Chris Daniels

Chris studied for a BA (Hons) Mathematics graduating in 1992.

He is now Head of Partnerships and Communications at Hybrid Air Vehicles. He has been doing this for 2 years and has come via a very circuitous route to get there.

- When you were a student, did you imagine you'd find yourself doing what you do now?

No.  I looked at the “milk round” of standard accountancy, management consultancy and actuarial jobs and it filled me with dread!  Which is one of the reasons I joined the Army as a Parachute Regiment Officer, where I spent 5 years in my 20s.  I would have started as an oil futures trader had I not done this. 

 

- What has been your biggest career challenge so far?

I’ve actively sought difficult jobs, which normally start as a blank sheet of paper where I need to define the job and what needs doing.  In 2009 I was offered the role of leading Lloyds Bank’s B2B London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic sponsorship and needed to work out a way – during the credit crunch (and when Bankers were not the most popular!) – of generating a £100 million plus return on investment.  

 

- What's the best thing about your current role?

Working on something entirely new and innovative, which will shake up the aviation industry, and having free rein to choose what to do to help push the company forward.  And I get to meet interesting people – be it politicians, reporters, senior business people or even the lead singer of Iron Maiden, who is one of our shareholders.
 

- What do you like/miss/remember most about Oxford Mathematics?

I was a terrible student!  But I had a great time at Oxford and the time passed rapidly in a blur. I felt I had a very full and rich student life.
 

- Do you describe yourself as a mathematician?

No.  But I enjoy reading about mathematics as a layman, and like the stretching ideas of pure mathematics, and logic and number theory in particular.  However, I have found having a modicum of mathematical thinking to be very useful to enable clear thinking and precision of ideas.  Mirroring that with the creativity that maths training gives you over other sciences and subjects is a winning combination in a wealth of different careers.  I would describe myself now as a Corporate Affairs, Sponsorship or Communications expert – and having a maths background, with the clear thinking this brings, enables me to stand out from the crowd and differentiate myself.    
 

- What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?

I’ve always loved sport and still compete in many endurance events and play squash regularly.  And I do enjoy keeping up with latest ideas and thinking on a range of cutting-edge ideas.  I believe in today’s rapidly changing world that retraining and relearning skills is crucial – an undergraduate degree is merely a springboard and a foundation to a lifelong learning process to keep yourself relevant to changing jobs.  I have completed a full time MBA and a University Diploma in Applied Psychology in recent years.