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Alumnus of the month – July 2013

Simon Alston
BA (Hons) Tourism Management, 1998

Robert Humphreys

Since graduating from LSBU, Simon Alston’s career has taken him from working as a graduate with the PricewaterhouseCoopers Graduate Scheme to meeting The Queen at the official opening of the BBC’s New Broadcasting House in central London, a rebuilding project where he was the Programme Manager.

Simon began working for the BBC in December 2011 as the W1 Programme Delivery Manager. On June 7th 2013, the new building was formally opened by HM the Queen which marked the end of the migration which has brought together all the BBC’s News, Radio and Television operations for the first time in its history.

Simon spoke to us about the scale and complexity of the move: “This was the largest capital project the BBC had ever undertaken and involved moving over 5,500 staff and thousands of hours of live programming to a new cutting edge broadcast facility in central London. These were high-profile television and radio programmes – the One, Six and Ten O’clock News bulletins, “The Marr Show”, “Newsnight”, “The Today Programme”, “World at One” and all 26 language channels from BBC World Service. I was attracted to this role as it was immediately apparent that this was a once-in-a-career opportunity to be involved in a project of such magnitude, complexity and historical relevance.”

Given the intense political and press scrutiny faced by the Corporation, the project was not without its difficulties: “In late 2012, several scandals hit the BBC and this occurred during one of the most intense periods of migration activity.” Fortunately, this did not impact the progress of the W1 project which also had to navigate its way around huge editorial commitments such as the Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics during 2012.

The knowledge and experience gained from his studies at LSBU helped kick-start Simon’s career as he secured his first job at PricewaterhouseCoopers upon graduation: “LSBU was attractive to me due to the variety offered in the Tourism Management course and the fact it was a 4 year sandwich course, which gave me the opportunity of working in industry for a year when I took a role with British Airways as a Business Analyst.” As well as making the most of the opportunities that living in London can offer a student, Simon also took part in the university’s strong sporting culture: “I have great memories from playing 1st XI football for LBSU at the playing fields at Turney Road in Dulwich and of many a late night in the bar with all the other sports teams.”

With the completion of the W1 relocation project, Simon is currently planning the next stage of his career within the broadcasting and media industry. He’s offered three pieces of advice to students and recent graduates to stay ahead of the competition in the jobs market: “Firstly, you try to get a wide variety of experience of the working world before you finish your course. It will help you stand out from other graduates in the market place. Secondly, there is never any substitute for hard work. Work hard and work smartly and you will get your rewards. Thirdly, always focus on learning and personal improvement - personal and professional development is a lifetime journey and must never stop.”