Alex Mitcham (MSci Mathematics 2019) is currently working as a Streaming Data Analyst at Sony Music. Reflecting back on his Imperial journey, Alex recounts learning a lot about himself and being inspired by his peers.
Alex shares his story today as part of a Black in Maths initiative, for which Alex has participated as an alumni event panellist. The programme is designed to inspire, inform and provide role models for current students in the department, to support their equality and diversity efforts and to raise the profile of opportunities for students from all backgrounds.
Why did you choose Imperial as the place to follow your interest in STEM subjects?
I fell in love with London and all of the energy the city holds. Imperial was the perfect way for me to experience London and get an education from one of the world’s best universities at the same time.
What did you learn during your time at Imperial, in class or out?
The most important thing I learnt about was myself. I got to explore who I am, what my interests are, what I believe in – and that’s something that evolved and transformed during my time at Imperial, making me who I am today.
Who did you find inspiring at Imperial and why?
My friends inspired me throughout my time at Imperial. I met so many talented people from all over the world who played such an important role in my time at university. They were able to both enjoy themselves and grow as people, all whilst completing challenging degrees, something I have always admired.
What is your fondest memory of your time here?
Why do you feel it’s important to participate in events like the Black in Maths alumni panel?
There are no Black mathematicians in the books we read, nor Black professors teaching the courses we take, nor other Black students in the lecture halls we sit in. So firstly, events like Black in Maths demonstrate that Black in maths can exist and will hopefully help Black maths students realise that they’re not alone.
These sorts of events are also pivotal in starting conversations that have largely been avoided for too long. It’s vital for Black students to see that the institution they’re a part of is actively trying to bring about change.
What advice would you give to those from underrepresented backgrounds who are thinking about studying a STEM subject, particularly at Imperial?
Be unapologetically you. Don’t be phased by the fact that you may be different, wear your difference proudly. Find and associate yourself with people who understand, support, and celebrate you.
Please tell us a bit about the work you’re doing now.
I’m a Streaming Data Analyst at Sony Music, home to artists such as Beyoncé, Harry Styles, and Alicia Keys. I aim to understand the nuances of Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and TikTok to optimise the streaming potential for our artists.
How has what you learnt at Imperial helped you in your career so far?
Imperial equipped me with great analytics and coding skills that have been essential for my role so far. Outside of maths, going through the process of meeting so many new people at university and being involved in a number of different societies definitely helped my people skills - crucial for such a social industry. At Imperial I was part of the African Caribbean society, Radio society, plus I played football.
What has been a career highlight so far?
I’m very lucky in that my job has taken me to a lot of fun events and has allowed me to meet a lot of cool people. I once went to Alicia Keys’ album playback and (badly) sang ‘You Don’t Know My Name’ next to Jorja Smith and Chris Martin – I will never forget that! But in general, I’ll always be super grateful that my role involves looking at artists and songs that I’m a big fan of.
What are your plans for the future?
A life in music.
What makes you proud to be an Imperial alumnus?
I’ll always be thankful that I graduated with so many wonderfully exceptional people. When I think about my friends, the amazing things they do and the journey we’ve all made from our first day at Imperial - it makes me so proud that we shared our university experience.
Do you have a favourite quote or saying?
Don’t ever go with the flow - be the flow.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I’m on Instagram! - @alexmitcham.