BA History and Politics - Sebastian Ambaye
Years at UEA
2012-2015 (graduated 2015)
Sebastian Ambaye graduated from BA History & Politics in 2015.
He is currently the Deputy Director of Net Zero Energy for the UK government's Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy.
We spoke to Sebastian about his experience at UEA and the career opportunities he was able to pursue, for example the mentoring programme which he was a part of.
Deputy Director of Net Zero Energy, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Previous roles include: Commercial Fast Stream Trainee in the Civil Service, Policy Advisor at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and Corporate Commercial Executive at East West Railway Company
Could you tell me about your current career?
I am currently the Interim Deputy Director for Net Zero Energy within the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
I lead a team of just over 30 people and we help the department to spend money in a way that reflects our goals: for example purchasing consultancy services, building nuclear power stations, and constructing offshore wind farms.
My day-to-day work is quite people-focused, so it's about building relationships with some of our key stakeholders, understanding what their needs are, and working with our suppliers to meet those needs, so that means a lot of meetings! It’s rewarding to know that what I’m doing is contributing to the greater good, within the UK and also globally.
What drew you to study History and Politics at UEA?
When I was applying for universities, history and politics are two topics that were really at the top for me.
I have always been interested in them, and I think they naturally intertwine. I also knew that they would give me useful transferable skills for whatever future career I ended up in. I’d say the number one skill that I ended up developing was the ability to sort through large swathes of information to get to the core of that which was truly essential to know.
The politics side also taught me to articulate myself clearly to fellow classmates and lecturers, as well as improving my written communication. I went to lots of open days to work out what university to go to, and when I came to UEA I just had an innate feeling that this was the right place for me to go. I liked that the facilities were all in one place on the campus, and everyone I spoke to, from student ambassadors to lecturers, were really friendly.
What was your experience of teaching on this course in lectures and seminars?
I came across some of the most interesting and intelligent people on this course, amongst my fellow classmates and my lecturers.
There were a wide range of modules and electives to choose from, and one that really stood out to me was to do with the continent of Africa, and it changed the way I viewed Africa and it’s stuck with me to this day. Support from teachers and lecturers was really important during exam season, and everyone would come together to support each other with peer-to-peer working groups.
What careers events and employability opportunities did you take part in while at UEA?
I tried to take advantage of all the events run by the careers service: I attended talks about different careers pathways, and I remember I attended one for Politics and some ex-politicians were speaking.
There were mentoring schemes on offer which I took part in, where you could have a one-on-one talk with a mentor or develop a longer mentoring relationship. I was able to meet lots of different people who were in different careers, and it was great to speak to people with a wide range of experiences, and that helped me to work out what areas I didn’t want to work in as well as which areas were more appealing to me. I also found out about and applied to multiple internships through the CareerCentral service which I would say helped me to get into my current career.
Were you involved in any societies?
I went to the Societies Fair during fresher’s week where all of the societies are in the sports hall and they show you what they are about.
I signed up for societies such as clay pigeon shooting and American football, and I dabbled in lots of others too.
How did you feel upon graduating from UEA?
I had applied for a graduate scheme and I found out before I graduated that I had been successful.
So I was able to graduate knowing what job I was heading into. Leaving university is a mixed bag of emotions - I grew up a lot between 18 and 21, so it was sad leaving but I was grateful to have received a great education and secured a job.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering studying History and Politics at UEA?
This course is great for people who have a particular interest in history and politics and it’s very rewarding.
But I think in terms of career prospects it’s important to take some time to hone in on what you actually want to do before graduation. I would say to engage with the UEA careers services as soon as possible, where you can get in contact with alumni such as myself and learn about the career opportunities that are available. Do your best to get experience, but also don’t be afraid to broaden your horizons and pick modules that sound new and interesting to you.