Joseph Gillam: “What a place to get to know different people from contrasting backgrounds”
As part of our ongoing Brighton Effect campaign, we caught up with Joseph Gillam, a graduate of the University of Brighton from 2012 in Humanities and Critical Studies, BA (Hons). Since leaving university, Joseph has started a business with fellow alumni Tomal Syeda-Aguirre, whose story we shared last week. Here, Joseph shares just how much his course pushed him to be a better communicator, business leader and friend.
“University provided me with exposure to people and topics which I had never experienced before, coming from a small-ish community in South London. Brighton itself was key within that. What a place to get to know different people from contrasting backgrounds and begin building relationships with them. Our halls themselves were incredibly diverse and my ability to forge lasting relationships really started whilst at the university. Part of my role is to build relationships, provide strong and clear communications to people from all walks of life and professionals from all different sectors.
“When I look back at my time in Brighton, the university and life there really started forging that. On top of that, the non-negotiable deadlines, the pressure to organise myself regarding study time, seminars and social events really gave me the kick up the bum I needed at the time to become the man and professional I am now. One thing my course did really well was enforce public speaking on us every 3-4 weeks within our seminar. Of course, sometimes our presentations were not particularly good, but I understand now it was the beginning of making us better communicators, storytellers and public speakers. This is something I really benefit from now as part of my role as owner and account manager with my team and clients alike is standing up and speaking about relatively complex processes.”
Joseph recalls the diversity he experienced at university and how it opened his eyes to different backgrounds and insights: “I remember being in our kitchen with such a diverse and interesting group of people that I could feel the personal growth almost immediately. We would share food, memories, pre-drinks of course, as well as info on each of our courses. We had photographers, fashion students, historians, business students, English literature and product designers under one roof for near on 12 months and it was a great place to be and to learn.”
In 2020, Joseph started a business with his friend and coursemate Tomal. “The trust we had due to meeting at University was a solid foundation to build from. We now employ eight people and turnover over £2 million. I suppose it is something to be proud of, but the proudest I ever am is when I look at my two children and how they are developing, when they are kind and focused on trying their best day-to-day.”
It isn’t difficult to see how Joseph has achieved his goals considering the advice he gave us for current students: “Go to your seminars and lectures. Enjoy your time there and make the most of it. Make friendships that last. Push your limits. Expose yourself to new things. Meet your deadlines. Look at the skills you are learning in a holistic, big picture way. Double down on what skills you do have and focus on what employment suits that, prior to graduating. Play sports or join clubs. Don’t drink too much. Treat your studies like you will need to treat your employment. Get a part-time job. Find out what you are passionate about. Look after your mental and physical health. Use your resources around you and from the university to help. Don’t use your overdraft, begin a responsible financial journey.”
Words to live by!