This is an interview I conducted with Emily Tam for WIBF magazine.
This month Rosalind Brabner caught up with Cambridge graduate, Emily Tam to find out what it is really like to be a Fresh Face in finance.
Tell Us About Yourself?
I studied economics at Cambridge and once I had graduated I looked for jobs in either banking or accounting. I was drawn to accounting as there were opportunities to gain qualifications and train whilst working. So for three years I was involved with a work and study programme and am now a qualified accountant. I’ve really benefitted from this as I’ve developed transferable skills and am now an executive for Ernst and Young.
What aspects of your role do you enjoy the most?
Right now I manage engagements; I’m working with different clients and portfolios of investments as well as being in charge of junior staff. When I first started I was confident about dealing with the technical side of things but it turns I actually enjoy interacting with clients the most.
Do you find being a woman in banking and finance a challenge?
I do still find it a masculine dominated industry, for example I was on a training course this week and out of the 25 people on the course there were only 6 women in the class. You have to be quite strong in this industry but my company hold meetings and seminars especially for women to meet other women in the same work environment and were able to discuss the challenges that we face. I do feel that women are being supported in this industry and that is important to me as there is still a pattern of male dominance as you move up the career ladder in finance.
What do you think has contributed to your success in this industry?
It is the full experience I’ve had in the company, I learnt a great deal and feel valued by my team. Being from Hong Kong I think I look differently at things, I have much more of an international perspective for example I look at the bigger scale, I think about the global view and I know that makes me stand out. Two of the best career achievements last year for me were travelling to Madrid and Milan on business and I’d love more opportunities to travel with work.
What are some of the more important criteria you look for in a choosing career?
I want to know that I’ll be able to progress and develop new skills. As an Asian woman I need to know I’m in a diverse and global company. Diversity is important to me as I want to know I’ll be recognised in the work place. Also I think it is important for companies to encourage flexible work hours, a company that doesn’t expect you to work very long hours so your able to control your own time.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
In the summer I play tennis but most of my spare time is spent socialising with friends. I like inviting people over for dinner and just hanging out and having fun with good company.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
I hope to stay with the company hopefully with the opportunity to make senior management and I’d also really like to work in another country, either China or the US.
I recently posted a message on Facebook asking people whether they were interesting enough to interview for the blog. Not many people got back to me apart from Adam. Adam Sampson to be precise. From the outside it’s easy to assume that Adam is just another Essex boy, women, booze, cars and guitars are all subjects of desire for Adam. But the real apple in Adam’s life is much, much stranger…….
What’s your thoughts on the ‘miracle of birth?’
The miracle of birth. Wow. I could literally talk about this for days! I think my main fascination stems from the fact that I cant fully get my head around the concept. I know the process, I know the theory, but in reality the whole thing is too immense and too amazing, almost to the point where I cant believe it. The basics, a man and woman have sex and then 9 months later out pops a human…an actual person that has all the potential in the world, a person that from the moment it is born affects the world in infinite ways and changes the course of the world just because two people had sex and released some fluid in a moment of passion…9 times out of 10 a literal ‘moment’. A girl in my work was pregnant and i asked if i could feel her stomach about a year ago. It was mental and i couldn’t believe she was just sitting there with a human growing inside her! I think when i have babies one day it might all become clear but it will probably be even more miraculous! The actual process of reproduction is so incomprehensible I wont even bother going into it!
Your in a band called One Tonne Baby, do you not think that this a slightly inappropriate name considering the UK in the midst of an obesity epidemic?
Well i could say that it is an ironic political statement commenting on the eating habits of the children in the uk, ala jamie oliver. However, as a band we are strongly against jamie oliver in general and therefore this is not true. In fact, one tonne baby was the term coined in respect of the first ever computer system as it weighed a tonne! I also like the flow of the name, the imagery it portrays as well as the inside joke th’at it could be used when describing a phallus!
What has been the best and worst things about growing up in Essex?
To be honest I dont really see Romford as apart of Essex but still. I like romford in general because it basically has everything I need. Although essex in general is a bit shit. I like the proximity to london and the fact I can feel superior towards northerners! The worst bit is the people, like proper scum! I really don’t like or mean to sound like I’m superior, honest! But I cant stand the idiots around here who need to focus all their concentration on breathing! Its a vicious circle though, like I’ll go to a club and women who somehow think they are better than you always end up with the ugliest and thickest bloke in there. It’s like they have radar! Overall though, I like it!
Friends have mentioned that you are a bit of a womanizer….
HAHA. What friends would describe me as that? I would hate to be known as a womanizer, honestly I am a nice guy with women but it gets me nowhere, I’m slowly learning this as I get older. The thing I’ll never get is if you treat a woman like you should you are ‘too nice’ and ‘boring’ but then you treat them mean and you are a wanker! See the thing women don’t seen to get about men is that there so many dicks that will treat you badly and can’t be changed. If you choose these blokes them you can’t moan when you get stung! Not all men are wankers, but if you choose to be with a wanker then don’t be surprised when you are treated like one! Back on topic I am so rubbish chatting women up, I’m actually too shy. I usually end up doing a gay dance! I don’t know what I want though so that doesn’t help, bad experiences have burned me out! Just need someone to restore my faith……
What is Adam Sampson’s understanding of ‘the meaning of life?’
I honesty don’t think there is one. Just to live and enjoy it. If you make just one person smile, one person feel the warmth of love in some way then you have lived a meaningful life!
With zero stage presence and ghastly stammering questions I’m surprised the likes of Sharon Osbourne, Ulrika Jonsson and Richard Branson bothered. The show itself is OK, Richard Branson being especially interesting but Parkinson never recruited the likes of video interruptions to depict his interviewees. Instead of an indepth journalistic interview that one would come to expect from an ex-editor of a major tabliod, ‘Piers Morgan’s Life Stories’ feels a bit more like the fluffy ‘This is Your Life’ set in Chris Tarrents’s Millionaire studio. Throw in in a posh bloke with a Marbella tan and a celebrity excercising some serious PR techniques I think I would prefer to watch another re-run of ‘Half Man Half Tree’.
Too be honest I think Alan Carr would be a better candidate, at least he would get to the bloody point! Check out this post…. hitting the nail on the head?
If like me your obsessed with interviews check this Guardian article out.
The Top Ten
1. Richard Nixon interviewed by David Frost (couldn’t be anything else really)
2. Princess Diana inteviewed by Martin Bashir (Dirty Diana rather than Wacko Jacko then)
3. John Lennon interviewed by Jann S. Wenner for Rolling Stone
4. Marlon Brandon interviewed by Truman Capote
5. Dennis Potter interviewed by Melvyn Bragg
6. Francis Bacon interviewed by David Sylvester
7. Marilyn Monroe interviewed by Richard Meryman
8. Sex Pistols interviewed by Bill Grundy (recorded chaos)
9. Malcom X interviewed by Alex Haley
10. Adolf Hitler interviewed by George Sylvester Viereck
OK, so I haven’t exactly been frequently publishing lately, although I have been interviewing many different people for work from radio industry professionals to international students in many different parts of the world. Unfortunatley I am unable to publish them on my little portal here but I have put together my favorite television interviews of the last few years:
Simon Amstell Ruins The Kooks
Tyra confronts Naomi
Kerry loses it
This month reporter Rosalind Brabner looks at why even though ever since 1999 the rapid increase in HIV has been caused by heterosexually acquired infections, gay men are still denied the right to give blood.
I’m not completely sure Winchester was prepared for the conversation my four friends and I was about to have. Speaking in our usual loud cackles to one another about our recent indiscretions, my friend Rob mentioned his latest embarrassing moment.
He recalled how he was turned away from his local blood service unit because he was gay, “I was so upset, mainly because I felt embarrassed and like some diseased promiscuous homo”. What seemed to be a further kick in the teeth for Rob was the fact he only went because he was told by his Doctor that the AB rhesus positive blood type he had was very rare. And although it did give us fantastic material for the weekly piss takes, ‘So rob let me get this right, you’re a rare species of gay that’s unwanted?’ I thought it was an issue that deserved exploring.
NATIONAL BLOOD SERVICE
According to the National Blood Service the reason men who have sex with men are banned from giving blood is because they are considered the highest risk group despite the fact that since 1999 heterosexually acquired HIV became and has continued to be the main exposure category.
International HIV and AIDS charity, Advert state on their website that “the major component of the rapid increase in recent years has been heterosexually acquired infections… in 1999, for the first time, the rate of heterosexually acquired HIV diagnosis overtook the rate of diagnosis in men who have sex with men.”
TERRENCE HIGGINS TRUST
The UK’s largest HIV and sexual health charity, Terrence Higgins Trust support the National Blood Service’s policy claiming that it is “a public health issue, rather than one of homophobic discrimination”.
Speaking to Rob about the situation over coffee a couple of weeks later he explained in a little more detail what he felt could be discriminatory about the circumstance, “I completely understand the implications of taking blood from a gay man however I am regularly tested and I have never had unprotected sex. Apart of me thinks the notion that HIV is a ‘gay disease’ drives this policy.”
The Terrence Higgins Trust insists “HIV has never been a gay disease as anyone can contract it”. However the Trust does put forward statistics which reflect how much more likely it is for men who have sex with men to contract HIV than other groups. “Around 1 in 10 gay men in London are now living with HIV and 1 in 25 gay men in the rest of the country”. These statistics certainly make the link between HIV and gay men hard to ignore.
The trust explains that even though it is true heterosexual acquired HIV is on the increase homosexual men are still the highest risk group. The trust claims that of the 54% of new HIV diagnoses were through heterosexual sex 85% of them were contracted outside of the UK. In contrast the 84% of men who have sex with men who were diagnosed in 2005 probably acquired the disease in the UK.
What Rob I and find it hard to get our head around is if you know you haven’t got it, absolutely sure, if you’ve been tested on a regular basis and partake in safe sex then why can’t you give blood? Rob even argues that the blood is always tested before use, “They test the blood anyway! I just find it unfair and another form of prejudice, I don’t usually care about any gay issues. Nothing ever offends me or upsets me but this does for some reason, probably because I think that blood donation is such an important issue”.
AN INTERNATIONAL EPEDEMIC
This isn’t just a British issue; due to the world health organization’s advice gay blood is globally unwanted. South African journalist Andrew Barnes had a similar experience to Rob.
Having circled ‘yes’ to the question asking, ‘have you ever had sex with another man?’ Barnes was immediately informed by the nurse his blood was ‘unwanted’. Telling the ‘Cape Argus News’ Barnes said, “I was shocked…homosexual men are not the highest risk group (in South Africa). I don’t think they should have a blanket ban on gay men giving blood”.
In response to this issue The South African blood service’s medical director Arthur Bird acknowledged, “I accept totally that with these types of questionnaires and safety margins we have do cast a net. We accept that we sometimes sweep in safe donors unnecessarily, but that’s the nature of the beast”.
The situation is also the same in the United States. Despite The American Red Cross, the American Association of Blood Banks and America’s Blood Centre’s making an official statement which read that the ban “is medically and scientifically unwarranted” and that “it does not appear rational to broadly differentiate sexual transmission via male to male sexual activity from that via heterosexual activity on scientific grounds”, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) announced in 2007 that gay men will continue to be denied the right to give blood.
The overwhelming contradiction of all the information is one of the most frustrating aspects to this topic. Until all statistics concerning the link between homosexual sex and HIV correlate with each other the issue of whether men who have sex with men can give blood will never be changed.
A NEW CARELESS VIEW
Last month GT columnist, Paul Thorn shared his shock at how his ‘young admirer’ had such little knowledge of HIV. Paul’s impression is that because the HIV/AIDS issue is not as substantial as it was 10 years ago people aren’t as aware of it, “It is perhaps a side affect of pharmaceuticals allowing us to manage the virus that young people seem to be less informed these days about HIV, what is safe and what isn’t.” Perhaps what is the main issue here is re-vamping available information on HIV prevention.
By providing a constant stream of information so people are aware of the dangers of un-protected sex enables the amount of HIV contractions to decrease. I believe it will be then and only then that gay men will be given the right to give blood.
SEEING THE UK THE ROCK ‘N’ ROLL WAY
Leeds band, ¡Forward Russia! cultivated murmurs of success in 2006 when the four piece released their first album, Give me a wall. Now in the middle of touring second album, Life Processes Rosalind Brabner caught up with lead singer, Tom Woodhead and Bassist Rob Canning to find out what life is really like on the road.
I was ten minutes early as usual. I always think there is a better chance of getting a cup of tea when you’re early. Turns out not so much this time, but I was greeted by an awkward guitar manager called Alan. I know his name was Alan because he told me. Twice. Alan and his beard walked me into what he called ‘the dressing room’ but what I knew to be the backroom of the Birmingham Barfly where people go to throw up on a club night. Once the band had finished their sound check Alan or his beard (I couldn’t tell) suggested it was best to find a quieter spot to do the interview so we walked up 3 flights of stairs only to find a room in the derelict club the Barfly adjoins which had seats and pigeon in it.
Rob: “This is possibly the only interview we’ve had with a pigeon in it”. At this point I knew I was on to a winner, Parkinson never had a pigeon.
Having toured their first album extensively around the UK, ¡Forward Russia! are no novices to the grueling traveling schedules, but Rob admits things have changed, “when we started off we had stars in our eyes and dreams that hadn’t been crushed, it was quite an exciting time really, we were quiet young and naïve to it all so it was just a sense of adventure and we’re a bit more boring this time round, the novelty wares off”. Tom adds, “We’ve been thrown by most things we could be have been thrown by so we feel like we’re pretty much prepared for anything to go wrong”. Literally, Tom really has had most things thrown at him on tour, “I got hit by an onion once, a whole onion, and it was one of those really big white ones”.
Unsurprisingly Tom reckons Leeds is the best place in the UK to play, “Leeds is always good, the northern gigs tend to be better although we’ve had a couple of good gigs in Brighton”, whereas Rob enjoys touring Scotland, “there is a certain atmosphere in Scotland that’s quiet unbeatable, you get a really, really good crowd in Scotland”. It seems to me that ¡Forward Russia! are just another northern band wary of southerners but Tom and Rob insist that “in general most bands will tell you the further north you go the crowd just loosens up a bit more, when you’ve been working down the mine all day you just need the escape of live music: being at a bank isn’t the same”, not a surprise that at this point my accent tales off into thicker estuary slurs.
“The worst thing about being on tour is that you get f**king ill, you get really rundown, I feel quite delicate today. It’s a total emotional rollercoaster, one minute you can feel really high and the next minute and can feel really, really low and down about stuff”. Emphasising this point with a sniffle, Rob didn’t do much to convince me that it’s not all just a case of the man flu but I’d thought I’d better give him the benefit of the doubt because he did just offer an alarming insight into the emotional stability of a bass guitarist.
Unfortunately but expectedly Tom and Rob admit they see more service stations than cities in the UK when they’re on tour, “It’s quite hard when you’re on a relatively tight schedule to look around, you arrive at the venue do your bits and bobs and then the sound check so its difficult to fit sight seeing in there, we have seen about a million and one travel lodges though, I could tell you loads about them”. It’s not until a day off comes along that they get to hangout in different places, Rob explains, “yeah when we’ve done a gig miles away, in Brighton or something we’ll stay down there but we haven’t had many days off on this tour”. With such a hardcore traveling programme and just one van for all four band members and Alan ( + beard) I wondered if ¡Forward Russia!’s second tour was riddled with arguments, smelly feet and general misconduct especially as the other two band members Whiskers (guitar) and Katie (Drums) are siblings. “Everyone can be annoying at times, its like being with your family loads of pointless bickering, someone hates someone one day and then someone else the next, its that sort of thing” says Rob. Tom clarifies that touring with siblings “can be nightmare, it’s exactly what you imagine it would be”.
Katie caused a bit of a stir recently after rating how good the different crowds were on the Scottish leg of their tour, “we told her not to do that but she still did it” they both tell me, Rob adds, “Katie’s quite naïve in some ways, she doesn’t realise someone might offended if you call them a shit crowd”. Tom reckons that a good crowd is much more than how much noise they make, “sometimes you can tell when crowds aren’t even moving that they are really into it; it’s all about the atmosphere”. And the best thing about being a British band at the moment?, “it’s really hard to say, we are totally out of any scene at the moment, I guess the touring is much better, in America you have to travel miles and miles to the next venue- that would be hard”. ■
Back in November 2007 I was comissioned by channel 4’s 4talent to investigate the celebrity obsessed radio industry. I interviewed Kerrang! (West Midlands) radio’s breakfast presenters Kate Lawler and Tim Shaw to find out whether they thought radio presenting’s future is in the hands of reality tv stars and d-list celebrities.
Please note this interview took place before Tim Shaw decided to hammer the final nail in his already vunerable radio DJ career by fixing the shows comeptitions for mates.
More and more reality TV stars and d-list celebrities are turning to radio to resuscitate their media careers. Rosalind Brabner talks to the top dogs at Birmingham’s Kerrang! radio to find out whether this industry trend is damaging the chances of young radio hopefuls.
Like most aspects of the media industry the radio world is a highly desirable career path. Thousands of students graduate from radio specialist degrees each year in the UK, but thanks to our current celebrity-obsessed media is it possible that this talent is wasted in favour of a recognisable ‘name’?
Kelly Osborne, Goldie Lookin’ Chain and even z-listers like Richard and Leah from Big Brother are just a handful of examples that have used their fame to rule the airwaves. That’s not to say that there aren’t examples of new talent coming through in the industry: Radio One recently plucked UEA graduate, Greg James straight from the clutches of student radio, but is this just a unique case or is there room in the industry for more home grown talent?
“We looked at a lot of different options but the chemistry was so strong”
Midlands radio station Kerrang! made column inches recently when former Big Brother winner Kate Lawler was announced as the new co-presenter of the prime time breakfast slot along with controversial radio DJ Tim Shaw back in October.
Gordon Davidson, Programme Director of the rock music station admits “having a name is of interest” but stresses that it is the content that is paramount. “We looked at a lot of different options but the chemistry was so strong, they get on with each other and enjoy working together.”
“Big Brother did open a lot of doors, and I don’t think all the things would have happened otherwise”
Having dabbled in a number of media projects after her success on Big Brother, such as TV presenting and modelling, 27 year old Kate is certainly thankful: “Big Brother did open a lot of doors, and I don’t think all the things would have happened otherwise – I wouldn’t have tried to get into this industry”. But Kate explains her background as a reality television star hasn’t always helped her career. “There were a lot of times where people said ‘I can’t really employ her because of Big Brother’- but on the whole I’ve had really nice response.”
Kate’s co-host, 32 year old Tim Shaw believes that there is definitely room in the industry for new talent: “English radio is on its fookin’ arse big time, nobody is doing anything new”. Ranked third most controversial radio DJ of all time by an American broadcaster’s website, the father of two has been sacked or suspended from every station he has ever worked at, and says, “We need brighter people in commercial radio: it’s full of idiots”. With a first class degree himself from Ravensvourne in Kent, Tim believes there is a need for graduates in radio: “it just moves you forward- I think that it will weed out all the twaddle, and it shows you’re serious about it.”
“You need to really demonstrate your skills and professionalism to get noticed”
Like all careers in the media, success within the radio industry is at least partly determined by the amount of experience that you gain. Birmingham City University student Jay Dormer juggles his radio degree with working part time for Chrysilis radio at Heart 100.7 and Galaxy 102.2, believing “you need to really demonstrate your skills and professionalism to get noticed because there really is a lot of competition always on your back.”
Despite lacking notoriety as yet, Jay has a positive outlook for the future of his radio career: “There are loads of opportunities out there; I wouldn’t say I’ve so far found it really difficult to get into the industry.” And is he worried about the increase of known names in radio? “Going to university has given me skills that I can use to make a difference, a Z-list celebrity is more likely to turn up, squeeze their big head through the door and do a simple mindless job.”
“Some of the world’s best DJs are up their own arses”
Never short on opinions, Tim Shaw thinks “some of the world’s best DJs are up their own arses,” while Gordon Davidson on the other hand believes it’s important to “learn from those who’ve been around before” but stresses it can simply boil down to “a lot of luck.”
“Radio is full of dreadfully insecure people”, Tim says, and his best advice for people considering a career in the industry is therefore to “go away and ask yourself every day for a year if you really want to be in radio.” And if after that year they still want the same career? “Then hands on experience is better than anything.”
“Radio is full of dreadfully insecure people”
Having a ‘name’ is a clear headstart in any media career but it’s pretty obvious you need more than that to sustain yourself in the business.
Kate’s clearly one of the lucky ones – which is not to say she doesn’t have talent – but she admits doors have certainly opened for her due to her celebrity. But for every Kate Lawler there’s a Tim Shaw, and thanks to the likes of DAB radio and internet stations it’s getting easier for the next radio savior to have an impact on the airwaves.