Peter Gradwell studied Software Engineering at Aber, graduating in 2002. While at University he founded his own internet communications company, which now employs 45 people and has annual income of £4M.
What do you remember most about your time at Aber?
Many things, probably the most consistent was the sea, which was ever present and played a huge part in my time there (I was involved in the Kayak club, I lived on South Marine Terrace) and as you may know, is a perfect backdrop for all of life’s ups and downs. Second to that is the memories I have of my friends and the great community that there was.
What are you doing now career-wise and how has your Aberystwyth Degree helped?
I started a business, Gradwell dot com Ltd, in my 2nd year of university, which helped pay my way. Now based in Bath, that company now employs 45 people and has a £4M annual income. It’s grown steadily since 1998 when I started it in Aber. My degree is in software engineering. My degree gave me two things. Firstly, some practical tools and techniques in terms of software engineering, design and project management and I use those every day. Secondly, there was a huge emphasis on getting “comp sci” students to talk to each other (we’re typically a shy bunch!) and work together and I have formed a number of enduring friendships within my degree class, as well as from friends I made in halls/socially. That taught me the value of “techies” who got on with each other and could work together – and one of the most challenging things in a business that employs a lot of engineers is replicating that same environment. Additionally, my industrial year gave me the opportunity to work in a big PLC and understand, ultimately, it wasn’t for me – a useful lesson!
What advice would you have for a student doing your course now?
As an employer, we see a lot of students come out of these degree schemes without much thought or experience about how they will use their knowledge. It is true that a degree teaches you generic theories, but as a student you need to apply them to the current world. So playing with new tools and technologies which are available, but not part of the syllabus is essential so you know how the world is currently working and how you can contribute.
Here is a recent interview I did which talks about Aber.