Imagine a job where you get to work with some of the world’s greatest names in showbusiness, and raise huge amounts of awareness for an incredible cause in the process…
That’s life for Edge Hill University graduate Paul Cullen. He’s Celebrity and VIP Manager at Macmillan Cancer Support, working across all of the charity’s biggest campaigns.
He graduated from the Ormskirk university in 1996 with a BA (Hons) in Communication Studies and says he knew that he wanted a career in the media, but wasn’t entirely sure what that role would be.
“I wanted to work in TV,” he says, “and my ambition was to work for the BBC. I had contacted Universal Pictures and managed to get work experience with them, then, in my first year at Edge Hill, I did a placement in the Easter holidays on the Big Breakfast. I also got work experience on Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush. It was a coup to have the opportunity to work on both. Closer to Edge Hill, I was a fairly regular visitor to the This Morning studios at the Albert Dock and was often observed causally passing in the background behind Richard and Judy.
“In terms of my CV, working on those shows stood me in really good stead. Edge Hill were brilliant in that the tutors encouraged us to seek work experience and gave us the opportunities to do it. They didn’t set project work during the holidays, for example. They wanted us to get out there and get that practical experience.”
Paul’s first role after graduation was in the drama casting team at the BBC, and he then spent seven years as a theatrical agent. After getting involved as a volunteer with the Variety Club, at a time when the idea of celebrity and talent manager in charities was still in its infancy, Paul was hired by RNLI to manage its VIP relationships.
In August 2013, he moved to Macmillan to head up the team which looks after existing ambassadors, and cultivates new celebrity relationships. Ask him to reel off the people he’s worked with in the last few weeks and he names acclaimed actresses Alison Steadman, Brenda Blethyn and Julie Walters, EastEnders star Larry Lamb, former Miss Moneypenny Samantha Bond, and international fashion designer David Emanuel.
And Paul says his time at Edge Hill taught him a huge amount about how to cultivate those relationships.
“Without the support of tutors encouraging me to explore work experience opportunities, I would never have had a CV which stood out to employers,” he adds. “It’s obviously a really competitive business so you have to make the right approach to people. Demonstrate to them that you have a passion for that they do, even if you don’t strictly know where you may fit into that, that you know their business, and that your approach is tailored to them rather than generic.”
And he’s keen to keep his relationship with Edge Hill going too.
“Going back to Edge Hill is amazing,” says Paul. “The place is almost unrecognisable from when I studied there and it is great to see the university doing so incredibly well.
“It was a great community. The fact that I am still in contact with so many people is testament to that. I didn’t live in halls as I missed the deadline when applying, so I shared a house in Aughton and our parties were legendary back then! I have lots of affection for Edge Hill, and always will.”