Career stories

Henry Evans: Project Analyst

Nike Hardman: Head of Research Engagement

Nina Callard: Head of Internal Communications


Henry Evans: Project Analyst

CRUK scheme graduate

"I’m a Project Analyst in the Corporate Resources Projects team. I manage a cross-charity project tackling how we approach data security and data protection at CRUK.  I have been at CRUK for 4 years now. My career journey had always been fairly trial-and-error; it was after following a series of adventures, jobs and placements, that I was drawn to the CRUK graduate scheme.

Over the two year scheme I worked on four different placements. The first was in Finance Projects and Internal Comms, migrating an external function in to CRUK and working on other projects.  My second placement was in Treasury, where I delivered a review of CRUK’s bank account structure and BACS payment processes.  My third placement was in Strategy and Research Funding, delivering a strategic review of our pancreatic and oesophageal cancer research.  My final placement was in the Stratified Medicine programme team, developing a business case.

Coming from a non-science background, I found that I had a steep learning curve in the final two placements.  I had to get my head around the science before I could prove that I could operate effectively in an unfamiliar environment. During the graduate scheme I used my network to support my learning and also to find out more about other people’s career journeys. 

I built a really good relationship with a programme manager and talked to him on a few occasions about project management.  I was really fortunate as at the start of my final placement a role became available in the Corporate Projects team.  I knew that this was the role for me! I got the job and started in August 2012.

The graduate scheme has a great structure and you will have the opportunity to contribute from your first day and your first placement.  I would definitely recommend that you invest in building good relationships and networks – you never know when they might come in useful! The size of the organisation means that you can work across all functions; this provides you with variety in the work that you do and ensures that you are always challenged!"

Nike Hardman: Head of Research Engagement

CRUK scheme graduate

"I joined CRUK in 2003 on the Fundraising & Marketing graduate scheme and was lucky enough to have a broad range of placement (not just in F&M). This has given me an appetite for variety in my career.

Following the graduate scheme, my desire to keep finding new experiences led me to take a sabbatical, working for Greenpeace in Sydney and the American Cancer Society in New York. I returned to CRUK into HR, in the Learning & Development team, where I took on several different roles and stayed for nearly 3 years. During my time in L&D, I secured a secondment as a Senior National Events Manager within the Events team. When this was due to finish, the role of Head of Volunteering was being advertised, also as a secondment. I couldn’t really move from one secondment to another, so I asked if there was an option for the role to be permanent and when I was successful, I was able to take on the role permanently.

I have always tried to make my own luck to secure roles that I want. For example, on the graduate scheme, I once tried to write my own role profile for a job I wanted – it didn’t work, but if you don’t ask you don’t get!

My next role was to lead the Local Engagement and Development team in addition to the Volunteering team on a temporary basis, which led me to my current position as Head of Research Engagement in Strategy & Research Funding. I’ve had a wide variety of roles across the organisation and I would consider myself a generalist rather than a specialist. 

There are many opportunities to move within the organisation. I believe in being open minded and prepared to take on roles even if you don’t have experience in that area. I think we need to put trust in our transferrable skills and continue to encourage people to move sideways.

One thing I’ve found immensely helpful throughout my career has been having access to a mentor; these individuals particularly helped me to be brave in taking my sabbatical and putting myself forward for new roles. Ultimately you drive your own career but it is useful to have a support network. I would encourage others on the graduate scheme to get the most out of their relationship with their mentor. Building networks during your time on the scheme is so important and is a great way of opening up your opportunities, both on the scheme and when you are looking for your substantive role."

Nina Callard: Head of Internal Communications

CRUK scheme graduate

"I originally wanted to be a scientist. After my degree I worked for a year as a research assistant, which I loved, and then did a PhD in neuroscience. During the PhD, however, I realised that straight research wasn’t really my thing at all. But working in the lab can keep you in a bit of a bubble, so I had no clue what I wanted to do instead.

Then I went to a presentation about science in the media by Cancer Research UK. The presentation was incredibly thought provoking, but most of all I was overwhelmed by the passion the speakers showed for CRUK. I spoke to the speakers afterwards and found out about the graduate scheme. As they say, the rest is history!

The graduate scheme was perfect for me – an entry point into a great organisation with brilliant and passionate people and where I had two years to get to know different areas of the charity and gather experience in an environment outside of a lab. It also gave me a real insight into what a fantastic organisation this is to work for. My role now is about passing on the passion about the importance of the work that CRUK does to our staff. I have learnt so many transferable skills along the way. For example, most of my projects on the graduate scheme contained an element of strategy, enabling me to develop my strategic thinking skills. It was a great experience and helped me shape the role I have now. I was fortunate that, after my last placement on the scheme, a position opened up in one of the teams I had worked in. I applied for the role and got the position of “Senior Manager for Impact Evaluation”. The work and the team were brilliant and continued to reinforce my enthusiasm for the organisation.

After eight months, the position of Head of Portfolio Information became available.  In this role I managed a brilliant team of passionate, enthusiastic and talented people who had an important role in inspiring our staff about the work that we do and enabling them to be ambassadors for our research.  After only eight months as a senior manager before that, it was quite a steep learning curve to become a Head, but I think the fact that I really cared about and believed in what the role was about helped me a lot.

After four years in that role, I moved to the Fundraising and Marketing Directorate as Head of Internal Comms, which is testament to the transferable skills I have learnt in my previous roles.

As a whole, the graduate scheme has been really influential in shaping my career.  I learnt so much about the Charity and was able to build-up my internal network, which continues to be useful to this day."

Applications are now closed

We're no longer taking applications to our Graduate Scheme but take a look at other ways you can get involved with CRUK. 


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