Alumni Spotlight

Sam Bowman - Executive Director, Adam Smith Institute

8 Jan
Sam Bowman

Sam Bowman is former Executive Director of the Adam Smith Institute in London, a leading think tank which works to promote free market, neoliberal ideas through research, publishing and education. Sam joined the ASI in 2010 after completing a degree in History and Economics at UCC and was appointed to the role of Executive Director in 2015. He chats to us about his college days and passes on some useful advice to today’s students.

Course/subjects studied in University College Cork
BA in History and Economics

Best memory of UCC
Hanging out in the multi-functional hall.

How has your time at UCC helped you to get to where you are now?
I took a pretty versatile set of modules and did a lot of extra reading outside my course (especially in economics) that gave me confidence to go into a different city and very competitive job market (London) with the knowledge that I was as good or better than most of my competitors.

What is your advice to current UCC students?
I have two pieces of advice, mostly for humanities and social science students. The first is to use your access to journal articles as early as possible – it sets you apart from the students who only use books, gives you a better idea of what academic writing is really like, and is one of the most useful skills you can develop for the real world. The second is to do outside reading, not just what your course prescribes. Ideally become a mini "expert" in a certain topic that interests you. It'll help you in your course, but more importantly it'll give you an intellectual hinterland so that you're more than just your degree once you graduate.

What person/people at UCC had the most positive influence on you?
UCC's whole history faculty is world-class, and the first year lecturers I had were terrific teachers and introductions to the subject. But in particular, Mike Cosgrave and Mervyn O'Driscoll, who I studied under in later years, were both terrifically innovative and rigorous historians who helped me to appreciate the importance of evidence and innovation in academic history, and being willing to change one's priors when new, contradictory evidence came along.

Were you involved in any Clubs or Societies?
I was involved with the International Relations Society, which I ran when I was in second year, which was great fun. I do suggest people participate in societies if they can, especially on the administrative side – not just because it's a great way of meeting people, but also because you'll get to experience the university bureaucracy and understand the difficulties and confusion that can go with working inside a large organisation.

Favourite UCC legend or superstition
I don't believe in ghosts.

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