Lauren Ayers

Before you came to Brookes what did you study and where?

Before I came to Brookes, I studied business administration and marketing at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles.

What made you choose Brookes as a place to study?

At Brookes, the course’s broad subject range—covering everything from planning law to building materials to conservation economics—seemed like the ideal programme for me to bridge the gap between my undergraduate business education and my desired career in conservation. The site visits were also a deciding factor—getting the chance to try thatching, bricklaying, stone-carving and other crafts was an opportunity I knew I wouldn’t get elsewhere. Finally, Brookes’s resources, connections and location are unparalleled—having lectures from industry experts, having access to the Bodleian Library, and being located in a city with fantastic case studies in conservation ultimately made it clear that Brookes was where I wanted to be.

What do/did you think of the course while studying here?

The course was excellent—hard work, but perhaps the most rewarding year of study I’ve had yet. The course tutor’s passion for conservation and dedication to the students showed through in the quality of lectures and site visits, which made the subject matter come alive.

How did your scholarship or bursary enhance your experience of the course?

Being awarded the scholarship allowed me to focus solely on my studies, rather than having to juggle a work schedule and full-time studies simultaneously.

What are the best bits of studying at Brookes?

One of the best bits of studying at Brookes was the people. The course had people from a broad range of backgrounds—architects, historians, surveyors, planners, craftsmen and recent graduates such as myself. Getting to bounce ideas off of my couresmates was a highlight for me. The lecturers and the course tutor were always there to help, and particularly as an international student finding my way, I am eternally grateful for their guidance in adjusting to a new field of study in a foreign country!

What advice do you have for others?

Visit as many places as you can before and during the course—take lots of pictures, and look at buildings and spaces—you’ll discover interesting features that may prove to be good case studies for your coursework! Get to know your coursemates and lecturers, as they will become your contacts in the conservation industry in the future and sometimes even close friends. Time is limited while you’re doing the course, but if you have a chance to go to workshops or events put on by organisations like the SPAB or the Building Limes Forum, it’s an excellent way to get immersed into the conservation world and get ideas for your case studies and dissertation.

After graduating from Brookes what were the next steps for your career and where are you working now?

After finishing the dissertation, I was selected to do a graduate placement in contracts management with Between Time Ltd, a conservation builders in Hertfordshire. Our teams of skilled craftsmen carry out conservation and repair work exclusively on historic buildings, with particular emphasis on plaster, flint, timber framing and brick. I’ve spent part of my time on site trying my hand at plastering and bricklaying, part of my time learning about estimating and specifying programmes of work, and part of my time buying materials, liaising with clients and assisting in project managing jobs.

What achievements are you most proud of since graduating?

I’m proud of earning the Symm Prize for the MSc in Historic Conservation and hope to continue research in this field in the future.

How has the course you studied at Oxford Brookes helped you in your career?

Coming from a business and marketing background, the course helped me to break into the conservation field and was a strong foundation upon which I hope to build my future career.

Are you involved with Oxford Brookes currently? If so, how?

At the moment, I am not directly involved with Oxford Brookes; however I would like to get more involved with the alumni network in the future.

In what way is remaining connected to your alumni network important to you?

Remaining connected to my alumni network is important to me because it’s a great pool of talented individuals who are all as passionate about heritage and conservation as I am, and keeping in contact with my fellow alums keeps me connected to others within the industry.