Adam Watling, the Head of Student Futures in People and Services joined ENU in July 2018. The role itself is focussed on the strategic leadership of a central careers and employability service which comprises of dedicated and experienced professionals from across the placements, careers and skills and graduate employability functions. Working with the team and seeing first hand how much their work impacts our students and graduates is what I love the most about my role, as just like my colleagues, I am also passionate about making a genuine difference to the lives of our Napier cohort through our day to day work.

Adam shares his career story in this Q&A:


Tell us a bit about how you came to work in careers?

I can’t believe I am approaching 15 years of professional experience in the HE careers and employability sector, I don’t know where the time has gone! My first role was as placements and events coordinator at London College of Fashion. At the time my experience had mainly been in resourcing and recruitment, where I had been supporting candidates into senior careers across the HR and Business sector. Whilst I loved helping shape people’s careers, the sales element that came with the role had a shelf life for me. So, when the chance to work in HE Careers came along, it allowed me to retain the parts of my job that I very much loved whilst moving away from the cutthroat business of cold calls and upselling, which ultimately wasn’t for me.  

What has helped you progress in your role?

The opportunity to continually take on new roles at London College of Fashion not only pushed me out of my comfort zone but also helped me build a range of different perspectives and skill sets that gradually helped me shape my managerial experience and identify that leading a team and then ultimately a department, was something that very much appealed to me.

During my time at London College of Fashion I gained experience across careers and employability and built my knowledge of the sector whilst at the same time developing my leadership and management skills. My final role at London College of Fashion was Head of Careers. 

What prompted you to join Edinburgh Napier?

The real appeal of the Head of Student Futures role at Edinburgh Napier was the way that the University clearly indicated that employability was an area of key focus and not an ‘add on’, which some universities often see it as. This very much aligns with my own view on careers and employability and it needing to be front, and centre of any university’s identity, so to have been offered the opportunity to work in a place that aligned to my own values was, and still is, extremely exciting and a real high point of my career.

This move also geographically took me from one end of the UK to the other, with the added twist of continuing to live in the Southeast of England and embarking on a long-distance commute! This seemed inconceivable to many but when you care passionately about your role and the university you are working for, you make it work. 

What difference have you made at Edinburgh Napier that you are most proud of?

I will have been with Napier for 5 years in August and the time has flown. Over that time, I have helped to contribute to the shaping of our wider employability offer through the development of our ENU employability strategy. This work has benefited hugely from the support of vastly experienced professionals from Student Futures team and across our academic communities. The collaborative nature of ENU is really what it is I love the most about working here, the consistent positive impact of staff genuinely caring about student development and experience and working together to that end keeps me feeling motivated and focused and on growing my own skill set.

Away from work, what do you do in your free time?

The days of free time outside of work are probably slightly more restricted now I have a 10-month-old daughter, Polly Rose Watling. But I wouldn’t change that for the world, so it isn’t a complaint, but being a father keeps me well occupied.

Outside of that I enjoy playing and watching football, however I won’t commit to public record the name of the team I support as they are often a source of personal pain, humiliation, and anguish. Those of you who know who I support will understand exactly what I mean, those of you who don’t know, will probably guess from that description alone…. 

"When you care passionately about the work you are doing and feel supported by the people you work with it is amazing what you can achieve."

Adam Watling