Debbie Smith

Debbie Smith

Debbie Smith

(1979)
Balliol Old Member

I matriculated in 1979, one of the first two female chemists at Balliol. I’m now a freelance PR specialising in technology and healthcare. I love the flexibility of my job, meeting new people, learning about new technologies and working with clients to communicate with a wide variety of audiences.

How did I get here? I applied for chemistry jobs towards the end of my degree and discovered I’d need a DPhil, so stayed on for three more years for a DPhil in Inorganic Chemistry. I decided to focus on marketing and so joined British Aerospace on a management training scheme, spending time in different departments and developing a range of business skills before working on European Space Agency programmes. After another similar role I was made redundant, and decided to combine my technical background and writing skills by joining a technology PR agency. I found my chemistry degree gave me the ability to quickly understand any technology that came my way and continually ask questions until I had the information I needed. This led me into both in-house and agency roles working for international clients, including Marketing Communications Director for a major US telecoms company. Four years ago I decided to set up my own business and have worked on communications strategies in areas including pharmacy, behavioural optometry, IT and food waste valorisation.

Balliol was the ideal college for me - informal, friendly and with a strong academic record, with a good mix of students from all backgrounds and in all subjects. With three chemistry tutors and seven to eight chemistry students every year there was plenty of support and great collaboration between different years - always someone to ask about practicals! I’m still friends with some of my fellow chemists.