SSMA Blog: Consulting Award Winner Tom Burgess on His Journey to Success

Tom Burgess is in his final year studying Economics at the University of Nottingham. He is an incoming graduate at Deloitte’s Strategy & Operation Consulting Practice. He ran his university’s Consulting Group, where he tripled employer engagement and presented numerous workshops. He made it to KPMG’s International Case Competition national final, and has mentored 17-year-old students from low socio-economic backgrounds.

Tom received the Consulting Award at the Student Social Mobility Awards 2018.

Tell us a bit about your journey to winning a Student Social Mobility Award.

When I started at uni I jumped straight into finding insight opportunities and building a network. I wanted to work out what my best career option could be, and soon knew I was well suited to consulting. Since, I’ve secured an internship with Deloitte (and successfully converted it into a grad offer), worked part time on a Bank of England Brexit project, learnt masses from a professional mentor, reached the national final of a consulting competition, and managed my university’s consulting group to share some of my experiences with peers. I think the journey of learning new skills and making the most of opportunities to practice them has been the critical factor in getting to the position I am in.

How does it feel to be recognised with an award?

Winning the consulting award is extremely motivating! It’s quite crazy being celebrated in the House of Lords, and since the ceremony I’ve even been interviewed by a major newspaper about the impact of mentoring. As an incoming grad hire, Deloitte are keen to promote my achievement inside and outside the firm, so that helps my professional reputation. Most of all, being recognised alongside all the other nominees and winners, who all have absolutely incredible stories to tell and who undoubtedly will each achieve so much throughout their upcoming career, is a massive privilege.

What does social mobility mean to you? How have you championed it?

Being a first-generation university student who attended a state comprehensive, it’s really difficult to make those first steps into the professional world with little knowledge or contacts. These awards not only celebrated those who have worked hard enough to overcome their own situation, but importantly also celebrated the incredible individuals and organisations which champion the cause and make the unlikely much more possible.

I worked as an online mentor for school leavers from low socio-economic backgrounds, to give them the insight and experience that I have picked up myself to guide them in every step of the process – from motivating them to realise their academic potential, to helping them decide if university is their best option. Once I’ve built some more experience, I look forward to also giving something back to the cause of social mobility through mentoring upReach Associates.

What advice would you give to students just starting out at university?

Start early. Frankly, you’re going to have to look for a job at some point in your university life. The sooner you think about what path you might go down, the more time you have to build a professional network and develop the skills you’ll need to attract job offers – and succeed thereafter in that job.

I remember being the only first year student at an insight day, only two months after starting uni, but I believe I stood out as a candidate for that reason. However alien it seems at first, spending time in the professional environment is the best way to gain confidence in these situations and interviews. I have learned so much over the last few years from taking up different opportunities, from time management to communication – and not only has this helped me secure a competitive position but leaves me feeling confident in starting it.

Your career may last over 40 years so surely it’s worth investing the effort now to start it off on the right foot?

Why should people get involved with the Student Social Mobility Awards 2019?

From a personal perspective, I have been incredibly inspired by each and every one of the 2018 nominees. If an eligible individual or organisation has inspired you, I can’t encourage you enough to nominate them this year. The recognition is so encouraging as a recipient and so inspiring for everyone who hears about it.

Nominations for the Student Social Mobility Awards 2019 will open in June. To register your interest in nominating, sponsoring or attending the Awards, click here.

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