Careers Inspiration Hub

This page is designed to allow you to browse through some careers of alumni and friends of St John’s College, Oxford, to see the huge range of opportunities they have enjoyed since their degrees.

You will notice that in a few cases people are regularly using the academic skills from their degree. However, in many more cases people are using transferable skills such as time-keeping and project management that they learnt during their degrees. Lots of people also leant skills at university which came from outside of their degree, for example by joining sports teams or student societies, which have influenced and assisted in their future careers.

Don’t worry if you don’t know what you want your career to look like yet – many people here will tell you their eventual career path was a bit of a surprise to them too! The main thing is to reflect on what you enjoy, and what sort of role you think might appeal to you.

Each of the videos below is no more than 10 minutes, so we suggest that you ‘dip-in’ to this page to watch 1-2 videos at a time when you are looking for some career inspiration! If any role excites you, you can look up more details about it using the links in the ‘Want to know more?’ section at the bottom of this page.

This page will be added to regularly, so do keep checking back for more videos!

Ali Barker: Prison Custody Director

Current Role: Custody Director, Management & Training Corp Mtc Works

Undergraduate Degree: Geography BA, University of Oxford

Brief Biography: After completing her Bachelor of Geography, Ali Barker studied a Masters in Criminology at the University of Cambridge. Building on this interest in Criminology and Justice, Ali Barker went on to work in a variety of justice roles: at the Ministry of Justice as a Private Secretary to the Justice Secretary; in HM Prison Service, where she worked as both a Deputy Governor and Governor; and for the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) as a Staff Officer to Director of Public Sector Prisons.

After further developing her organisational skills as a mum and Guide Leader, Ali Barker returned to the Prison Service as a Governor and HMP Gartree. Since 2019, Ali Barker has been sought after to develop strategies, both in the Border Delivery Group for HMRC, and in her current role as Custody Director for Management & Training Corp Mtc Works, where she is developing a bid for a new HMP in Wellingborough.

Anneliese Dodds MP: Oxford East MP

Current Role: Oxford East MP, Labour and Co-operative Party; Chair of the Labour Party and the Labour Party’s policy review

Undergraduate Degree: Politics, Philosophy and Economics BA, University of Oxford

Brief Biography: Whilst at university, Anneliese Dodds MP served as president of the Oxford University Student Union, protesting in support of LGBT rights, and against tuition fees being introduced to UK universities. After her undergraduate degree, Anneliese Dodds MP completed a Masters degree (Social Policy) at the University of Edinburgh, and then a PhD examining liberalisation in Higher Education in France and the UK at London School of Economics. Anneliese Dodds also completed a postdoctoral fellowship, researching at the Economic and Social Research Council.

Anneliese Dodds MP was elected to office in 2014, as a Member of the European Parliament for South East England. In 2017, Anneliese Dodds MP was elected as the Member of Parliament for Oxford East, and she has continued as the Oxford East MP since then. Anneliese Dodds MP has held the following roles: Shadow Treasury Minister; Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer; Chair of the Labour Party and the Labour Party’s policy review.

Danielle Green: Education & Democracy Specialist

Current role: Co-Founder, Eudaimonde Education; Education and Democracy Networks Lead, Ditchley Foundation; Global Youth Ambassador, Theirworld

Undergraduate Degree: Philosophy and French BA, University of Oxford

Brief Biography: Danielle Greenwas awarded her BA in Philosophy and French with First Class Honours at St John’s College, Oxford in 2019. She then completed an MA in Development Studies at the University of Sussex with Distinction. During her degree, Danielle Green contributed to Access and Outreach Programmes, including at St John’s College. She is the Co-Founder and Non-Executive Director of Eudaimonde, a personal and sustainable development education platform for primary school children, and also a Global Youth Ambassador for Theirworld.  Having previously worked as an Education and Democracy Networks Co-Lead, Danielle Green was recently promoted to Climate and Sustainable Development Networks Lead for the Ditchley Foundation.

Dorota Sakwerda: IT Professional

Current Role: Senior Customer Success Manager, Box

Undergraduate Degree: Modern Languages (French & Spanish) BA, University of Oxford

Brief Biography: After completing her degree in Modern Languages at University of Oxford, Dorota Sakwerda studied a Masters in Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies at King’s College London. Whilst studying, she worked as a freelance translator and interviewer for Ipsos MORI. After graduating, Dorota Sakwerda spent time as a research analyst, and interned and the Embassy of the Republic of Poland.

Following these roles, Dorata Sakwerda specialised in technology customer support, working at Onalytica and Medallia to analyse client relationships, before progressing into management positions. Dorota Sakwerda currently works at Box, which provides a platform for companies to assist with managing content , as a Customer Success Manager.

Gemma Clark: Trainee Solicitor

Current Role: Trainee Solicitor, Wright Hassall LLP

Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor of Laws (LLB), Durham University

Brief Biography: Prior to university, Gemma Clark undertook two placements in law firms, to gain experience and observe life as a solicitor. Having studied her undergraduate degree at Durham University, Gemma Clark was awarded a training contact at the law firm Wright Hassall LLP, who funded her to study the Legal Practice Course (LPC) at The University of Sheffield. Having completed the LPC, Gemma Clark joined Wright Hassall LLP as a trainee solicitor, undertaking a series of ‘seats’ within different sectors of law during her two-year training contract, including: employment law, property law and probate law. This included a challenging period working within employment law during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the introduction of the furlough scheme.

After finishing her training contract, Gemma Clark plans to begin work as a full solicitor. In her spare time, she enjoys baking (especially brownies), scrap-booking and playing sports.

Dr Heather Jeffery: Research Scientist

Current Role: Genomics Application Clinical Bioinformatician, Oxford Nanopore Technologies Ltd

Undergraduate Degree: Biochemistry BSc, with a year in Industry, Imperial College London

Brief Biography: Having studied her undergraduate degree at Imperial College, Dr Jeffery went on to study her PhD at Oxford University. Dr Jeffery’s PhD involved developing a single molecule chromatin accessibility method to investigate DNA replication in yeast. During her PhD, Dr Jeffery also completed a research internship at Singer Instruments, took part in the Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (YES) for Biotechnology, and engaged in schools outreach themed on DNA.

In her current role as Genomics Application Clinical Bioinformatician, Dr Jeffery aims to develop computational approaches to answer biological questions and tackle real world challenges. In her spare time, she enjoys playing the violin, board games, and trying new things.

Howard Kerr: Executive Director/Chief Executive

Most recent role: Executive Director/Chief Executive, BSI

Undergraduate Degree: Geography BA, University of Oxford

Brief Biography: Howard Kerr was read Geography at St John’s College, Oxford.  While at university, he was Captain of the Rugby Club, a member of the Boat Club, and President of the Amalgamated Sports Clubs.  After St John’s he undertook a Master of Business Administration (MBA) at Cranfield University.

After a period at Associated British Ports, Howard Kerr’s early career was spent in business development roles in the fields of shipping, logistics and B2B marketing with Inchcape PLC in the UK, Japan, China and the Middle East. Subsequently he joined SHV Holdings NV, where he held general management positions in the energy division, including Chief Executive of Calor Group Ltd, UK, and Senior Vice-President on the International Management Board of SHV Gas in the Netherlands.

Howard Kerr was appointed to the Board of BSI in November 2008 and assumed the position of Chief Executive in January 2009.  BSI provides technical standards on a wide range of products and services in the UK. Howard Kerr retired as Chief Executive of The British Standards Institution (BSI) at the end of 2020, and is committed to sharing his experience and enthusiasm for business with pupils through outreach programmes.

Lucy Crane: Senior Geologist

Current Role: Senior Geologist, Cornish Lithium Ltd

Undergraduate Degree: Earth Sciences, 4-year MEarthSci, University of Oxford

Brief Biography: Having studied her undergraduate degree at the University of Oxford, Lucy Crane went on to study a Masters in Mining Geology at the University of Exeter. With a passion for sustainable mining, Lucy Crane went on to work as a Geologist and Associate Geologist with Altus Strategies, during which time she travelled in Morocco and Ethiopia in pursuit of suitable locations to mine. Whilst at Altus, Lucy Crane also held an Executive Partner role at Helion Strategies LLP, which connects innovation gaps in the mining research with technical research, and was a Trustee of Oxford Development Abroad, a student-led charity which focusses on sustainable international development projects.

Lucy Crane has campaigned to encourage women to join the mining industry, and was Head of Women In Mining (WIM) for 5 years, during which time she developed internship schemes and scholarships for MSc programmes. She currently works at Cornish Lithium, a company who are exploring lithium-enriched geothermal waters and other battery metals in Cornwall. As an advocate for sustainability in all aspects of life, Lucy Crane founded Retrospecced in 2017, a social enterprise which recycles and refurbishes vintage and designer frames, partnering with Vision Aid Overseas.

Dr Rohan Wijesurendra: Cardiologist

Current Role: Clinical Lecturer in Cardiovascular Medicine and Cardiology Registrar, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; Stipendiary Lecturer in Clinical Medicine, St John’s College, Oxford

Undergraduate Degree: Medicine MB, Cambridge University

Brief Biography: Dr Rohan Wijesurendra is a Clinical Lecturer in Cardiovascular Medicine and Cardiology Registrar at the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Dr Wijesurendra completed his medical training at Cambridge University with several prizes and scholarships including Distinction in Final MB: Pathology and the George Peter Baker prize for the best performance across the University in the written component of the Final MB examinations (also with Distinction). Dr Wijesurendra commenced specialisation in Cardiology in the Oxford Deanery in 2011, and in 2013 pursued a DPhil in Cardiovascular Medicine in Oxford, funded by a competitive British Heart Foundation Clinical Research Training Fellowship. His current post allows him to combine ongoing research in the fields of atrial fibrillation, electrophysiology and cardiac magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy, with completion of his clinical training in Cardiology and Electrophysiology.

In addition to his research and clinical commitments, Dr Wijesurendra jointly coordinates the Special Study Module in Cardiovascular Medicine, undertakes lectures and seminars for the FHS (3rd year medical students) and Graduate Entry Medicine courses, and provides regular bedside teaching for St John’s College clinical students.

Simon Banfield: Structural Engineer

Current Role: Director, Ramboll

Undergraduate Degree: Engineering Science MEng, University of Oxford

Brief Biography: After completing his Masters degree in Engineering Science, Simon Banfield worked as a Senior Structural Engineer at Arup in London, alongside working as a Site Engineer for construction projects at Gatwick Airport (Vinci Construction PLC). Following these roles, Simon Banfield worked as a Senior Structural Engineer at Webb Yates Engineers, a structural and civil engineering design practice who emphasise taking a creative approach to structural design.

While at Webb Yates, Simon Banfield progressed to an Associate Structural Engineer, leading a team of engineers on multiple construction projects, both historic (such as making major alterations of historic town houses, and sensitive conversion of a famous Grade II* listed Art Deco building) and modern, such as building a new 150 room hotel.

After his time at Webb Yates, Simon Banfield moved to work at Ramboll, first as an Associate Structural Engineer, and then as a Director in the Buildings Division. Here, Simon Banfield leads on both structural and multidisciplinary projects, managing a team of engineers and collaborating with a wide variety of experts. 

Dr Tom Chatfield: Author, Educator & Tech Philosopher

Current Role: Author, Educator and Tech Philosopher, Self-employed

Undergraduate Degree: English literature BA, University of Oxford

Brief Biography: After his undergraduate degree, Dr Tom Chatfield studied a DPhil (PhD) at St John’s College, Oxford, in Literature and Philosophy. Dr Tom Chatfield has carved a niche for himself as a self-employed Author, Educator and Tech Philosopher. Dr Chatfield has written eight non-fiction books to date, examining how we can utilise technology better, think more creatively and critically, and combine these two aspects. Dr Chatfield’s books have been published in over 30 languages!

Alongside his non-fiction collection, Dr Chatfield’s first novel, This is Gomorrah, was published worldwide in 2019, receiving: Sunday Times thriller of the month, shortlisted for the CWA Steel Dagger for best thriller of the year; and won France’s 2020 Prix Douglas Kennedy for the year’s best foreign thriller.

Alongside his writing and educating roles, Dr Chatfield also holds the following positions: Advisor on Digital Media and Technology, Agathos Management LLP; Non-Executive Director, Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society Limited; Non-Executive Director, Copyright Licensing Agency; Associate, PERSPECTIVE.

Famous Oxford alumni challenge

Have a look at the interactive image below – this shows 10 alumni of the University of Oxford. Can you guess what each person studied? Have a guess, and then click on the icon above each person to find out. Some of them may surprise you!

Click here to view a full screen version of this interactive image.

Want to know more?

To explore career options that might interest you, there are lots of tool available! We recommend starting by exploring job sectors and occupations on the following websites:

Talking to people who are currently doing a role you are interested in, organising some work experience where you can shadow someone doing this role, or reading first-hand accounts from people working in the area you are interested in can all help you find out more about a particular job!

To find out more about studying a subject at University, you can also talk to St John’s Undergraduates on The Ambassador Platform (TAP) by clicking here!