Former Student Profile - Elspeth Luna (Body), Class of 2004

Guild STEM

We are very grateful to Elspeth who returned to school for the Year 12 & 13 Inspire and Career talk and networking event Monday 25 March.

Attended Wycombe High School from 1998 to 2004.  This was the last time the start year was Year 8.

What did you get up to at WHS in terms of study and extracurricular activities?

I didn’t do much extra-curricular in school. I had a love-hate relationship with Orchestra, largely based on me loving the idea of it but not the reality of practising! The Dance Performance Group started when I was in Year 12 which was great, having done loads of dance outside of school - Dance GSCE wasn’t offered at the time. For A levels I did Chemistry, Geography and History, leaving me with the excellent memories of the final Chemistry lesson, where we finally got to find out how those burn marks got on the lab ceiling.

What did you do after school?

After school I went straight to Bristol University to do a Geography degree. Bristol was my first choice as I really liked that it wasn’t a campus university, but in and around the city. I also liked the course content, and that it was a research-focussed department.   (Elspeth has lived in Bristol since coming to university here and  thoroughly recommend it!)

- University of Bristol, 2004-2007 (Geography BSc)

- Bristol City Council, Intelligent Transport Systems Officer, 2007-2012

- Environment Agency, several roles including Incident Management Adviser and Data Sharing Technical Specialist, 2012-2017

- Defra, Fiscal Strategy Adviser, 2017-2018

- NERC, Head of Strategy and Planning, starting Sept 2018

What are you up to now?

I’m now working for the Natural Environment Research Council as Head of Strategy (NERC), and see lots of output from my old university lecturers!  NERC is a government agency which funds environmental science, covering everything from space weather to the properties of the Earth’s mantle, climate change, biodiversity, Antarctic ice sheets and lots in between.

What do you know now that you didn’t in Year 13 that you’d like to share with current students?

How important role models are, and that career paths can be random and non-linear! I’ve moved from intelligent transport systems through to data management, incident management and then into strategy, and while I’ve built on skills each time, the jobs have not had a natural progression. With regards to role models - I never thought leadership was for me, until I worked for my last boss - she had a leadership style that I could relate to and see myself emulating, and it completely changed my view of myself, and it’s now something I’m aiming towards.

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