Maddy Cutts

BSc International Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response with Spanish. Graduated 2022.

Tell me a bit about yourself

My name is Maddy Cutts. I graduated from HCRI in 2022 with a BSc International Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response with Spanish. I now work as a Serious Violence Manager for two London Local Authorities, London Borough of Richmond and London Borough of Wandsworth.

How did your degree in IDM shape your career trajectory?

My dissertation topic looked at public discourse around immigration and the government’s use of specific language to normalise the discrimination of immigrants. I still have a major interest in my dissertation topic and in conflict analysis and management.

While the work I do does not look at global conflict it looks at local conflict and I have been able to apply my analytical and critical thinking skills to the local conflict picture, mapping gang dynamics, key nominals in the borough and piecing together how the structure of different systems fits together in the Richmond and Wandsworth landscape.

I think in the end my IDMHR degree led me to the role I am in now, even if in an indirect way. I have strategic oversight and work in problem solving on almost a daily basis, using broader knowledge of the global on the local scale. The local is so unbelievably important in the success of a population and without local intervention nothing would work at its full potential.

What were the biggest challenges or obstacles you faced entering the job market after graduation? How did you overcome them?

I found it difficult entering the job market in 2022 as there weren’t that many posts available due to the funding cuts that many companies and organisations were carrying out. Additional to this, I knew I didn’t want to work in a corporate environment, while I knew in my first job, I wouldn’t get the luxury of having everything I could want in a job that was one thing I was not willing to back down on. This meant that the pool of jobs got even smaller, and the public sector is always competitive.

Despite this, I think that perseverance helped me a lot and being open to a variety of jobs, not just the ones I thought I wanted. I ended up getting through the initial application stage in over 20 jobs and was only offered 2 in the end. From there the biggest decision for me was what did I want my work environment to look like and which team I thought I would be able to fit into best.

What steps did you take to enhance your employability and how did they contribute to your career development? I noticed that you did a lot of volunteering, received the Stellify award, and did an internship- were these useful in applications, cover letters, interviews etc.?

I completed the Stellify award and did an internship as part of my Spanish minor. I think these things certainly enhanced my job applications and gave me tangible examples of challenges I had faced in a workplace environment.

I would say that the focus is not so much on the award but what was achieved, taken away or gained from the experience of volunteering. For me it allowed me to engage with vulnerable people, provide evidence that I could deal with high tension situations and disclosures, and that I was able to demonstrate empathy around people who were going through difficult situations.

My internship at IKEA solidified for me that I did not want to work in the corporate sector. However, working in a foreign country, where I was not a native speaker, in a corporate setting, shortly following the pandemic, allowed me to gain lots of experiences which I later referenced in several interviews, including the one which allowed me to get to my position today.

Can you describe a typical day or week in your role as a Serious Violence Manager?

I usually spend the first couple of hours of my day answering emails, whether that’s from the Met Police or any of our other partners such as Social Care, Public Health, Housing etc. I also start every day by going through overnight crime reports provided by police.

I will have multi-agency meetings or risk briefings, this usually involves the review of highest risk cases related to Vulnerability and Exploitation (usually young people 0-25 who are at risk of or experiencing county lines, gangs, drug dealing, criminal exploitation or sexual exploitation).

Other meetings include panels about specific cases, location-based meetings to consider the risk that a specific location poses to a group of specific people, strategic meetings, finances meetings, grant meetings and budget planning meetings.

Additional to the meetings I am the port of call for all partners in relation to the response to violence, whether that is prevention, reduction or response to violence.

I also get to go on occasional site visits, either with the police or to visit community organisations to see where the funding is being spent and assist in providing any guidance or expertise around serious violence.

What is most challenging about your role and what is most rewarding?

The hardest part of my role is the amount of work that can sometimes be happening at once. Additionally, it involves recognising that work stays at work and home life is separate otherwise it can become overwhelming.

There are many rewarding aspects to my job. I love being able to engage with the community and provide them with the resources and capacity to carry out what they are doing. I have also been fortunate enough to meet some of the young people that have been dealt with at high-risk panels who and are actively engaging in trying to move away from whatever behaviour or exploitation they were unfortunately previously involved in.

To meet someone who has been at such a low point in their life, many at a very young age, and to see how much passion and drive they still have is incredible.

What advice would you give to current HCRI students looking to enter the job market?

Be proactive in your job search but to remember not to be too hard on yourself. The right job will come your way eventually, but sometimes it takes some time to get there. I ended up in the job I am in now in part by chance, and I never would’ve guessed 1 year ago that this is where I would end up and that I would enjoy it.

I would also say ask questions, ask your lecturers, other students, careers supervisors and alumni what their experience has been and if they know of any opportunities as you never know what jobs might be just round the corner.