In business: Q&A with The University of Law Alumnus – Nick Connor

From LPC student to MD, The University of Law alumnus Nick Connor, managing director of Volvo Car UK, talks to The University of Law.

Tell us a bit about your time studying at The University of Law.

After studying an undergraduate degree in Law and Politics at Cardiff University, I studied the LPC at Guildford, graduating in 1987. I chose The University of Law for being THE specialist leading institution. I genuinely enjoyed my time there and unlike regular universities, felt a certain sense of belonging. Everyone was there for the same thing, in the same boat, and I made lifelong friendships.

Why did you choose to study law?

From an early age I had a keen interest in law and I also realised that, whatever career route I later decided to follow, a law degree would be well respected and stand me in good stead. I found during my undergraduate degree that it was the law element I was most interested in rather than politics. I particularly enjoyed the practical side and knew I wanted to go into practice.

What did you like about The University of Law’s teaching and learning techniques compared to other places you have studied at?

The teaching and learning was very different to my undergraduate degree. The quality of the teaching at The University of Law was outstanding and very highly structured. It was far less theoretical and much more practical – you really felt like you were being prepared for a career in law. As a student, you were being taught by people who had, and still were, actually practising in law, both in the UK and internationally. That level of insight was priceless.

Even though the courses were very highly structured, there was somewhat of a relaxed vibe to the campus. The tutors treated us as equals and there was far more interaction and support than I had previously experienced.

What was your first job and what did you want to be when you were growing up?

I seem to remember when I was very young, I wanted to be a tractor driver… but my first real job was as what used to be called an articled clerk (now a trainee solicitor) at Moore & Blatch Solicitors. I got the training contract in my last year at Cardiff University and started there the summer after completing my LPC. I remember in the 70s watching a US TV series called Petrocelli about an American/Italian lawyer. It was pretty cheesy but also very idealistic watching him in each episode taking unremarkable facts and building a fantastic case.

Tell us about your current role

I am managing director of Volvo Car UK, responsible for the overall sales, marketing and distribution of our cars, parts and accessories. I’ve been here for 19 years in total and joined as group solicitor and company secretary, moving into my current role four years ago. Previous to this I had been working in a private practice in London and could feel that I was being channelled into a specialist area which was not the direction I wanted to take. I wanted greater variety. I was actually then approached by a head hunter and ended up moving into the automotive industry at Hartwell PLC. I really enjoyed my two years there and, in particular, gaining experience in a different industry and commercial environment. With that automotive experience under my belt, I was then approached by Volvo, which I thought I would maybe do for a couple of years. I had planned to go back into practice but 19 years on I am still here and this is purely because I love the commercial role and love what the brand
stands for.

How has a qualification in law helped you achieve your ambitions?

It gave me access to a commercial role within a well-respected global brand. My legal role at Volvo put me in a very unique position. It enabled me to dig deep into all aspects of the business and to have a broad overview of all operational functions. Not many other roles give you this rich experience and exposure. This ultimately led into my transition from a legal role to MD. A qualification in law, I believe, gave me the tools I needed to do this and end up in a job I love.