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The business world

"Throughout school I decided to study the subjects I enjoyed the most, taking geography, history, law and maths for A Level. I really enjoyed geography at this level and this prompted my application for a BA in Geography at the University of Durham".

Katherine Holdstock
Audit Associate, Insurance Department, EY

I loved my  degree and studied a good mixture of physical and human modules, including furthering my  knowledge of hazards and risks, and also exploring new topics such as health geographies. After university I went to work at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida as part of their cultural representative programme. This was an amazing experience, where I got to live and work with people from across the world. Once I returned home I decided to apply for graduate schemes and had been attracted to accounting and finance positions, which is what led me to EY, previously known as Ernst & Young.

What does your role entail?

As an auditor I work on statutory audits, a requirement of most UK companies. This
involves being out at the client’s offices or factory, requesting information and gaining
an understanding of the business and their financial statements, preparing a report as
to whether the business’s accounts show a ‘true and fair’ view of their financial position.
I’m in the insurance department which is risk-based. A geographer is ideally suited to
work in this department as their knowledge of processes and contexts allow a unique insight.
My role offers me the opportunity to study the ICAS (Institute of Chartered Accountants of
Scotland) qualification which means that after I complete it I will gain a lot of options both in
and out of my current firm.

Advice to someone thinking of taking geography further

Many people think that to work in business and finance you need to have a related degree. This is a myth. Most companies will employ people from a whole range of backgrounds and then train them up into a particular role. It’s the soft skills that companies are looking for, and that’s why geography can give you the edge. Within the subject, especially at university, you will develop team working skills, learn how to interview, use statistics and be able to write and
report coherently and concisely.

Other geographers working in this sector include:

  • Chairman, Dotted Eyes Ltd
  • Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Manager, Camelot
  • National Accounts Manager, Danone
  • Resource Manager, Personal Finance Education Group
  • Sales Manager, Jutexpo Ltd.
  • Senior Associate, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)
  • Strategic Relations Manager, Shell International


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