Hayley Hewett, Student Co-creator, interviews John Shaw, Head of Innovation and R&D at Direct Line Group
Name: John Shaw
Company: Direct Line Group
Role: Head of Innovation and R&D
What qualities do you look for in a graduate?
1. A curiosity to know how things work and how things can be done better
2. Adaptability so that they can deal with any situation thrown their way and change their working style depending on who they are working with
3. A willingness to get involved
Why did you decide to follow your career path?
I wanted to study Marketing at University, as I wrongly believed it was all to do with advertising and making merchandise and I loved that kind of thing. At one point I was making 90% of the posters and t-shirts for societies at my University!
My first placement was in R&D where I realised that it was possible to design something that will change people’s lives. Innovation leads to incremental and disruptive change. I love disrupting markets with huge changes and shifts, it’s exciting. Working in innovation means you are always in the know; something, which I might be looking into now, will only be implemented in 4-5 years time.
Did you go to University?
Nottingham and studied Art History with English
One piece of advice you would give to a new university student?
I would say to get involved in societies as they offer a rare opportunity to explore different roles in a safe environment. If they are looking to work in a corporate company, regardless of their degree, they should get some coding experience. A basic knowledge of coding will make you invaluable in the future. I got ahead by teaching myself how to use PowerPoint and Excel, these skills meant I could help management out and that opened many doors for me.
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