Graduate Profile: 10 years on

Sam Jackson graduated from Liverpool in 2002 with a BA in German, and is currently working as a senior consultant at the leading public relations firm Burson-Marstelle in Geneva. He recently got in touch with Languages at Liverpool to explain how his degree has helped to shape his career over the past decade. As Sam says, a degree in German was ‘much more than just a language’.


Sam Jackson in Geneva

Despite the fact that the German department is no longer in my immediate past, I think it has had a clear influence on where I am and what I do these days.

After completing my degree, I began my career with a position that used my German language skills, working for a research company in Germany. A couple of years later I was running a team which provided support to a number of countries in six languages. When I left this job it was almost the last contact I would have with anything relevant to my degree title, but a German degree equipped me with much more than just an ability to speak a foreign language.

Though my title of my degree was German, it covered a huge variety of topics, from contemporary diplomacy to writing in the Vormärz, and demanded we have a command of the subjects that was both broad and deep. Studying in this way made serious demands on our analytical and critical thinking skills, and instilled in me a confidence to take on new challenges by understanding both broad context and specific detail.  I still use the skills I developed at Liverpool to do this in my career today.

These days my family and I are based in Geneva, which presents only the occasional opportunity to speak German, but offers myriad opportunities to butcher the French language.  I work as a senior consultant at the global public relations firm Burson-Marsteller, and our clients include many multinational corporations and international organisations of the type you find in Geneva, and all over Switzerland.  My area of expertise is in understanding what they do, and helping them to translate this into messages and communications that resonate with their audiences.

Ten years down the line, the range and diversity of challenges I faced in my degree, whether it was reading E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Der Sandmann, a book I love, or getting into the detail of German reunification, helped me to develop many of the skills I use every day to serve my clients.  My time in the German section at Liverpool remains an important and relevant foundation of where I am today.