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Graduate stories: Ruth Smith

Ruth graduated from Geography BA(Hons) in 2018. Read about her time studying here and how her career is progressing.

Why I chose the University of Brighton and this course

I love Brighton as a city, the sea, the vibrancy and all the good things happening there so it was an obvious choice! Combined with this, I noticed that the course had the choice to opt in and out of a range of topics to adapt the course to my preferences and interests! I chose to go down the more social geography route rather than environmental but loved the choice of both.

My experience of the course, placement and studying here

I loved studying at University of Brighton because it was a unique range of topics and areas that I got to learn about, from Geographies of Gender and Sexuality, all the way to Air Quality and the most ‘technical’ areas too. The course had amazing people and peers, who I remain friends with today, and we got to know each other best through the field trips.

The highlights of my course

For me, a highlight was volunteering at the Real Junk Food Project in Brighton, as part of a work module, which was an amazing experience, we got to tackle food waste issues (one of the worst cities in the UK for Food waste levels) through transforming leftover food from restaurants, cafes, shops (that was still in packet etc, fully fresh), cooking it into delicious meals and serving back to the community as a ‘pay as you feel’ method, with all money to charity. I enjoyed this because I’m a passionate foodie, and learnt SO much about the serious food waste problem right now on all our doorsteps. You can see more about it Home – The Real Junk Food Project Brighton (

My career so far

I’m a Senior recruitment consultant at Acre, we are a recruitment organisation focused only on Sustainability and ESG. I partner with companies looking to hire sustainability professionals, and candidates In this space, matching them up to eachother and helping people find the right role. Before this, I worked in a different recruitment company called Spencer Ogden, placing Renewable Energy professionals in Europe, which was also a great learning opportunity.

I chose this line of work because I get to talk to people every day about amazing work to save our planet! Recruitment is also a career where you can progress quickly, earn good money, and you are responsible for your own performance which I love.

What I most enjoy about my job

I love the rewarding feeling when I find someone their dream job! You build genuine connections with people and get to understand their motivations and goals, so when you find the role that matches this and they get the role it is a great feeling. It also helps that the people I place into roles are doing amazing and impactful work to transform supply chains and make the world a better place for now and future generations, so I know good things are coming through them. I’d really recommend this as a career if you are driven, enjoy working with humans, and like getting to know people.

The thing I’m most proud of in my career

I’ve worked with a range of companies from Chanel to Starbucks, to Fairtrade and successfully found the right people to join these companies to turn around their ESG initiatives. One proud example I have is when I worked with Fairtrade Foundation and hired someone to help them make more partnerships, drive forward their certifications, and improve living quality for thousands of workers in the raw materials and agricultural supply chains, of products we all know and love like coffee, cocoa, and tea.

The skills and experience I gained from the course help in my job

I understand a lot of the technical work that the people I recruit do, as they work In sustainability, which is so intrinsically linked with the geography topics I learnt. This helps me understand their day to day responsibilities, what they are doing, and ultimately helps me understand them better as humans, aiding me to find them the right role!

My advice if you are thinking of studying Geography BA(Hons)

Go for it! Get to know what you will be studying, talk with your friends, explore the campus and what life would be like In Brighton. Do what feels right for you, but I highly recommend this course and also Brighton as a city to live in, for young people.

I also highly recommend pushing yourself out of your comfort zone! Don’t panic if you feel the topic choices are difficult, embrace the challenge, and learn as much as you can. It’s topics like Environmental Impact Assessment and Air Quality that I remember being nervous about when I started, but on reflection, I did better in these and actually enjoyed learning something so different.

My experience of teaching and support staff

There is a great range of teaching styles in this course, and I don’t forget how helpful everyone was throughout the course. Names that stand out are Paul Gilchrist, Jason Lim, and Rebecca Elmhirst as they were engaging, took the time to listen, and made the studies so interesting but memorable still, 5 years on.

My plans for the future

I will continue in recruitment and definitely stay in sustainability and ESG as it’s a fast moving sector and so much is happening right now — its very exciting!

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