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Alex Little

Visiting Scholar, Alcalá University in Madrid

What did you do after graduation?
I did a masters in software development, then worked for a bank as a programmer, but it wasn't really creative enough for me, so I moved into educational technology, working as a web developer/programmer and researcher for the Open University.
I then left the OU to spend 2 years working at Mekelle University in northern Ethiopia, training teachers in how they can use technology in their teaching and advising the ICT team on how to improve the IT infrastructure.

What is your current position?
I'm based in Alcalá University in Madrid as a visiting scholar, doing programme management for elearning and ICT projects in Ethiopia and other countries.
I am also director and co-founder of a not for profit company Digital Campus, specialising in technology for education and public health for emerging countries.

What does your current role involve?
My job is extremely varied, as I work with a very small team (5 people) on a large number of diverse technology-related projects, from developing mobile health applications for use in rural areas to elearning training for university staff to setting up ICT infrastructure for supporting university students. Although I spent a long time as a programmer, I'm now quite removed from the day-to-day programming, so I work as a bridge between the programmers and the non-technical or academic staff.

Do you use the knowledge you gained from your studies in your job?
Certainly. The skills I gained with respect to logical thinking and approaches to problem solving have been extremely valuable.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?
The defining moment of my career so far was certainly when I decided to go to Ethiopia. It was a huge and risky step, to leave a comfortable, secure and relatively well paid job to take a volunteer job in a country I had no real knowledge about. But I have absolutely no regrets as it has opened up a huge range of opportunities. Although I enjoyed my previous job, I'd been there for almost 8 years and I needed a bigger challenge.

How do you think that maths graduates would benefit from following your chosen career?
I think my career highlights the huge range of opportunities there are for maths graduates. I get to travel to countries and meet new people that otherwise I would have no experience of. The types of projects I work on have a really visible impact on peoples lives. Working in Africa I can have an impact that I would never be able to have if I worked in similar fields in Europe.

Why did you choose to study maths?
Mainly because it's such a core subject for so many careers. Studying maths you're not going to restrict your future job options. It's a well respected subject to have studied.
I find maths (especially pure maths) really fascinating, having a solid mathematical background is critical for so many scientific and other subject areas.

What are your favourite memories of studying at Leeds?
Being from a small, conservative city (Winchester), Leeds gave me the chance to meet people from much broader range of backgrounds than I would have otherwise have met. My best memories are with my fellow students and friends.

What do you think appeals most to students studying at Leeds’ School of Mathematics?
The reputation of the University, the subject area and the city itself all combine to make make it very appealing option.

What would you say to other students thinking of coming to Leeds University?
The combination of Leeds as a city/location and the subject area make it great choice for studying your degree.