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Catching up with... Jan Podsiadly

This month we catch up with Jan Podsiadly (Marketing MA, 1994). He tells us how Kingston helped him to make the successful transition from pop music to marketing.

Jan PodsiadlyWhy did you choose Kingston?

On recommendation from a colleague in the Chartered Institute of Marketing (Surrey branch) and its accessibility from Croydon where I live.

Tell us about your course.

In 1993/94 I took the one-year Marketing MA designed for working people. The coursework and exams were demanding; intellectually and physically. Handwriting a three-hour exam required considerable handwriting practice as I wrote very little by hand at that time. The dissertation was the killer and where a few students fell by the wayside. Lectures and regular attendance had finished and it was a personally motivated slog to complete to the deadline. It was deeply satisfying to do better than my own expectations.

How was the experience of returning to University as a mature student?

Fantastic. Learning from the range of experience and knowledge of students on the course was as much value as the course itself. Most of the other students were also mature so not only did I not feel out of place but I felt in good company.

What do you remember about your time at Kingston? In three words.

Intense, challenging and inspiring.

Are you still in touch with anyone from your Kingston days?

Contact has faded over the 16 years since I left but I would be interested to hear how my contemporaries are doing.

What did you expect to do after graduating? Are you still doing that now?

I had been out of full-time employment for two years before I signed up for the course and hoped it would make me more competitive in the job market and counter my past as a pop singer. My aim was to be a marketing manager. I put 'MA pending' on my CV and secured the next marketing manager job I applied for. I started the job and the course within a week of each other. Although I had the job, the course was a superb support for knowledge and confidence.

Since then I have moved position a few times, each adding a significant chapter to my CV. Currently I am Head of Communications for Queen Elizabeth's Foundation for Disabled People in Leatherhead. It is probably the most rewarding job that I have ever done as there is a great deal of personal satisfaction in working with a charity.

Who was your favourite lecturer and why?

Stavros Kalafatis, who was my tutor. His energy and enthusiasm never wavered. His commitment to helping students was evident and he had a great sense of humour and wicked accent, peeps.

What's your greatest achievement?

Family, without a doubt. As a pop singer, the success of 'Rama Lama Ding Dong' across Europe back in 1978 rates pretty high but that was a joint venture in many ways. The biggest work-based achievement is making the successful transition from pop music to marketing late in life and Kingston University played a significant part in making it happen.

What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?

Unlikely that my 18-year-old self would listen but I would probably say don't try to please everybody, credit isn't free money and pay attention to the small print.

What last made you laugh?

An unintentionally humorous photograph and The Trip, a new TV series featuring Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan.

What's your ideal weekend?

No shopping or household chores. Beyond that anything goes – eating, drinking, some photography, watch Crystal Palace win (not ideal if they lose), some minimal exercise, some loud music. You know the sort of thing.

Tell us something we would never guess about you.

I have given it away a bit with the reference to 'Rama Lama Ding Dong'. My brother (Rocky) and I formed a band called Rocky Sharpe and the Replays and had a modest pop career in the late 70s and early 80s. Seven listings in the Guinness Book of Hit Singles and number one in Bavaria, Cataluña and the Canary Islands. I performed under the alias of Johnny Stud. I have done my penance for that by watching an episode of My Family, with my own family, where Ben Harper chooses to register at a hotel under that name. No stone was left unturned in taking the mickey.  However, my letter bemoaning the fact was letter of the week in the Radio Times and led to an appearance on Never Mind the Buzzcocks. Probably just as embarrassing. My revival is limited to YouTube but I will settle for that.    

You are to live out your final days on a desert island…

Who would you take with you any why? It would have to be my wife and soulmate. Having been together for nearly 28 years I couldn't imagine life without her. Not sure she would want to give up home comforts so I would have to sell the benefits.
What book would you take and why? The thickest dictionary I could find.  Every book is in it.
What movie would you take and why? Any castaway movie or TV series that gives survival tips might be ideal. However for entertainment probably Lord of the Rings (the trilogy, if allowed).
What food item would you take and why? A pair of pigs – to breed. What is life without bacon sandwiches? Oh yes, the bread! Need to work on that one.

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