Tuesday, 26 September 2023

September's edition of Our Alumni features Oliver Harris. Ollie now works for Brighton College International, combining his love of travelling and languages. Ollie spoke to us about how his career keeps bringing him back to Brighton College... 

When you were at Brighton College, what did you want to be when you ‘grew-up’?

I distinctly remember saying to one of my teachers I want to be an Air Traffic Controller. My teacher said that if I wanted to do that job, I would have to give up a fair portion of my social life to accommodate an evening work schedule. I replied “I’m willing to do that for the planes” ... I now work in a completely different sector although occasionally board a flight and wonder if I should have pursued my passion for the skies…

Tell us about yourself now you've grown up.

After leaving Brighton College, I spent the Summer after A-levels replanning my life. I had originally applied for Maths at university but decided that doing Maths for four years may corrupt any interest I had in the subject, so I reapplied for Chinese and that was by far one of the best decisions I’ve made. I spent a year living in Taiwan as part of my university course and now run a Chinese podcast with my old Mandarin teacher from BC. We’ve got 4,000 followers so not quite “The Joe Rogan Experience” but growing! At the time of writing, I’m still living with my parents in Hove but will be moving to Kemptown very soon. I’m a keen traveller and I’m lucky that I can continue to do this in my job.

What about your life now would most surprise your Brighton College teachers?

Very little, I think. I’m a horrifically predictable person and my teachers seemed to know me very well. One thing that might surprise them is my newfound enjoyment of running – I’ve run two half marathons which technically equals a full marathon!

What are your favourite memories of your time at school?

My friends and I used to spend ages chatting on the Home Ground. Evening concerts and performances featured heavily in my time at school, all of which were great fun. I also have very fond memories of making a beeline for the tuna baguettes since the other option of cheddar and pickle was not a particularly attractive alternative.

What advice would you give to your school age self?

Try to enjoy sport! It’s not so bad …

Tell us about your career history.

There’s a theme. I worked at Brighton College as an Assistant Teacher of Mathematics as soon as I completed my A-levels here and I now work at the College again, joining almost immediately after graduating from university. I previously interned at a political strategic communications firm and also worked as a research analyst at the British Chamber of Commerce in Taipei. But what won’t surprise my teachers at all is that I have returned to work for Brighton College International.  

What does your current work involve?

Simply put, my job is to help grow the family of Brighton College schools overseas. We do this to support the College’s existing efforts to become needs-blind and offer a Brighton College education to those who previously wouldn’t have had such an opportunity.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

Getting teased by my team for being too young to understand references to basically anything pre-1990.

What are you most proud of?

I once climbed the Great Wall of China on two hours sleep, hungover, in 40-degree heat and under the direction of the most annoyingly enthusiastic tour guide I’ve ever met.

What are the three objects you would take with you to a desert island?

A pen, notepad, and my Ukelele.

How would you like to be remembered?

If this interview was the only trace of my existence, I’d be very happy!

You can listen to Ollie's podcast here: 東西酒館 | Pub Chat 东西酒馆 | Podcast on Spotify

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