OW Spotlight Arani Mylvaganam

Apsley '00

Research Manager - Fundraising

Tell us about yourself

I left Wellington in 2000 and went on to study Economics at York. After a few years working in corporate event management in London, I went on to do some further study and ended up in Oxfordshire (via Malawi) where I have remained. I’m now Research Manager at a fundraising consultancy, leading on multiple research projects for some of the country’s largest charities.  


What inspired you to work within Social Research? 

I’ve always enjoyed social sciences, and have studied both Economics and Psychology. In my career I get to combine my interests in data and human thoughts, actions and behaviours on a daily basis, as well as getting to interact with lots of interesting people along the way.  


How did you get to where you are today? 

I’ve definitely enjoyed a meandering career! After graduating I worked in marketing and events before doing a Masters in Consumer & Economic Psychology at Exeter. This really launched my interest in social research, and since then I’ve been able to work on a really wide variety of projects across the climate change, international development and charity sectors. I’ve worked for three different consultancies as well as doing freelance work, which has allowed me to work with lots of different clients and use my research skills in many settings.  


What advice would you give to students/young OWs who would like to join the Charity/NGO sectors? 

The charity sector is incredibly competitive, but also really open to lots of different backgrounds and experiences. It may sound trite, but transferable skills really are important in this sector, so identify what area you want to get into (fundraising, communication and marketing, campaigning, programme management etc) and work out what you can bring to the table from your existing experience. A genuine interest in the causal area and evidence of volunteering helps too.  


What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given? 

I’ve always liked the phrase ‘leave wanting more’. I’ve never waited until I was bored or unhappy in a job to start looking for my next step, and have always been lucky enough to move on to new roles whilst still being challenged and enjoying where I work. It can feel like a bit of a risk, but it’s generally worked out pretty well for me!   


What are your career highlights? 

I was really fortunate to live and work in Malawi for a couple of years, and did some amazing in-field research with local communities whilst I was there. Not much will beat talking to people in their homes in their beautiful mountainside villages about the impact of eco-tourism.  


Where do you see yourself in 5/10/20 years? 

I haven’t ever really been a strategic planner when it comes to my career – I have just followed my interests, stayed in touch with great colleagues and clients, and taken every opportunity thrown my way. I’ve been lucky so far, so imagine I’ll just keep doing the same!  


Do you have a fond memory from your time at Wellington that you would like to share or perhaps a particular teacher that really stood out? 

Wellington was an interesting place to be a female Asian pupil in 1998 – it definitely made me tougher! I will never forget any of the incredible teachers who inspired me through my A-Levels, including Potts. But the History trip to Poland and Austria, led by Mr Jeffrey and Dr Boscher, will always hold fond and important memories for me, including a particularly hilarious night of impromptu dancing to Europop in an underground bar… 

Thanks to Arani Mylvaganam (Ap 00) for this spotlight piece.