Tom Danaher

Politics, Philosophy and Economics BA

What is your current role?

Tom Danaher, Politics, Philosophy and Economics BA
Tom Danaher was looking for a degree which would be highly regarded by graduate employers.

I graduated from Manchester in the summer of 2015 and joined Smith & Williamson’s graduate programme in London that September. I qualified as a chartered Investment Manager in 2017. I was promoted to Associate Director in July 2019.

Our team manages investments on behalf of private clients. These include stocks, bonds, property, commodities and other alternative investments. As well as managing a book of clients, we also have specific areas of research expertise and contribute ideas to the firm’s investment process.

Why did you choose to study at Manchester?

I have had an interest in current affairs for as long as I can remember. PPE is the perfect course for those who are interested in the world around them.

I had not studied Philosophy before starting at Manchester, but this proved to be one of the most fascinating parts of the degree.

Did you always know you wanted to do the career you're in?

No! When I started at Manchester, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do. While I was at school, I wanted to be a lawyer. It was only after completing internships during my time at university that a career working in the financial markets seemed right for me.

During my second and third years, I worked with the Careers Team closely. They helped me out with internship applications and interview preparations, and I am very grateful to them.

How did your course set you up for your career path?

A degree in PPE sets you up fantastically well for a career that requires information gathering, decision-making and communicating. The different paths that our PPE cohort has taken since leaving university provide perfect evidence of this.

In my role, I spend a lot of time analysing information to decide how we invest our clients’ hard-earned wealth. Should we invest in the stock of Company A or Company B? I need to communicate those decisions clearly to clients, so the oratory and writing skills I picked up at university are useful, too.

What was the most surprising takeaway from your course?

Opinions change! I started university with a steely determination that my views were infallible and not subject to change. Nothing could be further from the truth and many of my opinions on how societies function changed significantly during my time at university, and during the period since I left university, too.

I look back on my time at Manchester fondly and I continue to follow the work of some of the lecturers who taught me. I guess that’s a pretty good sign that I chose the right course for me.

What advice would you give to future students?

Throw yourself into life at university… Manchester is the best place to live a varied and fulfilling student life. The PPE Society was a great way to meet lifelong friends. You spend a lot of time with your cohort during those years so do make an effort with these people early on.

Try and maintain a network of friends when you leave university. We had such a fantastic intake. I am still good friends with many of the “class of 2015” -  indeed, a number of us work within walking distance from each other in London now. We even had our first PPE wedding last year!