Life after London Met: My journey from poverty to success via London Met

A keen interest and passion for youth and social development for those from disadvantaged backgrounds helped alumnus Maxton Scotland forge a career in the UN and as an entrepreneur.

Date: 25 June 2019

In our Life after London Met series, we talk to our graduates about their studies and how their degree helped transform their lives and set them on the path to career success.

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Maxton Scotland, who studied Security Studies at London, is a tireless campaigner for peace and social development through his UN and third sector work. Here he shares his story and reflects upon his time at London Met.

Tell us a bit about your career journey.
My name is Maxton R Scotland from the West Indian Island St. Vincent & the Grenadines. I spent my formative years in the Caribbean where my parents were not even able to afford a pair of shoes or school books for us, I became a tour guide to help with the cost of going to college to do my A-Level exams and I managed to pass 5 A’ Levels with one textbook. 

After graduating from college, I became a high school teacher before enlisting in the UK Armed Forces as a linguist where I stayed for six years while pursuing studies in Indo-Iranian Languages, politics, laws of armed conflict and journalism before commencing my postgraduate studies in Security Studies at the London Metropolitan University. 

What made you come to London Met? 
When I completed language training, I was thinking ‘what next’? I was recovering from cancer after being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour and I was still undergoing radiotherapy. I knew that if I wanted to be able to compete globally and in a world where you are first recognised by the colour of your skin or your socio-economic background, I had to be the best. I have had to overcome the barriers that would possibly prevent me from getting that job or getting to that destination. So, I had to make sure I was well equipped with the necessary tools to navigate around these hurdles. 

I chose London Metropolitan University because of its diversity of students and staff. It is one of the few universities that offer an equal representation of the world. Although my studies were via distance learning, I got to experience first-hand the ‘people-centred’ approach the University takes to excellence. I am proud that my younger brother Jermain Franklyn saw this same vision and enrolled at the University to complete his postgraduate studies too.

What did you enjoy most about London Met? 
I enjoyed the diversity and empathy demonstrated by staff to the students. There were times when I was struggling to meet deadlines due to my treatment, but the University never failed to support me on my path to graduation. 

What did you do after you graduated?
Since finishing my course at London Met, I have served as the youth chair of the United Nations Department of Global Communications and Civil Society conference, been a leadership ambassador for the Toronto World Leadership Forum, a representative to the United Nations, an international ambassador for peace, an advisor to the UN Youth Representatives Steering Committee, Founder of Impakt X Ltd and was nominated for the most senior youth position at the UN – the Envoy on Youth.

How has your course at London Met helped you in the working world? 
I wanted a better understanding of the cultural nuances at play in our diverse world. The Security Studies course helped me understand the role current and emerging economies play in the shaping of policies and the dynamics of democracy and international security. I took advantage of the International experience of my lectures and I learned how to communicate effectively. I also came to understand the vital role empathy plays in the shaping of policy and negotiating with individuals from different cultural backgrounds. 

Do you have any advice for graduates starting out in the world of work? 
My advice is to understand your worth, don’t write your CV and LinkedIn profile like a robot. You cannot sell yourself writing in the third person and the quicker you realise this, the quicker you will stand out. Perseverance and faith in myself allowed me to be recognised beyond my wildest imagination and it can work for you too, just not overnight. 

What is it about working with international relations that you enjoy?  
I thoroughly enjoy learning from other people, their culture, food, way of life and languages. I enjoy the erudite discussions on policymaking, the sustainable development goals and how the decisions made at such a high level, impact a community and our generation. I feel a sense of pride when I have worked on or contributed to something that change lives on the ground and enables the young people to be able to think big and become innovative using whatever tools at their disposal to elevate themselves.

Could you tell us one of the most challenging things about starting your own company?
A big challenge is pitching your idea to potential investors who may just run off with your idea and leave you hanging as has happened to many entrepreneurs. But my guiding principle is “Jump and grow wings on the way down”. You may not have anyone to guide you at the beginning and you will have to accept the fact that you will need to work harder and longer. And, although you WILL FAIL numerous times, learn to accept this as part of the process and learn from those failures. This is the only way you will be able to actually ‘control your own destiny’ and create something that will possibly be bigger than yourself.

At London Met we are very proud of our diverse and talented alumni community. We have graduates in almost every conceivable industry from aviation, banking, social work, education, law to fantastic artists and architects and Interior Designers.  Our graduates come from all over the world and have all made a massive contribution nationally and internationally and a record 96.7% of all our graduates are working or studying six months after graduating.