I grew up in a small town called Lichfield in the UK. As the son of a vicar, it was a relatively meager childhood, but as the youngest of four, there were plenty of hand-me-down toys, and endless boxes of Lego to keep me entertained. After secondary school I was lucky enough to be able to study something I was truly passionate about at university, and Exeter in the south of England was one of the top schools for Computer Science. Whilst the university itself had a great reputation, it was the surrounding countryside and environment that led me to select it over other potential institutions.
My choice of school turned out to be fortunate for a number of reasons. During my first year, I volunteered at the student radio station, and was selected to host a morning breakfast show. It was my first real taste of work in the media, and it eventually led to a show on a version of the station that was broadcast across the whole city. I was hooked.
In my second year, I took up an offer from an alumna of the Computer Science department to participate in internship interviews at Lehman Brothers, the investment bank for which she worked. I spent the following year working on the trading floor in their London office, cutting my teeth as a technology analyst. At the end of the programme, they offered me a permanent job in return for a first class degree upon graduation, which I was able to deliver. For the next 2 years I undertook a variety of roles in London, after which they moved me to a new project in New York.
On September 15th 2008, everything changed when Lehman Brothers went bust. There was still a job, but with no business, there was little work to do. I was offered a position in the UK with a finance technology company, but the idea of going “home” was not particularly appealing. Barclays Capital, who bought the assets of my former employer, instead offered me a role running a team in Singapore – I jumped at the chance to try somewhere completely new.
Just weeks before I left the U.S., I happened to meet a woman who eventually became my wife. We dated very (very) long distance whilst I lived in Asia, and after getting married in Singapore a year later, we fell pregnant with a little boy. Morgan Stanley offered me a job in Hong Kong, and moved both of us from our respective countries to one place. Just a few weeks after starting my new job, our son was born, and our lives rapidly became completely different.
Fatherhood has been an amazing, if utterly exhausting, experience. It has also led to a different outlook on life. My decision to make a career switch was led by the simple wish to inspire my son by doing a job I truly care about. With ten years under my belt at various investment banks, I had grown tired of the monotony of the application support projects with which I was involved.
By undertaking journalism, my aim is to apply journalistic creativity, best practice and methodology to my other love, computers. The growing interest in data journalism by the worldwide media, and the JMSC’s on-going push to recruit computer scientists, motivated me to apply. As a Google Data Journalism scholarship holder this year, I will be taking a hybrid degree with a strong focus on Computer Science in my second semester. Telling stories from big data is not a million miles away from the work I have been doing to date, so this programme is beginning to feel like a natural evolution of my career, rather than a change.