Nicola Hughes

Nicola is a Business Development Manager for Amazon Transport Services. She completed her BA in Theology and Religions.

On life at Manchester

A photo of Nicola Hughes

Whilst studying at The University of Manchester I was a member of the University Air Squadron which meant I was an Officer Cadet in the RAF – when I wasn’t studying or in lectures I would go on adventurous training expeditions or take flying lessons.

The UAS advertised itself as the best University society you can join and I’d certainly agree with that description!

I was unusual within the Air Squadron in that I was studying a humanities degree (the majority were studying maths, physics or aerospace engineering etc). However, this unlikely combination of regimented training alongside the study of theological concepts and ideas gave me both analytical and interpersonal skills that have been instrumental in guiding my career development.

On graduation

After graduating, I was awarded a place on the Manchester Masters programme – this was a unique ‘graduate programme’ that gave 10 students a year the opportunity to live and work in the City whilst also studying for an MSc in Business.

Here I realised my passion for Marketing and Communications and continuing my interest in Religions I worked on the Religions Programme for BBC Radio Manchester on Sunday mornings.

My first role after university was for a Christian Charity as Marketing Executive. Missing aviation (and never having taken a gap year and wanting to see the world) I then trained to be Cabin Crew with British Airways.

After seeing a lot of countries (and hotel rooms) with my experience in marketing and charities I was able to move into a role in corporate responsibility at British Airways, fundraising for and promoting their charity partnership with Comic Relief. I then worked in various roles within British Airways most recently working for its cargo entity IAG Cargo.

I was working within the commercial team when COVID struck and within a matter of days my role changed entirely to enable cargo charter flights of PPE on what should have been passenger aircraft into the UK for essential deliveries for the NHS.

On what I do now

Along with many of my colleagues I took redundancy during the pandemic and was then lucky enough to get a new role at Amazon where I am currently working as Business Development Manager for Amazon Freight.

Throughout my career progression to date I regularly appreciate and utilise the skills and knowledge gained from studying Religions and Theology in that I have a wide understanding of cultures and societies and ability to analyse information and construct arguments.

On choosing Religions and Theology

Most other Theology courses at the time were heavily Christian based. The course at UoM had modules from all religions and none was weighted higher than any other in terms of importance.

On predicting what your career would be now

I would never have predicted that I would end up working in logistics. However, the same interests that encouraged me to study Theology and Religions are the same interests that keep me fascinated in global logistics.

Why are things happening in the world, what is influencing changes, how are people’s beliefs and motivations impacting outcomes? etc there is an unexpected similarity between the questions you’d ask in a Theology degree and how you’d try to understand business marketing, global trade and logistics.

On my advice for other students

Don’t be closed minded or presume you know what you want to be/do. Study Theology as a pleasure not as a means to an end. Enjoy those three years, they will be enjoyable! And what comes after will follow, whether you worry or not!