation

Where were you born and brought up?

I was born in Hong Kong (Dad was in the Army) but raised in Wiltshire (Devizes – home of 6X beer) and went to school in Bath.

Why did you choose to study geography?

It was completely down to the fact that my teachers at school were ace, and really inspired a love of the subject in me. We had a great geographical community at school, lots of my friends studied it, and I found it just made sense to me, as well as being interesting and relevant.

What exactly did you study for your degree?

I signed on to BSc Geography but ended up getting a BA as I did exclusively human modules after my first year. I specialised in cultural geographies – specifically notions of sense of place, belonging, art, scenes and subcultures.

What were the highlights?

I loved the fieldtrips (what geographer doesn’t?) especially the trip to the Pacific North West between my second and third year, which was one of the best things I’ve ever done - big shout out to Jon Shaw, Richard Yarwood and Andrew Williams who made that trip. I think the whole of third year too – it’s when I really found my stride in the subject and was studying the things I loved – my dissertation was great fun too which I’m not sure many people get to say! I think the staff played an important part in how much I enjoyed my degree, and indeed I’m still in contact with them now. Their range of different modules and also the fact that they were around to help should you need it really made a difference.

What have you done since you graduated?

Since graduating I worked for a year and a half at Centre Parcs back home. It was great fun (I effectively flopped about in the water a lot) but really developed my skills in running sessions and working with kids and adults alike.
Throughout this year I got involved in the Geography Ambassador Scheme at the Royal Geographical Society delivering sessions to secondary school students which was great fun, and really complimented a lot of the skills I gained from my degree and work.

What job are you in now?

I currently work for the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) running the Geography Ambassador Scheme. This basically involves running a volunteering scheme of geography undergraduates, postgraduates and graduates who promote the subject to students in secondary schools. The idea is to dispel the stereotypes that still surround geography and promote its diversity, relevance and employability via a range of fun, interactive sessions both in and out of the classroom. Basically spreading the geography love! I honestly couldn’t imagine doing anything else at the moment. I feel very passionately about helping inspire the next generation of geographers. The Ambassadors on my scheme are utterly fantastic and I get to work next to the Albert Hall! It’s fantastic.

How has your geography degree helped you to get (and do) the job you do now and how useful has it been in your career so far?

I loved the different methods of learning and feel that they played a really important part in my development and transition into the world of work. The analytical aspect of the subject and how it taught me to never take anything at face value – and ask the right questions, rather than knowing the right answers – has really helped with not only work, but life. I think presentation skills (which I use A LOT in my current role) was something that I really valued from my geography degree, as well as the ability to collect, manipulate and present data in a variety of different ways.

Did you expect or plan to be doing what you are doing now? Any plans for the future?

I really didn’t expect to be doing what I’m doing now. It’s something that seemed to happen very naturally and really can’t imagine doing anything else at the moment.

Would you recommend others to study geography for a degree?

Of course! It’s the best degree to study. No other degree will give you the same breadth of relevant skills, experience, knowledge and passion that a geography degree will. You’ll get fantastic opportunities and be able to specialise into what really interests you, whether you are a physical geographer, human geographer or someone who enjoys both. Geography is also (and I think this is not said enough) a social subject – you work in teams, you make friends for life and you have a great relationship with your lecturers – which all counts for so much, especially when moving on from university.