Consultant: Two Circles
Katie Ferguson studied Sports Science with Management and graduated with a first-class degree in 2011. Katie shares her experience of working as a Consultant at Two Circles as well as giving some time back to Loughborough through the Collaborative Project at Loughborough University London.
I’ve always loved sport and there was no better place for it! I chose to study it with Management rather than straight Sports Science because, to be quite honest, although sport was a huge part of my life, I wasn’t sure if I 100% wanted to work in the industry or what the options would be when I graduated, and thought that having a broader business/management element would be more useful in later life.
How has gaining a First Class degree from Loughborough University helped you to progress in your career?
It’s an incredibly renowned university and has only been getting better over the past few years in terms of ratings and rankings. And especially in this discipline – it’s an automatic nod to the quality of the course and ability it takes to gain a place and obtain a degree. We have a very healthy Loughborough contingent at Two Circles, with leadership openly indicating that they recognise and love that it breeds good academics (who have a tendency to love sport!)
Would there be one piece of advice that you would give to current or prospective students looking to study a similar course?
I think the ancient stigma around courses like Sports Science being “soft” is gradually disappearing – and the avenues it opens up are getting wider and wider. The world of sport in general continues to flourish, meaning there are more and more career opportunities within it, and parents & teachers need to understand that it isn’t a narrow avenue that only leads to PE teaching. If you enjoy the subject matter, you’ll put the effort in and come out with something rewarding your efforts – and don’t think that a sports degree means you can’t apply for a wide range of different careers after graduation.
Did you take part in any extra-curricular activities during your studies? If so, what impact did these have on your experience?
I played netball the whole way through my degree and was on the committee for my second and third years, ending up as Vice-Chair, plus dabbled a bit in trampolining. Sports teams are brilliant for creating groups of friends who are on the same wavelength as you and Loughborough has it at all levels, from the university teams to IMS, and I even played tennis for the town tennis club, so don’t think you are limited just to the affiliated sports teams. I also wrote for Label; I wanted to give something back and getting to write about sport and know what was going on across campus was a perfect opportunity! Make the most of what it offers – you will struggle to find so many activities (and not just sports) that are so accessible in one location once you have left university.
I’ve been at Two Circles for about a year and a half – we’re a sports marketing agency/consultancy who put data at the heart of everything we do, allowing sports clubs, organisations and bodies to better understand their customers and use that to improve the customer experience, brand and commercial value. It’s a vibrant, young, growing agency, where everyone is united by a real love for sports, data and creativity.
I joined Accenture in the April after graduating, and spent three and a half years in consulting, which I rotated through pharmaceutical and retail banking clients, with a focus around multichannel customer marketing and change management, particularly in the digital space. However, after a (short!) while, I realised that I really did want to be working in sport on a day to day basis and was starting to explore my options – and then a recruiter got in contact via LinkedIn simply to ask if I would have any interest in working in sport and put me in contact with Two Circles. My time at Accenture was invaluable, it taught me some of the core basics around consulting and client management - and the opportunity at Two Circles allowed me to build on what I had learnt and transfer it into a different industry.
It’s a real mixed bag, both from client mix to day to day roles – it could be helping a client pull together an integrated marketing plan to help them sell out their venue next summer, understanding customer behaviour and demographics, commercial and digital engagement strategy design through to supporting clients with the development of their sponsorship packages or building email marketing campaigns. And this can be in football, cricket, rugby, tennis…I’m not limited by sport! We put data at the heart of what we do, so there is a heavy emphasis on organising, analysing, interpreting and driving action from what the data is telling us.
I mean, I basically get to spend 99.9% of my time thinking and talking about sport, which means it blurs the lines between work and play! Articles and information I would read in my spare time anyway are now a vital part of my role, water cooler chats are genuinely interesting and the people I work with are people I can automatically bond and build relationships with as everyone has a common passion. You get to work with exceptional clients who are household names and really see where your advice and guidance has made a difference. Oh, and having meetings in some fairly spectacular offices and stadiums!
How have you found working with the Loughborough University London campus and the students there for the Collaborative Project?
It has been a great experience which has allowed the students to be really creative with some common problems that we have with clients. The mix of backgrounds, subjects and experiences means we had ideas inspired by global issues and no two solutions were the same. From my perspective, it was a strange experience working with students as a professional – because my own experience still seemed so fresh! We’ve found from our side it has really allowed our employees to develop their own presentation and delivery skills, particularly when it comes to teaching others about our subject matter, which translates back to successful client advisory skills.
I’d love to – it’s great to give back to a place that gave so much to me, and I enjoy keeping ties with the university. It’s strange how the branding and interiors feel so recognisable, despite being in a totally different place to the Loughborough campus! As mentioned, Loughborough holds some strong personal connections for a lot of people at Two Circles, so I envisage it staying close for a while.