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3rd August 2020

We caught up with Newcastle Colleges Course Leader in Accounting & Group Honours Programme Lead, Richard Simpson, to chat about his experiences before joining the College and his advice for anyone interested in joining the Honours Programme.

Q: Tell us about your background…

A: After full-time education, I originally wanted to go into agricultural economics but ended up working for JCB, initially in the UK and then for a number of years overseas running their regional offices in Johannesburg, central and eastern Europe and, latterly JCB Asia Pacific in Singapore and Australia.

Q: How did you get into education?

A: I really enjoyed my time at JCB but, after 16 years, I decided I wanted a career change and teaching was the only profession I had seriously considered after education. I did my PGCE working in secondary schools and came to Newcastle College immediately after that which was in 2005.

Q: What do you love most about the work that you do?

A: I really enjoy seeing young people’s sense of self-belief develop and watching them progress to do things they might never have considered possible for them. That could be building really successful careers for themselves in the world of finance or studying at the UK’s best universities like Oxford and Cambridge.

Q: What challenges have you faced in your career and how have you overcome them?

A: Workload can be hard in any profession but I think you overcome this by being very organised. The other main challenge is coping with times when things aren’t going well which will inevitably happen at some point. Sometimes this happens because of things beyond your control but often there are things you can do about it by reflecting on your approach and learning from your errors so that you always improve and you approach similar situations differently next time.

Q: If you could interview anyone in the world, who would it be and why?

A: Leo Tolstoy. Not only was he a great author of fiction but an intriguing man with some fascinating views on social equity, God, the church, art and truth. The more I read about him the more intriguing he becomes.

Q: What advice would you give to someone wanting to join the Honours Programme?

A: Under normal circumstances I would say work really hard at your GCSEs because the most selective universities do look closely at these as well as your A-Level results. The other key piece of advice would be to start developing your interests beyond what you do in the classroom through wider reading, MOOCs, podcasts, etc, as your ability to demonstrate this level of interest and self-motivation is essential for successful applications to the best universities.

Q: Which universities have previous Honours Programme students gone on to study at?

A: Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, Warwick, King’s College, Royal Veterinary College, etc, etc. Essentially all the 24 Russell Group universities and equivalents like Lancaster.

Q: What do you enjoy most about working at the College?

A: The people, staff and students. Both come from a very diverse range of backgrounds and this diversity creates a very rich and stimulating cultural environment to work in.

If you would like to find out more about NSCG's two year Honours Programme, visit: https://nscg.ac.uk/about-us/honours-programme.

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