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An interview with Clare Talbot-Jones, your new Deputy Chair of Convocation

8 November 2022

We caught up with modern languages graduate and North East-based business leader Clare Talbot-Jones to find out more about her ambitions for her term as the new Deputy Chair of Convocation.

Clare is a Newcastle University graduate twice over, first studying French and Spanish before returning to complete a PGCE in 2005. Today, she is a North East-based business owner, charity leader and mentor passionate about empowering women facing intersectional challenges.

Hi Clare. Congratulations on being appointed our new Deputy Chair of Convocation! To introduce yourself to those in our alumni community who don’t know you, can you start by telling us a bit about how you came to study at Newcastle?

My first visit to Newcastle was when I was 13 – my older sister is also a Newcastle graduate and was studying at the Medical School at the time. The city seemed steeped in history and full of vibrancy, promise and opportunity.

When it was time to look at degree options, Newcastle’s Modern Language courses caught my eye. I like diversity, I’m curious and open-minded – and Newcastle’s course would allow me to explore languages alongside a variety of topics from history, politics and gender.

I’m an independent person and so was initially reluctant to follow my sister to Newcastle. I took a year out to explore options, but in the end I knew Newcastle was where I wanted to be. Since then, Newcastle has held a special place in my heart – I even got engaged on the Millennium Bridge!

What are your favourite memories from your time as a student?

I never took the beauty of the campus for granted and always appreciated the stunning beauty of the Quad when I came out of lectures in the Old Library Building.

I loved the energy of the lecture halls and have fond memories of defending my opinions while being challenged to think from new perspectives. I really enjoyed my course in general and actually reinstated the Modern Foreign Languages Ball as a way of contributing, building community and celebrating our achievements.

And of course, it would be remiss of me to not mention nights out on ‘The Boat’ and at World Headquarters!

I have a big appreciation and love of Newcastle University and the North East. I’m excited to support the University’s community and make an impact!

And what about life after your undergraduate degree? What are you most proud of?

After graduating from my French and Spanish degree in 2004, I stayed on at Newcastle to complete my PGCE and then spent a decade working as a teacher in an independent school.

After having my 2 children I took some time out to re-evaluate what I wanted and what was important to me. A stint working as a childminder spurred an interest in business and the impact it can have on the community. It lit a fire in me!

In 2016 I threw myself into launching my own business, an Insurance Brokerage with my husband. I’m proud to have won multiple awards for this venture, and to have been asked to present at a recent TEDxNewcastleUniversity event on reframing risk. We’re now one of the fastest growing brokerages in the UK.  

I’m most proud of helping people to think differently about risk and making bold decisions. In the past, I’ve been anxious and driven by fear. But looking at my children and how they are so resilient and open to change made me re-evaluate that. That would be my advice for any students or recent graduates reading this: make your choices based on passions, ambitions and values – not fear.

What would you most like to achieve in the role?

When I received the email about the vacancy, the role description was very much within my areas of interest, particularly developing communities and celebrating excellence. As Deputy Chair, I’m committed to being open to what others have to say, to develop our network in a meaningful way and add support and value to the University community.

I have a big appreciation and love of Newcastle University and the North East. I’m excited to support the University’s community and make an impact!

Join us for our 2022 Day of Convocation

We’re excited to announce that our 2022 Meeting of Convocation will be taking place on our Newcastle Helix site on Saturday 26 November. Will you be there?

This is your opportunity to meet your global alumni community – there are now 250,000 of you! Enjoy a tour and lunch at the spectacular Newcastle Helix campus before hearing from the University’s leadership team on our future plans, where you can make your alumni voice heard.

There’ll be plenty of time for mingling and networking too, with a drinks reception at 3SIXTY to close the day - offering the best panoramic views of the city!