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David Pullinger (BA Politics & Economics 1970)


I built a career in HR, first in specialist roles, then as a generalist. This meant I knew about the technical aspects of such as remuneration and recruitment before putting them together. I believe a generalist should complement their HR interest with a passion for the business. I worked in several industries - engineering, cars; shipping; retail; insurance. I was an HR Director for 10 years, then left to become an interim manager, then a consultant. I now work as a Careers Adviser and coach, I have an MA in Coaching and I am researching the future of work.

Why did you choose to study at the University of Reading?

I wanted a course that spanned politics and economics; I also liked the campus environment.

What was the best bit about living and studying in Reading?

Freedom; friends; access to London; the campus.

What top tips would you give to students who are beginning their studies?

Try to study subjects in which you can develop real interest, beyond the syllabus, plus have an eye on the market value of your choice.

What are you up to now? How did you get there?

I combine self employment as a business coach with working at Imperial College part time as a careers adviser, and doing research into our working future; I wanted to take the pressure off being full time self employed so Imperial works well and allows me to focus on things I really enjoy.

What would be your top tips for students interested in working in this sector?

To work in HR, be as interested in business as you are in the techniques of HR, and always be thinking of the value to the business; don't be driven by fads unless you can demonstrate their value to a skeptical line manager

How has the University of Reading and the Careers Centre helped in your chosen career path?

I had sponsorship at Reading from TI Group so I had a job to return to. If you have the opportunity for any work experience, always take it

What are your top tips for students graduating this year? What should they be doing to secure the job they want?

Research the market; think globally; answer the question: 'If there are 50 other applicants, why should the company select me?' - and be ready with a good answer. Think like a Marketing Manager and know the BENEFITS an employer will get by selecting you; practice CV writing, cover letters and interviews

Why did you decide to give to the University of Reading?

There is no more vital time for a young person than the experience of studying at University and embarking on a career, so it is good to help

What does the University mean to you and what is your favourite memory?

I wanted to widen my experience and take part in events and societies I had not encountered before - all politics clubs; jazz; sociology; this gave me an enduring love of music. Reading also challenged me to be self-sufficient as I had come from a strict school environment; I needed to be self-motivated to learn. I enjoyed my course and my interest in politics has stayed with me. Friends, some of whom I still meet. My favourite memory is Jantaculum (sadly no longer done) – an elegant celebration of Christmas with performance, music and lots of scrumpy!



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