Click on a job title to find out more about the people in the following roles:

Sundip Gill

Sundip Gill - Press and PR Executive

I joined NFER at the end of March 2017, having worked in Birmingham as a social media specialist and blogger. I wanted to make sure the next job I applied for was a role that I could progress in and so I was fortunate to come across the role of ‘Press and PR Executive’ here at NFER.

I have always been interested in expressing my creativity through writing. In 2006, I started my journalism degree at Staffordshire University. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and blogging were becoming popular and I started exploring how you could use social media for marketing purposes.

Although I enjoyed working in social media, I wanted to continue strengthening my writing skills and editorial judgement so I stepped ‘into the dark side’ (as my tutors would call it) and focused solely on a career in PR. In my current role, I can build on my previous experience of liaising with the media and pitching ideas and stories to secure media coverage. Being close to London means you can go and meet journalists and editors face-to-face, which really helps build relationships. But it’s not just all about writing press releases; I adapt my copywriting skills to write newsletters, blogs, social media content, website copy and features for different audiences. It’s also important to know your industry so I spend a lot of time reading the education sector press. This helps me to promote the work of the research teams as I can focus on what readers will understand and value.

Before I joined NFER, I didn’t have a lot of experience in the education sector but I’m glad that this didn’t put me off. Over time, with help from NFER colleagues, being proactive and learning what’s happening in the sector has helped me build my knowledge. I’m always learning and every day presents something new. Raising NFER’s visibility is one of my key objectives so I’m always on the lookout for ways to raise NFER’s profile, especially in our eight key topic areas. One of my favourite topics to work on is the School Workforce area. It’s an important issue in education and sharing our findings, knowing they can make a difference, is really rewarding.

For me, a supportive work environment is a must and I’m pleased to say that we have that here, not just in my department but across the Foundation. Being part of a great team makes my job more enjoyable and knowing that I can grow and learn from my peers is an added bonus. Working in a communications role means I get to spend time with people outside of my own department and I have developed good relationships across the organisation. It’s a pleasant environment to work in and you are never short of biscuits and cakes!

When I’m not working… I love being lazy in front of the television!

At school I was good at… sport. In secondary school, I was part of the girls’ dance, football, badminton and hockey teams. I was an active child but whether I was good at it or not, you’d have to ask the rest of the team!

I wanted to be… everything from a police officer (I was obsessed with the ITV drama ‘The Bill’) to a football WAG!

Gemma Aukett

Gemma Aukett - Head of Product Strategy and Marketing

I joined NFER as Head of Product Strategy and Marketing in October 2017. I lead the product marketing team and am responsible for the development, ongoing review and implementation of NFER’s education resources strategy. My role includes market research to identify opportunities, developing business cases and overseeing the developments to ensure they meet user needs and to deliver resources for schools.

Following a degree in Sociology, I began my career in marketing almost 12 years ago working for a small company that develops creative software for schools. With a growing desire to remain in the education sector, and build on my range of marketing skills, I then joined a supplementary education franchise and subsequently an education publisher.

I had known of NFER for a number of years before applying for this role and knew it was respected for the quality of its work. Moving to a not-for-profit organisation had great appeal, and I love working for a charity where the surplus is reinvested in further research and developments to make a genuine difference in schools.

Product marketing at NFER sits within our Sales, Marketing and Impact team, a multi-disciplinary team of friendly and dedicated professionals who all support each other. We benefit from inspirational yet personable leadership and are empowered to put forward new ideas and drive NFER’s visibility and impact forward.

At NFER, teams across the organisation work together on projects, so one day I may be working with our Centre for Assessment to scope out opportunities for new products and the next liaising with our Research and Product Operations team on how to enhance the experience for our customers. Here you’re always surrounded by experienced and knowledgeable colleagues who care greatly for what NFER is working towards.

I gained all my marketing experience ‘on the job’ rather than through a qualification, and found working in-house within smaller teams gave me a great opportunity to gain deep experience right across the marketing mix. If you choose to go down the route of building your skills and experience on the job, my best advice is to identify inspiring people around you who have achieved what you aspire to achieve, and who may be open to coaching you along your career.

Outside of NFER I study and practise Cognitive Hypnotherapy and Neuro-linguistic Programming. You will therefore often find me either coaching other professionals or absorbed in a TED Talk.

This is a really exciting time to join NFER as the new brand and long-term strategies present great opportunities for personal and professional growth. If you want to work for an organisation that is a force for good and in an environment where you can really make an impact, this is a great place to be.

Nafisa Ishaq

Nafisa Ishaq - Digital Marketing Manager

I joined NFER in October 2018, where I work within the Sales, Marketing and Impact (SMI) team. I have 18 years’ work experience within Web and IT services. I have worked on a range of projects including: web transformation; engaging customers to be part of a self-service initiative; Ecommerce; and the end-to-end website migration of 64 sites for 17 European countries which included translating them into the different languages and building and designing a robust and user-friendly intranet site. Having experience of working for both the private and public sector has helped me gain the skills that are required to prepare me for the challenges of this amazing role.

As the Digital Marketing Manager, I manage the day-to-day running and maintenance of the NFER website and intranet. I work very closely with third-party suppliers and my internal colleagues to guarantee our website is performing to high standards with creative and engaging content to attract more visitors. I review all web development work, prioritising the most important projects, and am currently working very closely with the IT team to build, maintain and design our new international website.

The staff at NFER, especially our Directors, Heads of Centres and the Chief Executive herself, have an amazing attitude towards work. The excitement, passion and ambition they have is commendable and very contagious. It makes me so proud that I am part of this organisation.

Family is important to me and it is hard juggling a demanding role, with its pressures, challenges and stresses, with maintaining a good work-life balance. However, the flexible working scheme at NFER allows me to enjoy my time with my family as well as enjoying my career, thus making me a happier, more relaxed and enjoyable person to be around; well that’s how my family are describing me now! This has inspired me to go beyond and do more.

I work with amazing colleagues that are fun, helpful, engaging, have a ‘can do attitude’ and who above all love cakes and biscuits. What else can one ask for!

Alex Blakey

Alex Blakey – Digital Marketing Executive

Since 2012, I have worked in a variety of PR, Marketing and Communications roles, both in a paid and voluntary capacity, but in October 2014, NFER became my current home. Prior to this, I worked in a similar role at a careers guidance organisation in the West Country, where I grew up.

Why do I enjoy my role? In short, it’s the variety. In a week, I could be working on a social media campaign for a forthcoming report, testing new web pages, editing images in Adobe Creative Suite, training colleagues and much more. Every day, however, tends to start with me reading various news sources, and checking to see if anything on our Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn requires further action.

I have worked on a wide variety of projects at NFER in my time here. I am very proud of my contribution to The Teacher Workforce final report, published in October 2018. Here, I supported the development of the social media campaign, which included a live stream of a presentation and created a webpage, which had visual links to both the final report and the research overview.

The Sales, Marketing and Impact team at NFER is a small one, but that means we’re close-knit and support one another. If I have any questions, my colleagues don’t hesitate to answer and we all get excellent direction from the management team. We also place an emphasis on doing things outside the office to build on our working relationships, such as going out for dinner or going bowling.


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