Where Are You Now?

Gareth Hughes

Gareth Hughes

BA Film and Media Studies 2002

Gareth Hughes uses the power of football to enable social impact change in over 25 cities across the world. As the International Programmes Manager at City Football Group (Manchester City), he manages their Global Foundation Grants and Training internationally.

He explained: “We partner with charity organisations working in challenging communities empowering Young Leaders to make a difference through our ‘Cityzens Giving’ Programme.

“Each year I run a regional summit at Manchester City, bringing over 70 Young People from cities around the world for a week or interactive learning.”

However this year has been challenging for delivering this summit.

“We had to adapt to deliver all our training digitally during the pandemic and deliver an online global summit to 250 Young Leaders,” he said.

Reflecting on his time at the University of Sunderland, Gareth said: “The University of Sunderland was the only university that accepted me. I was low on confidence, unsure and scared. I warmed to the North East and the football team was doing well, so I just went for it!

“I had a passionate Media Lecturer Dr Amir Saeed who I remember was very inspiring. I was actually thinking about leaving in year 1, but the football on Monday nights up at the ski slope really got me through! I was influenced as well by the University of Sunderland being a leader in Media.”

He continued: “It was a great city, an underdog. The City was on a high with a revamped shopping centre, bars/clubs and the football team was flying. There was a reserve game at the Stadium of Light where it was a pound to see Sunderland v Man Utd reserves and 40,000 people turned up!

“Sadly I can see how the town centre has shrunk during the recession and the football team is struggling. Very sad to see. But my memories were of great times at Manor Quay, Cast, Shed 7 etc.”

Based on his own experience, Gareth´s advice to current students on how to get a foot on the career ladder is to volunteer and network.

“I volunteered to get my job. Volunteering and networking are crucial,” he said.

He added: “I didn’t come away from University feeling I’d achieved or that I’d grasped the opportunity. I wasn’t confident. But on reflection, I had gained so much from the experience and it shaped me to succeed, and I have achieved a lot. It took me places without knowing and I am very proud to have gone to Sunderland and love going back.”

Asked about his future plans, Gareth said: “I have worked within Manchester City for 10 years and travelled all over the world, working with all cultures, communities, celebrities and footballers. I have met many inspiring people and love my job. So my future plan is to continue in my role and support people and communities where I can. I would also like to use my media degree in more creative writing in my personal time. I am more than happy to give back to Sunderland in any way I can.”

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