Ian Forber

Country: United Kingdom
Sector: Government
Job title: Director
Subject of study: Chemistry
Year of graduation: 1989
Type/Level of study: Undergraduate

Current Employer/Organisation Name

Ministry of Defence

What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?

I have worked in the civil service since graduating, in the MOD and Cabinet Office and specialising in international relations, foreign policy and international security and defence policy. This has included supporting Cabinet Ministers, Parliamentary engagements and international negotiations at a bilateral and multilateral level. I have Masters degrees in International Relations and in Public Policy.

Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?

A career in the public service allows me to design, influence and implement Government policy. Helping Ministers to decide what to do is immensely satisfying and gives a privileged insight into the intersection between domestic politics, citizen’s needs and the international perspective.

What did you enjoy most about your programme and what was the biggest highlight?

I chose Chemistry because it developed an understand of how the world works, both at a physical and quantum level.

What did you enjoy most about studying here?

The friendships developed and the exchange of different opinions and perspectives from those with different backgrounds, including overseas students.

Why did you choose to study at Exeter?

Nice campus. Far away from my home town and much drier and sunnier!

What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?

Rigorous analysis of the evidence: policies need to be made on robust evidence. Writing skills are essential. Civil servants need to present an issue in a concise, logical way that allows a reader who may not be familiar with the subject matter to understand it and make an informed decision.

What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?

Be flexible. There are many routes into the civil service, not just the Fast Stream, which doesn’t work for everyone. Don’t fixate on starting immediately on what you think you want to do – your career path may evolve in very different directions. Most of all though, do something you enjoy. Life’s too short not to.

What are your plans for the future?

I make it up as I go along and don’t plan for the future. I will stay in the civil service unless a more interesting offer comes along


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