Early Careers Profiles: Theo Davies-Lewis, associate at Finsbury and Welsh affairs commentator

Theo Davies-Lewis graduated with first-class honours from Oxford in 2019, and now works at the leading global strategic communications firm, Finsbury. During his time at university he re-established both Oxford’s media society and its student radio station.

Our 'Early Careers' series covers Oxford University alumni who are in the first ten years of their careers in media.

theo davies-lewis.jpg

Theo Davies-Lewis graduated with first-class honours from Oxford in 2019, and now works at the leading global strategic communications firm, Finsbury. During his time at university he re-established both the Oxford University Media Society and Oxford’s student radio station.

How did you use your time at Oxford to make you more hireable? What skills should students focus on developing to stand out from the crowd? 

Of the many activities I got involved with at Oxford, it was definitely re-establishing the Media Society that gave me the opportunity to meet a mix of editors, journalists, broadcasters, politicians, and PR executives. At the start it was a lot of work largely on my own – sending letters inviting figures to become Patrons, recruiting and working with a student committee, organising a varied and interesting term card, and gaining the support of many Heads of Houses – but it certainly gave me the confidence that it was an initiative that was valuable to the Oxford community.

The events themselves were well-attended and I enjoyed interviewing friendly and interesting speakers, and the dinners we organised with the Heads of Houses of various colleges was a great way to engage with speakers and other guests in a more private setting afterwards. The way we made the most of the resources available to us at the university meant we were able to reflect a unique professionalism to both our members but also our guests – which always helps when you’re looking for a job!

As I learnt, getting your foot in the door is often something you have to do yourself. If I had any advice for students, it would be to reach out to people at any level of their desired profession, as most of the time people are more than willing to help.

How confident did you feel about careers when you graduated? Is it fine to feel a little uncertain? 

I was fortunate to have a general idea of what I wanted to do when I left, largely because of my work with the Media Society. But of course, it’s OK to feel uncertain even as you step into a first job, as I’ve found it takes some time to adjust to a new environment. Unlike before, your profession is not set in stone when you leave education; for many, their career will be varied across different sectors and that’s something to be excited about.

Are there any parts of the job you haven’t enjoyed as much + why? 

As to be expected in any graduate job, it’s probably the long hours and weekend work. But on the whole it’s a really enjoyable and valuable learning experience, especially as a first step out of university.

What does your average 9-5 look like? (Is it even 9-5?) 

It normally starts early in the morning, seeing what news or events may be interesting and important to our clients, which can involve sending analysis to them. Otherwise the rest of the day is always varied – from writing press releases and other copywriting, drafting communications materials, engaging with journalists or financial analysts, organising different projects for clients, as well as research tasks. The current pandemic has oddly put my productivity up, so am working longer hours than usual.

Greatest professional achievement? 

It’s outside of ‘work’, but it will definitely be co-founding Darogan Talent – a graduate network for high-quality job opportunities in Wales. Especially in the current climate, our economy has to work for the future workforce and opportunities should be made available. It’s a project around 18 months in the making so I’m looking forward to announcing our new digital platform and new business partners this month.

Where would you like to be in 5 years’ time? 

At this rate I’d be happy to become the next Malcolm Tucker. After all, it looks like the government needs one…

Quickfire round

Favourite book you’ve read recently? Gitta Sereny’s fascinating Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth, which captures how Hitler’s architect struggled to come to terms with his own role in Nazism after 20 years in Spandau prison.

Favourite podcast? Podcast-wise, Dan Snow’s History Hit is also great for anyone interested in history across different periods and geographies.

Favourite film or series? On a lighter note my girlfriend has persuaded to watch new films and series during lockdown. After Life and Killing Eve are my favourites.

Theo gave this interview over the summer vacation.