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Alumni

Eleanor Fulford

Career Path: Senior Global Regulatory Specialist, Synthomer
Location: Harlow, UK

Having taken a degree in Applied Biology at Northumbria, I wanted to do something that would again use my skills in science in a more practical way where I could work in a career where I could see the application in the 'real world'. I decided to not just look for jobs that specified biology, but also those with chemistry, as there was a good level of chemistry within my degree, and so came upon the career avenue of regulatory affairs for chemical manufacturers where I began my post-graduation career. I massively enjoyed the scientific aspects, both biology and chemistry, but then also coupled with the legal and interpretative challenges of dealing with legislation and applying it in context, so have continued since to move upwards in terms of breadth and depth of regulatory roles.

What are you doing now?Eleanor Fulford

I have just accepted an offer to relocate from Yorkshire to Essex to work for chemical manufacturer Synthomer, to further my work in the regulatory field, and advise on emerging regulations that are relevant to their business.

What was it about Northumbria that made you decide to study here?

I enjoyed the feel Northumbria had in terms of being a modern and exciting campus, with excellent teaching and a really great balance of learning and social aspects. I also really enjoyed the practical nature of studying Applied Biology rather than simply Biology anywhere else, as my learning style leans much more towards seeing how things work in context and in an applied setting.

What was it like studying at Northumbria?

I met some of the most engaging and amazing people at Northumbria - I was always encouraged to stretch my thinking beyond what was just being taught in the lecture halls, and felt there was a really good opportunity for all learning and teaching styles to be showcased. Often the modules had a number of different teaching and learning 'types' so that if you found it hard working independently then there was usually some group/ team aspect to a portion of the module, and vice versa if you're the sort of person who would usually just work on your own, it gave you the opportunity to work with others and hear the thoughts from your peers in an environment where you were working together towards a joint goal. What I really enjoyed was that where I felt that I was struggling with any particular area, everyone was always very approachable, and were available to discuss any issues without me feeling like I was failing. I took on the role of Class Rep in my second year, and then Faculty Rep for Life Sciences in my third year through which I found that this openess to feedback and change was encouraged not only on a personal level, but on a School and University-wide level which I felt was a massive positive for Northumbria.

How connected was your course with industry?

I personally did not have a placement, although I believe a number of peers took the option to do a 'sandwich' course which meant they could do a year in industry. I was always encouraged though to not just come to the lectures in term time, but also to look for ways to engage with the wider scientific community. I ended up going to a number of regular lectures and seminars outside of the taught schedule and this helped further my understanding in some areas, as well as also fuel interest in others that weren't directly related to my course itself. I actually ended up volunteering with an Ecology group local to me once I graduated from Northumbria, alongside my career path, which is something that came directly from gathering an interest in one of these external lectures.

What was the best thing about your course?

The support from my tutors I can hand on heart say was second to none. I was extremely fortunate to have the amazing Rinke Vinkenoog as my final project mentor who, among many others, provided an exceptional level of support and pressed me to do the best I could in all aspects of University life. I carry with me a lot of the amazing attitudes from the individuals at Northumbria and always try and apply them in my daily work and life, which I believe has very much helped in achieving all I have since then.

How did studying at Northumbria help you achieve your career goals/ give your career an edge?

There was such a variety at Northumbria on my course in terms of projects, people, topics and teaching and learning styles that meant a lot in my career, I am able to interact with most areas of the business in a very efficient and understanding way being able to connect on the more scientific and R&D focused front, but then also understanding the ethical implications of choices we make to interpreting the legislative aspects of my current role and being able to present these back to the main business.

Which skills/knowledge did you learn on your course that you use most now throughout your career?

I would say mainly the interpersonal skills, and the ability to project manage efficiently - something which especially in a scientific role that isn't lab-based is invaluable. To be able to be manage myself, my time, my resources is key to my day-to-day work while keeping an idea of the bigger picture, especially in work that is looking at keeping the business proactive, and researching up and coming topics before they hit. On a non-career based note though, having the opportunity to take British Sign Language as an optional module has led to some amazing interactions since graduating.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Northumbria University?

I enjoyed meeting lifelong friends, both teachers, fellow students, society members. I have kept in touch with a number of people and really feel that being able to foster such relationships throughout my time at Northumbria was such a positive for me.

What advice would you give somebody who is considering studying at Northumbria?

Really get involved with both academic and non-academic options. Use your strengths and interests too in this - if you've always enjoyed debate/ politics outside of your chosen field why not step up as Course Rep/ Faculty Rep and really help engage other students? If you're more social and you've got a particular interest, why not join a society or set one up! It's such an amazing way to enrich your life outside of the lecture halls and gain new skills to compliment your academic work. Also, really get to know the city of Newcastle - it is such a wonderful place with so many beautiful nooks and crannies, so make the most of it while you're there! For me, it actually kick-started a hobby in portrait photography, something I take so much pleasure in now! Always visit the Hancock Museum!

How would you describe your time at Northumbria in three words?

Dynamic, lifechanging and fun.

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