What I studied at school
GCSE: English Language, English Literature, French, Spanish, Maths, Graphic Design, Religious Education, Science, History
A Level: English Literature, Spanish, Maths, Music
I did a questionnaire courtesy of a careers service we were offered during our GCSE year which suggested I should become a puppeteer, which was somewhat bemusing. Seriously though, I didn’t have a clear idea of the career I would have, so at that time I wasn’t being consciously strategic in my choices. What I did was to choose the subjects I enjoyed even if the combination didn’t guarantee me a set path. Since I enjoyed studying both the arts and sciences, I struggled with the idea that you should specialise in one or the other. But I think that if you study what you love, you can’t go too far wrong. The variety of my education has enabled me to have breadth in my career, which has kept me constantly engaged.
What I studied after school
My first degree was a BA in Modern Languages at Cambridge University, specialising in Italian and Spanish language and culture.
I wanted to engage with contemporary culture and decided to do an MA in the History of Design at the Royal College of Art joint with the Victoria and Albert Museum, which was a life-altering experience in many ways. I learnt to analyse the material world through theory and history and research a museum collection. I threw myself into my 30,000-word dissertation about the making of a new city in India, which drew me into ideas around architecture and urban design. I also used the time to grow my professional experience, by writing journalism and curating exhibitions. I haven’t looked back since.
I spent two years training at the RCA before starting a full-time job in the arts. However, training is a fluid term and I am in a constant process of learning through reading, meeting people, travelling to see new places, cultures and exhibitions; and also from a formative perspective, by taking on new and distinct challenges that push me to think in fresh ways.
My career path
I did my first internship while I was still at school at the BBC working on documentaries. I then did other media internships during summer holidays. Motivated by a desire to work in a private sector in my early career, I also did an internship at a few law firms, and was offered a training contract by Clifford Chance. During my time there I advised Prada, went on secondment to Liberty, the human rights charity, and spent two years working on a complex dispute between two international financial institutions in over 30 jurisdictions.
I began my MA in the History of Design at the RCA. During this time, I secured funding from the European Commission to curate an exhibition and edit a catalogue. I also launched a blog about design and the material world with my peers and I threw myself into these subjects. I worked at the V&A as a curatorial researcher and was then offered a full-time role in development working on object acquisitions. After a few years, I joined the British Council as the Head of Arts Programmes for India. Once I had returned to the UK, I decided to take up a freelance portfolio of curatorial and writing projects, before joining Icon full-time as Editor.
I have not had a linear career but looking back, the dots have joined up. From law to languages and design, I have always been drawn to humanities subjects in an inter-disciplinary context. I’ve been driven by a curiosity for how objects and the material world intersect with broader issues that shape the world in which we live. Once I began working in my early twenties, my way of thinking about my career shifted. I realised that I wanted more from my career than a job – I wanted it to be a way of being. Before I went to the RCA, this ambition seemed like a pipe dream. Now I am glad I started chipping away at it then, while I was relatively young and probably more bullish.