Leila Siddiqi

Sociology and Communication, Media and Culture, 2008

Leila Siddiqi

The Oxford Brookes modular programme allowed me to combine Sociology with Communication, Media and Culture which met my interest in learning about race, gender and ethnicity and how it links to popular culture and the media

As a Marketing Manager at the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) I manage and deliver strategic programmes across member advertising agencies and third party organisations that aim to promote, inspire, serve and anticipate the needs of the advertising industry. What I love most about my job is the diverse portfolio of projects I work on, from managing apprenticeship and diversity schemes to promoting the wider creative industries where I work with other sectors including fashion, music, film and TV. I have been in the marketing communication industry for over 4 years now; starting out at the Advertising Association and then completing a fixed term at Bell Pottinger Business and Brand – in my spare time I also blog for various fashion and lifestyle magazines.

The Oxford Brookes modular programme allowed me to combine Sociology with Communication, Media and Culture which met my interest in learning about race, gender and ethnicity and how it links to popular culture and the media. The impressive infrastructure and campus life was a huge draw too. It became apparent quite early that Brookes believes in innovation and in investing in its students and its staff.

My course taught me about relationships and social institutions and the ways in which they shape people’s lives. I started becoming more interested in race and gender and that has now led me to head up the IPA’s diversity programme. I particularly liked the practical aspect of the course and the emphasis on presentation skills and teamwork whilst I also learnt to think critically about people’s behavior through developing research and analytical skills. My interest in culture and creativity grew and I was inspired to start building a portfolio of my work from my penultimate year. I started applying for internships and freelance writing assignments before I started my final year and that’s what got my job applications noticed when I graduated. Brookes inculcated in me an open minded, pro-active and can do attitude alongside the more technical skills, which is what employers are looking for in young talent.

I was a Student Ambassador in my final year and I loved every minute of it. I got to meet so many bright young people from different degree courses some of whom are good friends even today. One of the reasons I chose Brookes was because I enjoyed the tour so much when I came in to attend an open day. It’s as much fun being at the other end of it and showing students and their families around the campus and the city. It’s a great feeling knowing you belong to and contribute to such a wonderful community.

It was my first time away from home and I couldn’t have asked for a better city than Oxford - there’s so much history and beauty that it’s almost mesmerising. The fact that Oxford is small enough so that you can cycle around easily and not feel intimidated, yet big enough so that there’s lots going on makes it an ideal place to live and study. The city centre is bustling on the weekends and there are plenty of lovely towns nearby to visit for a day out; including Blenheim Palace in Woodstock and the Cotswolds. It’s as pretty as a postcard, with so much to see so it was always good fun showing family and friends around the city when they came to visit. It’s only an hour and a bit away from London which is very convenient too.

Oxford is the best city in the world for a young person to develop themselves in, you will never forget this period of your life so make the most of it! There is fantastic diversity on campus so no matter where in the world you are from you will feel comfortable. I was born in Dubai and grew up in Karachi, Pakistan; so the advice I’d give students is to take inspiration from the city’s stunning architecture, inclusive culture and brilliant people to explore yourselves and to enjoy this freedom with responsibility.