Nicola Harris

Nicola Harris, BA(Hons) Arab Studies

Nicola lives in Dubai where she works for a top tier European insurance company.

The course was relatively unusual, and therefore not available at many universities. Exeter stood out with the course content and structure; supported by the reputation of the individual lecturers, along with the overall standing of the university itself.

I preferred the idea of a campus university, with the benefits of a central academic hub and infrastructure to support my studies. Being medium sized, the campus seemed large enough to provide a wide mix of students, but small enough not to feel lost in a mass of people.

The West Country is a lovely part of Britain, and the mild weather seem more sympathetic to someone who prefers warmer climes!

The residences are a great way of entering student life. The town itself is very pleasant and welcoming to live in in later years.

I loved the student bars and club at weekends, and the fact that a number of bands played there. I also attended some good balls!

The size of my lectures and seminars allowed everyone to get involved and have a say.

I went to Durham University to study part time for a MA in Middle East Politics. Two years later I moved to London to start a graduate training scheme at an international insurance broking firm.

20 years later, I am an underwriter with a top tier European insurance company, specialising in oil & gas.

My day ranges from: meeting with brokers, cedants or clients to discuss their risk needs and concerns; growing through underwriting information to assess and judge appetite for writing an operational downstream or upstream risk; reviewing financial plans for current or future budget years.

Study a subject that you enjoy; develop an appreciation that it's about the academic exercise of understanding, analysing, debating and discussing your chosen subject matter. It's not about regurgitating facts and figures in an essay. Realise that the skills of analysis, assessment and putting forward a cogent argument are transferable into the commercial world.

Carrying on enjoying life and work, and continue to gain mental stimulation from it all.