Viki Shearer, 2015

Viki Shearer (2015) is currently studying for her Masters in Heritage Management with Queen Mary University and Historic Royal Palaces (HRP).


1. When did you leave The Abbey and what are you doing now?

I left The Abbey in 2015 and I’m currently studying for my Masters in Heritage Management with Queen Mary University and Historic Royal Palaces (HRP).

Although I have always been interested in history, I wanted to do something more practical and where I could work directly with people, so I studied Psychology and Business at the University of Edinburgh. I largely took modules in Organisational Behaviour, thinking I wanted to go into HR and employee engagement but after working as an Intern and later an Assistant in the Business School’s Alumni Team, I realised that I wanted to work in external community engagement.  

After graduating, I worked at Fettes College, running their alumni programme.

I found myself spending more and more time in the Fettes’ Archives and using the history to engage alumni.  At the same time, I was working on a volunteer project developing an engagement programme and partnership opportunities for a historic church as part of a National Heritage Lottery Fund grant application. I realised that I wanted to combine my interests, working to engage people with heritage to improve the financial viability of heritage sites, so last March I applied for my Masters and began that in September 2020.

What I love about my course is it combines heritage with management in theory and practice, including weekly seminars led by staff from departments across HRP, including from Chief Curator, Lucy Worsley. I’ve also had the opportunity to work as an Intern at HRP as part of my placement modules. I worked with the Head of Sales in the Commercial Department, looking at different ticketing models used in the sector and how HRP develop creative partnerships for event and merchandising opportunities to maximise income from the domestic market as they reopen sites.  

In June, I move to a Digital Curation placement, where I shall be researching and producing online content for HRP, before going into an Operations placement at Kensington Palace in July.


2. What do you miss the most about The Abbey?

I think seeing my friends every day.  We’ve all kept in touch and still see each other often but after five years living in Scotland, it’s nice being back down South and being able to see them without lots of advanced planning.


3. What would you say is your biggest achievement? 

I think one of my biggest achievements was having the activities and engagement programme I developed included as part of a National Heritage Lottery Fund grant application. That application was successful and without that, I don’t know if I would have had the confidence to pursue it as a career.

Another is while at Fettes, a man got in touch, explaining his father had died young and he had very few photographs of his father’s childhood, and knew little about it. I managed to not only find photos of his father at school in the Archives, but also found his father’s best friend from school and was able to put them in touch.  Both later contacted me to tell me having the opportunity to learn about his life at and after Fettes respectively was invaluable and a connection both wanted but had not imagined possible. Seeing how special it was for them and knowing that I was able to help make it happen is something I think will stay with me for a long time.


4. What advice would you give to current students?

It is 100% OK if you don’t know exactly what you want to do and if you do, don’t be afraid to change your mind later on. Anything you try, view it as an opportunity. Whether a job or volunteering, there will always be something you can take away from it (even if it is realising you never want to work in that area again).

If you’re thinking about working in the Heritage sector but not sure what you want to do, volunteer with smaller organisations that rely on volunteers to run. You’ll be able to get a lot more involved in a range of areas and that’s great for figuring out what you do and don’t like.