OA 2024 Issue 05

At the end of the College’s Quatercentenary, we thought it would be interesting to follow the lives and careers of the Class of 2019. Their stories continue here.


NATHAN SPARKES (12-19) The past year has provided me with valuable learning experience in the reality of the consulting world. I started as a Data Product Consultant in October 2022, and following a 15-week training period I began to apply my skills in some intermittent short-term projects. The range of data sources that I work with has no limits, and can be anything from GDPR compliance assessments to automating financial crime detection. My training covered a diverse set of platforms and tools that have enabled me to prepare, manipulate and derive insight from data regardless of its type or format. As a result, our client base has no industry restrictions nor size limit. I could be approached next week to help on a project for a small start-up, or I could find myself working with a global industry leader. The variety of opportunities is a hugely attractive part of the job. Following the economic impact of the pandemic, however, clients have been notably hesitant to look externally for consultants, making life quite slow for a junior consultant trying to gain exposure in the industry. It is only recently that I have been approached with opportunities for long- term placements, and fresh attitudes towards investing in external consultants have led to more stringent assessment processes being put in place to ensure we are suitable for the roles. It has been a long and tough process so far but industry trends are looking more positive into 2024 and I’m excited to get the ball rolling and see my career progress. Unrelated to the slow and quiet nature of work, I have found time to hone my golfing craft. After university I wanted to move on from hockey and find a sporting endeavour that would fill that gap. The goal for the next 12 months is to gain a somewhat respectable handicap! In general life news, I am leaving home in January to live with an OA who I sat next to on the very first day of Year 7 back in 2012. It feels like a real ‘full circle’ moment and another reminder of the importance of the friendships I made whilst at the College. I am looking forward to reminiscing on some good old times this summer as we approach our fifth year as OAs. How time has flown by! HARRY GOODWIN (14-19) In February, I returned to Dulwich for the first time since leaving in 2019. After giving my penny’s worth as a Cambridge graduate at the Careers Convention, I had the chance to catch up with my old teachers and to ruminate. Getting used to calling Dr Croally ‘Neil’ was one marker of time; my shop talk with passing Year 12s another. Not long ago their ambitions and obsessions were my own. I am less deeply and narrowly academic now than I was then – too busy and frazzled, for one thing, to make a dent in the kind of big books I devoured as a Sixth Former. Magazines are my main fare these days, and my devotion to Stephen Millar’s London’s Hidden Walks series is the last trace of the South Block historian. It’s thanks to the teachers who fostered my love of the subject that I’ve ended up in the alleyways of Mile End and Deptford. My love of newspapers persists. I have been on the news desk at The Sun for more than a year now, with a full contract and a thousand articles under my belt. I wrote the paper’s live blog for the Coronation, and was in Brixton to cover the crush disaster at the O2 Academy. I interviewed former Tory cabinet minister Revd Jonathan Aitken about his time in prison, and helped win full payouts for struggling single mums shafted by Kia’s warranty department. There can be few jobs more eye-opening. But I also relish the silly side of it, from ‘Putin’s deadly beauties’ and ‘Britain’s smelliest town’ to the travails of a certain other OA in the ‘I’m A Celebrity’ jungle. As for my own next steps, who knows? I want to see the world, to be stretched, to have a laugh, to make it – and have the peace and quiet to read proper books properly, and write them too. Whatever hidden walks of life await me will have their own, different blend of contentment and frustration. Sitting behind my place card in the Great Hall, prattling about courses and colleges, I remembered how I spent all of Dulwich dreaming of Cambridge, and all of Cambridge dreaming of the world. Now I’m here.

After 40 odd years in the business, do you now think that you are quite good at what you do? I have learned to trust in my instincts and ability to communicate a vison clearly to a team of experts who will translate that into something which is really powerful. TV has always been a collaborative thing. I mean, we all claim complete credit for everything that happens, but the truth is that you have to be good at working with people. You have to be able bring together a sometimes very disparate group of highly talented creative people under one vision.

What has life been like since the pandemic?

When Covid hit I was making a global special on Covid 19 for Discovery Channel US, which seamlessly moved from being made in ITN’s Grays Inn Road building to being a work-from-home production. We were told Ancient Apocalypse was the first international series Netflix allowed to shoot after lockdown as ITN have such robust health and safety protocols. So things didn’t really slow down during or after. Currently we are about to premiere ITN’s first ever feature film, which we have made in association with US network Lifetime. Girl in the Video stars Cush Jumbo and is a thriller set in Washington State but shot in the summer just outside Norwich using British actors and a virtual studio. Though if I hadn’t told you this you wouldn’t be able to tell. It’s a great thing to get up in the morning and know that you will do something creative but are not quite sure what it will be. And doing this with the support of a group of very talented people is simply brilliant. What would your 16-year-old self make of the man that is sitting in front of me today? I think he would be very surprised, but very pleased. As a 16-year- old, you’re so terrified of everything. The world seems so big, and people seem so good at what they do – it’s intimidating. The 16-year-old me would be amazed that people would let me do the things that I do today.

Is there anything you are particularly proud of?

I am a great lover of history and before lockdown we put together a series called History 101 for Netflix. We took really big, complex subjects like the rise of China or oil and reduced them to superfast programmes of just 20 minutes. There were no presenters, no talking heads, just infographics and archive. The idea was that they could play in any country in the world, and that the audience would not be able tell where they were produced. We didn’t want the series to feel American or British. It became a hit as parents across the globe realised how good the programmes were as an educational tool. I thought I might be making them for the rest of my life. Another highlight was overseeing the development and production of the controversial series Ancient Apocalypse with Graham Hancock for Netflix; at one point it was their third most watched programme globally.

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