Isobel completed her BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics in 2018.

I grew up near Guildford in Surrey. I’ve always been interested in current affairs, and studying PPE was the obvious choice for me. I was initially put off Oxford by what I’d read in the papers, but I changed my mind after visiting. When I first walked into Somerville I immediately loved the friendly and open atmosphere. Closing the gap in educational attainment is hugely important to me, so the fact that Somerville was founded to give opportunities to women and that it continues to support access work was a perfect fit. I’ve worked with University access events and gone back to my own Sixth Form College to give a presentation about studying at Oxford. This year, I’ll return to my secondary school to talk to students there about university and Oxbridge. I’m looking forward to giving back to a community which helped lay the foundation for my recent achievements, and I hope I can inspire students to pursue educational opportunities which they might otherwise think are out of their reach.

I’ve enjoyed my academic work so much, especially studying British Political History since 1900 and seeing the impact of the past on current political issues. I’ve also had the chance to develop other interests, and as JCR Sports Officer I helped to organize the first Somerville Sports Day to give students and fun and inclusive outlet for their energies! I’ve volunteered in a local school, helping to run after-school revision sessions. I’ve also completed an internship as a Learning Assistant at the South Oxfordshire Food and Education Academy. During the summer, I had a ten-week internship at the Financial Conduct Authority followed by a place on their Supervision Graduate Training Programme.

During the second year of the scheme, I completed 6 month rotations with the FCA’s Competition and Economics division, where I led on assessing the vulnerability of consumers who use Claims Management Companies; and the Wholesale Authorisations department, where I assessed and determined applications from a range of wholesale market participants seeking to gain FCA authorisation, or vary their permissions.

I am now on the final months of my graduate scheme at the Financial Conduct Authority, which I am spending on external secondment at Keefe, Bruyette and Woods, a full service investment bank specialising in the financial services sector. I am working in KBW’s Equity Research department as a junior analyst, helping to cover French banks, European investment banks and asset managers. In June 2019 I passed my CFA level 1 exam and I will hopefully be able to sit my level 2 exam this December, coronavirus restrictions permitting!

The support and encouragement I received from the Thatcher Development Programme has helped me increased my confidence and given me practical help with applications and networking. Having a Michael Bishop Foundation Thatcher Scholarship has maximized my opportunities and helped me focus on my long-term goal of having a beneficial impact on the world.