Having started out in UCFB’s first cohort ten years ago, Jacob Harrison is now Business Development Manager at Premier League champions Manchester City. Joining the club shortly after graduating in 2014, he then went to media production company StreamAMG for two years before returning to the Etihad Stadium, this time as team manager.

Here, he tells us about the role and how, ten years on, he’s still using material learnt in his BA (Hons) Football Business & Media degree…

Tell us about your role as Business Development Manager at Manchester City and how you landed it.

This is actually my second stint at City – one of my first roles after graduation was in this same sales department, though I left to pursue an opportunity I couldn’t refuse. Returning to City was a no-brainer, I knew the Head of Sales from my involvement in UK ice hockey – it was just a question of waiting for the right opening in his team. Essentially, my role is to generate revenue through the sale of matchday hospitality packages, VIP experiences and a few other commercial bits and pieces.

Having been at the club for over four years, what have been some of the highlights so far?

I’m fortunate that the last few seasons have been some of the most successful any club could hope for. The Champions League Final in Porto was so special, even if the result wasn’t what we’d have hoped for. If I had to single out one particular game, I’d pick the 2018/19 FA Cup Final. I was helicoptered down to Wembley with a client to watch us beat Watford 6-0 to secure the domestic treble. It was really quite surreal!

Despite starting at UCFB ten years ago, are you still using material from your BA (Hons) Football Business & Media programme?

Certainly. Understanding the nuances of the media’s involvement and influence in the wider football industry effects my day-to-day job. Having a deeper understanding of the finer details around things like broadcast schedules is essential for me when helping my clients with logistics around bookings for games.

During your degree, you worked as a Hospitality Executive at Burnley FC. How important do you think having this experience was in securing your role at Manchester City?

Particularly in the first instance shortly after graduating, direct experience in the operational delivery of matchday hospitality products and experiences was crucial to securing a role here at City. In my opinion, there’s no substitute for experience in a role like this.

Reflecting on your career since graduating, what has your degree given you in terms of opportunity and experience? Would you be where you are now without it?

The lecturers never thanked me for it, but I maintained throughout my time at UCFB that I wasn’t at the institution for a degree, I was there for a foot-in-the-door of the only industry I wanted to work in. That of course meant academic studies along the way, which for me were a necessary evil, but the access to all the extra-curricular programmes, work experience opportunities and the chance to develop an impressive network are almost entirely responsible for me being where I am today.

How did you find your time at UCFB?

I enjoyed it. As I’ve briefly alluded to in a previous answer, by the close of my A Levels, I’d had enough of education and wasn’t even considering university; UCFB is probably the only place that could’ve changed my mind on that. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, being in the inaugural intake meant there were no reviews or referrals or anything I could assess; it was something of a leap of faith. I have some very fond memories of those three years and still see some familiar faces around the Etihad Campus which is nice.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to study at UCFB?

Say “yes” to every opportunity that presents itself – and go out of your own way to create your own opportunities. Try your hand at as much as you can – some of it you’ll love, some of it you’ll hate, but it all looks good on a CV and will help you narrow the field when it comes to deciding what you want your career focus to be.