Dr Brooke Hoskins (Physics 1995) is a proud alumna of Imperial. From the Civil Service to running a portfolio business delivering critical systems to the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, in Brooke’s experience, the career opportunities that follow a degree in physics are varied and rewarding.

We caught up with Brooke to find out where life has taken her since she was a student at the College.

Why did you choose to study physics? 

I was always good at maths as a subject, and I liked that physics allowed me to apply maths to the real world. 

What was the best part of your studies and what was the most challenging?

One of the best parts was making so many friends at Imperial who are still in my life today, 25 years on.

A challenging aspect was dealing with the concepts of quantum mechanics! Also, being one of only nine women on the course was tough at times.

Were you involved in any extra-curricular activities? 

I enjoyed playing netball outside of studying. 

What is your fondest memory of your time here?

I met my husband at Imperial, so I’d better make that my fondest memory! 

Do you have a favourite place at Imperial and why?

Whilst not strictly within College grounds, I’ve always loved Hyde Park. In the park, it’s possible to completely forget that you’re in the middle of London. The views across the Serpentine are fantastic in all seasons too.

Tell us about your education and / or career journey since graduating from Imperial.

I followed my physics degree with a PhD in physiology at Magdalen College, University of Oxford.

Next, I joined the Civil Service Fast Stream, later moving into the defence industry where I’ve stayed for nearly 20 years. I now run a systems business within BAE Systems, which turns over £250m a year and has >1000 employees. We deliver mission critical systems to the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force as well as other governments around the world.  

What does a typical day look like for you now?

In running a portfolio business, there isn’t really a typical day! I love this though. My days range from discussing the strategic direction of the business and understanding market and competitor trends, to working my way through tricky delivery challenges.

Some days I’m negotiating with our Unions or looking at how we nurture our talent to provide the skills we need for the future. I get to meet our customers and understand how our products help to keep them safe. I explore how we can evolve our customers or how we can develop new technologies, enabling them to counter the ever-changing threats that they face. Some conversations are deeply technical, while others focused around people and how we may do our best for them as both individuals and as an organisation.  

What have been your career highlights and lowlights so far?

Highlight: Winning a massive bid that I had led over three years, which changed the shape of the organisation I was working for. 

Lowlight: Moving to a new company only to discover that the role I had gone to take no longer existed... It worked out alright in the end though! 

How has what you learnt at Imperial helped you in your career so far?

Some days I directly apply my physics degree to my work, but for the most part I benefit from having learned the ability to take on a difficult problem and persevere through it.  

What are your plans for the future?

I love my job and I’m determined to grow the business I am currently running!

What would be your advice for current students?

It doesn’t matter if you don’t have clear career plans. Get a broad range of experiences and grasp hold of opportunities when they come, even if they might seem a bit left field.  

What would be your advice to students considering studying physics at Imperial?

Physics gives you a strong basis to pursue careers in a range of areas. Even if you don’t stick with a technical career, the analytical skills you pick up will serve you well in whatever you go on to do later.  

What makes you proud to be an Imperial alumnus?

Imperial is a global top ten university with a world-class reputation in science, engineering, business, and medicine. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

To all of the girls and young women out there wondering if they should study physics or pursue a career in STEM – go for it!  There is no reason why you cannot do just as well as (if not better than), any of the boys and young men on the same paths. The career opportunities that will arise following your degree in physics will be varied and rewarding.