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Deepa Thomas-Sutcliffe

MBA, 2021

  • Head of Engagement at the Cabinet Office, Manchester.
  • Host of the Meet the Mancunian Social Impact Podcast Series. 



Portrait image of Deepa Thomas-Sutcliffe, MBA 2021

Deepa Thomas-Sutcliffe, MBA, 2021

Journey to Bradford 

"I was moving from India to Saudi Arabia as a diplomatic spouse (on a dependent visa), and I knew that it would be a difficult time professionally due to restrictions on spouses working and most communications roles being reserved for Saudi nationals. I decided to pursue an MBA, something I had always wanted to do but never had the time for due to a busy communications career in India.

"I researched good universities for my MBA in the UK, where we were moving to next. It finally came down to the University of Bradford as the best distance learning option. I met one of the professors when I visited my in-laws in Bradford and signed up. I would say it’s been a good choice, and I have really enjoyed my MBA journey. It has given me increased confidence in my work and expertise, and in working in complex businesses.

"The professors at Bradford were good, I would like to call out Natalie, Joana, Shahid, and George amongst others, who took the time to advise me in my job search. The career coach Hermione Berry was a huge support as I move to and looked for work in the UK. She is now a dear friend as well."


My favourite memories include my in-person graduation ceremony in December 2021, which was the first since the pandemic, and receiving an overall distinction in the MBA. The graduation ceremony was very well organised with social distancing and masks. There was a band, and it was great to wear the graduation robes and receive my degree on stage.

Career journey 

"During my MBA, I worked first at the British Embassy in Saudi Arabia as Estates Manager (one of the few options I could apply for) and then, after I moved to the UK, as Head of Communications (Interim) at the World Association of Nuclear Operators. Before that, I had over 20 years of communications leadership experience at companies like eBay, Mahindra Group, Marico, and Nissan in India.

"I completed my MBA in December 2021, and on the day of my graduation, HM Revenue & Customs reached out with an interesting role to lead communications and stakeholder engagement for a large customs transformation project. It was a short-term interim assignment, and I had never worked in the public sector before. I really enjoyed it, and a 3-month assignment turned into 14 months working on the comms strategy and delivery plans for UK traders to move from the old customs platform to the new Customs Declaration Service.

"I then applied for my first permanent role in the Civil Service as Head of Engagement, Modernisation, and Reform Unit at the Cabinet Office. I lead a team that works with internal communications leads in departments, professions, and functions across the civil service to help engage 500,000 civil servants on A Modern Civil Service and reform mission. It’s an exciting and challenging role, and I am really enjoying it.

"I serve as a Trustee for the Tree of Life for Animals UK and as an EDI champion for the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, North West Committee. I host a podcast – Meet the Mancunian: social impact stories from Manchester. You can visit my website and learn more about the podcast here."

Biggest successes

"The biggest successes in my career so far include receiving an Industry Award for Leading Woman in Public Relations and Communications in India, evangelising e-commerce and eBay while helping over 600 journalists understand e-commerce, assisting Mahindra Group in building its reputation at the World Economic Forum in India and Davos, and supporting the migration of UK traders' import declarations to the Customs Declaration Service."


Career advice 

"I would advise people to be clear on their purpose and where they can add value. Having worked in various industries, I particularly enjoy nascent and emerging sectors and projects, where there are challenges to figure out, rather than in routine business environments. Regularly seek ways to improve your skills through both formal and informal opportunities—today, podcasts, TED Talks, and YouTube videos offer as much learning as books, and I have found LinkedIn Learning to be very good. 

"Talk with people who are working in industries, companies, or roles that interest you, as this can teach you a lot about what it takes to be successful. Finally, don’t be afraid to try something new."