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Gemma Malley (BA Philosophy 1992)


I started out as a financial journalist, moonlighting for The Face and NME in my free time. Later I moved into communications, heading up PR and stakeholder engagement for organisations including CIMA and Ofsted. I'd always had a burning ambition to write more than just articles and whilst working on my MBA at Henley, I started writing my first novel, a romantic comedy (rom com), which, to my surprise and delight, was published by Random House. I wrote romcoms for a few years but an idea was bubbling up inside me, partly from my days studying philosophy; that idea became The Declaration which was translated into 23 languages and is now on the curriculum at a number of schools.

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

I loved the look of the campus, and the philosophy degree was just what I was looking for.

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

Back then the union was much more spartan than it is now, and the town was utterly different (pre the tech boom). But it meant you had to make your own entertainment. I joined a band, edited Spark* and did things I'd never probably had done if there had been more things on tap.

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

Learn to plan your time so you can take advantage of everything on offer but still have time for your studies. And make the most of your tutors/lectures. I'd love to redo my degree and have those discussions all over again.

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

Right now I'm heading up communications for an influential body in HE. I missed the buzz of work. But I'm also working on my next novel, a psychological thriller...

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

Get out there and make it happen. If you want to write, write. If you want to be a journalist, get involved in Spark* and try to get all the work experience you can. Volunteer. Listen and learn. And always be open to opportunities.

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

Alas there was no careers centre in my day, not one I knew of anyway. But Reading is a great name to have on your CV.

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

See previous question on working in this sector

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

There's no one particular memory. But Reading was the place where I grew up, figured out who I was and what I wanted to do. Pretty important stuff.


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