MA English Literature, 1986
From Aberdeen to Business Comms Expert
Your Time at Aberdeen
Why did you choose to study at Aberdeen?
I was born in Scotland but grew up in England, and liked the idea of studying at a Scottish university. Aberdeen looked like a good option (I liked the history of the University) and an interesting city to live in.
Why did you choose your particular course?
I loved writing from an early age and was set on a career in journalism and publishing. An English degree seemed like a good step towards that.
What did you most enjoy about your time at Aberdeen? Did you have any particularly memorable student experiences?
Looking back, I didn't really make the most of my time at university and wish I'd done more, both academically and in terms of hobbies. However, I made some good friends and was out and about a lot. I was certainly no stranger to the Student Union! My favourite memories though are simply of walking around King's College, Seaton Park and the beach at Balgownie. I also remember some great lecturers who I enjoyed listening to, particularly in my secondary subjects of Social Anthropology and Moral Philosophy.
If you were involved in any clubs and societies as a student, what did you enjoy most about them and what benefit do you think they have for students?
I got quite involved in the Amnesty International society and, through that, attended a couple of conferences in London and Leeds. It was a good experience that broadened my horizons and, if I had my time again, I would have got involved in a lot more societies. Other than that, the only group activity that I remember getting involved in a lot was a five-a-side football league, which was great fun.
If talking to a group of prospective students, what advice would you give them to help them make the most of their time at the University of Aberdeen?
Grab the opportunity with both hands. Throw yourself into your studies. Join lots of societies. Mix with people from different backgrounds to yourself. Focus on making it a really fulfilling experience, and then everything else will fall into place.
Your Time After Aberdeen
What was the title of your first job after graduating from Aberdeen?
Reporter for William Reed Business Media.
What did your first role involve?
I was a trainee reporter at a magazine publishing group in London which is now called William Reed Business Media, and worked on a magazine called Convenience Store! I would interview people in the grocery and convenience store industry, writing news and features for what was a fortnightly magazine.
What is your current job title?
My business is called Fraser Allen Communications and, if pushed for a job title, I call myself Chief Storyteller. I’m also Social Media Curator for a brilliant project called the Library of Mistakes and, in 2020, I was appointed Ambassador of Communications for the Scottish Business Network.
What is your current role?
I devise effective content strategies for organisations and tackle a lot of B2B copywriting in sometimes complex areas such as finance, technology and corporate governance. This includes digital content, social media, white papers, books and video scripts. I’m also an experienced host and producer of business podcasts, working on several series for clients, as well as running my own Scottish Business Network podcast in which I’ve so far interviewed more than 70 of Scotland’s biggest business personalities.
Please briefly describe the journey from your first job after graduating to where you are now.
In 1989, I tool a job in Istanbul as a reporter on an English language newspaper called The Turkish Times, and also spent some time there working with a film company. I then worked as a business reporter and then editor for Haymarket Media Group in London, before moving into marketing. This led to a role as editorial director of the publishing division of the now-defunct Chime Communications plc. Then in 2001, I left to launch my own marketing agency in Edinburgh called White Light Media, and ran award-winning campaigns for brands such as Standard Life, Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds Banking Group, Channel 4 and Tesco. In 2019, I slimmed the business down and sold it in an MBO to my managing director, a fortuitous move given what happened with the pandemic crisis. I also had a secondary business called Hot Rum Cow Publishing, which published a beautiful magazine about drinks (called Hot Rum Cow). In 2013, I was voted Scottish Magazine Publisher of the Year and, in 2015, Hot Rum Cow was voted best drinks publication in the world at the 2015 Spirited Awards in New Orleans. I was also owner of World Whisky Day (www.worldwhiskyday.com) from 2015 to 2020. Funnily enough, World Whisky Day was founded by another Aberdeen graduate, Blair Bowman.
Was your degree at Aberdeen essential for getting to where you are now? If so, in what way?
Holding a degree was a requirement for my first job. And spending time at university honing my writing skills was definitely a big help in making headway in my career.
One Top Tip
Live your university life to the full. And if you need help, ask for it.