David Over is a freelance Independent Communications and Strategy Consultant.
I studied geography at the University of Southampton - a mixture of human and physical modules - but I focused on human geography, with minors in psychology and economics.
In 2005 I joined the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) helping organise the RGS-IBG Annual Conference, before I started managing the Society’s new public discussion series, 21st Century Challenges three years later. This project aimed to encourage and support the wider public understanding, and engaging with, key issues facing us this century.
Following this in 2013, I joined a small start-up called ‘Sugru’ as their Community and Partnerships Manager and went on a rollercoaster ride for the next four years as the team grew to over 100 people in four years and broke records, crowdfunding over £3.5 million of investment.
Three years later I joined Penguin Books as the Head of Communications for Penguin Business, launching books with authors including Simon Sinek, Seth Godin, Sam Conniff Allende, Eric Ries, Rachel Botsman and General Stanley McChrystal.
Now I have set up as an Independent Strategy Consultant working with a range of different clients.
Learning to swallow my nerves and talk to anyone! You will get better advice and guidance over a cup of coffee than you can learn from anywhere else. Find a mentor to help you and then pass it on to the next generation when you’re asked.
Besides that, I have learnt more from podcasts, YouTube and books than anywhere else. Look for lessons from a broad range of industries, and don’t limit yourself to the industry you are working in at the time. You can find great ideas anywhere!
I have recently set up as an Independent Consultant, so I no longer have a 'typical week’. This means I’m responsible for everything, but also means I’m free to choose how and where I work and who I work with. I help businesses, start-ups and individuals find, reach and engage new audiences. I can be working with an author one week and helping a business establish a talk series the next.
There is no blueprint, but I have learnt so much from behavioural economics, anthropology and working closely with talented creative people. Learn to embrace first principle thinking, don’t be afraid to challenge conventional ways of doing things, never stop asking questions and stop being afraid of failing because it's how you learn.
I credit my geography degree with helping me in every role I have held in my career to date. I consider it the engine that drives my endless curiosity of the world. It has led me on a lifelong path of learning about the people and processes that form the world we all share.
The freedom to work wherever I choose, the variety of working with, and learning from, a range of different people, and the challenge of doing something different.
Yes I do. As the internet continues to transform the way we all work and connect with each other, it is dissolving some of the physical and cultural boundaries that used to restrict us. I am easily able to work with people right across the UK as well as in countries such as the USA, Australia and Switzerland. I try to travel as often as I can!
The world is always changing, so don’t be afraid to step away from ‘conventional career paths’. Stop looking at your phone for all the answers. Remember that everyone knows something that you don’t and always look for ideas and learn lessons from other people and places.
Because I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do when I was 17 (seriously, who does?!), so I decided to study what I enjoyed the most. Geography will feed your curiosity and make you appreciate the world around you and want to help protect it. It will also teach you a broad range of skills that let you think for yourself and thrive in whatever career you choose.
* This interview was undertaken in 2019 and was correct at the time of publication. Please note that the featured individual may no longer be in role, but the profile has been kept for career pathway and informational purposes.
Job title: Independent Communications and Strategy Consultant
Location: Wherever I lay my laptop!
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