‘The connections that I made on my year in industry led to other career opportunities’

Thomas Smithers

Tom Smithers
Computer Science with a Year in Industry

Why did you choose Kent?

The school of computing at Kent was ranked well against other universities in the UK. On visiting the campus, the welcoming nature of the staff and students made it my top choice.

What attracted you to the course?

The year in industry was a big selling point. The support provided by the university on finding a placement, applications and interview techniques was above anything I had seen at other universities.

Did you do a year in industry? If so where and how useful was it in getting a graduate job?

Yes, the experience I gained during my year in industry made me stand out from the crowd when applying for graduate positions. The connections that I made on my year in industry also led to other career opportunities further down the line.

How did your degree course lay the foundations for your chosen career path?

It gave me the technical and professional skills to be successful in the work place. I gained skills not just in software development but also consulting, project management and computing law that would be instrumental to my future roles.

Could you describe your career path since leaving Kent?

On graduating from, the University of Kent I completed a graduate position at IBM. I was then offered a role by contacts I made on my year in industry to work as a Venue Technology Manager for the European Games in Baku where I relocated to for 18 months. This lead to other Technology Manager positions at the Rugby World Cup and then football stadiums in the UK. 3 years after graduating I became an IT Program Manager at Amazon and had the opportunity to work on the rollout of new technologies within their fulfilment network as well as new site expansions globally. After nearly 4 years in the company I now lead the IT deployment for all new expansions across Europe and Middle east. The team I lead has been responsible for the addition of over 200 new Amazon locations in the past year.

Could you describe a typical day in your current role?

I lead a large team of IT Program Managers, assisting them with project risks, issues and escalations. I work with the EU leaders from the different functional areas such as construction, procurement, legal, real estate and finance on the strategic execution plans for the coming months and the path to unblock any key business challenges. I work with the operations team on gaining efficiencies with the use of cutting edge technology solutions.

What are your future plans/aspirations?

I enjoy travelling and working with different cultures so I will continue to work for large global organisations that give me the opportunities to visit different countries. I plan to expand my leadership capabilities and increase the scope of my roles.

Do you have any other happy memories of Kent that you would like to share with us?

Being able to present my groups final year project to the other members of the school of computing. IT was great to be able to share the result of months of work with your peers and lecturers.

Finally, what advice would you give to someone thinking of coming to Kent?

Be sure to visit, the open day that I attended was by far the best of any university that I applied for. I also would recommend joining some societies to get the full Kent experience.