Grad Train is the brainchild of Dr Eliza Filby, an academic with seven years experience teaching undergraduates and eight years experience training postgraduates.   After ten years in higher education herself, Eliza came to the conclusion that while degrees taught students how to think, a degree did not teach students how to communicate. In 2014, Eliza launched GradTrain to help the graduate generation increase their confidence in public speaking, communication skills and prepare for the job market. The aim was to create personalised, relevant and interactive training for students, researchers and academics within HEIs.


‘Learn to be heard’



Our Trainers


Dr Eliza Filby


Dr Eliza Filby is a businesswoman, writer and academic. Currently a visiting lecturer in Modern British History at King’s College London, she was educated at Durham, UCL and received her doctorate from the University of Warwick in 2010. As a postgraduate, she set up History Lab, a network for young historians and Speakeasy, a public speaking initiative for postgraduates. She was also editor of VITAE’s on-line magazine for postgraduates in the UK.

An experienced public speaker, Eliza has taught at the University of Warwick and the Institute of Historical Research and in 2013 was a visiting lecturer at Renmin University in Beijing. She regularly appears in the media as a historical commentator, has featured in several Radio 4 history documentaries and is a regular panellist on Sky News’s Paper Review show. She has written for The Times, Telegraph, Spectator and reviewed for The Financial Times and The Tablet. Her first book, God and Mrs Thatcher: The Battle for Britain’s Soul was published in 2015.  Her current research examines different generations – babyboomers, Gen X and Millennials – and the tensions and relationships between them. You can find more about her research and writings here.

About US Eliza Filby -web


Dr Shanon Shah


Dr Shanon Shah is a writer, consultant and an academic. He received his doctorate in the sociology of religion from King’s College London in 2015 and is currently an associate lecturer in religious studies at the University of Kent. Shanon has taught at the Institute of Ismaili Studies and St Augustine’s College of Theology and has conducted research for LSE’s INFORM as well as several educational charities. He balances teaching and research with duties as deputy editor of the acclaimed quarterly periodical Critical Muslim and convenor of the British Sociological Association’s Religion study group. Before embarking on academia, Shanon was an award-winning singer-songwriter, playwright and journalist in his native Malaysia.

London, United Kingdom - Wednesday 20 July 2016, Muslim Institute - Dr Shanon Shah.

James Everest

James completed a PhD in History at UCL in 2017, before which he studied French and Oriental Studies at Pembroke College, Cambridge, gained a Masters in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies at Queen Mary, University of London, and worked in a public relations firm in central London. While at Queen Mary he was the founding editor of The Queen Mary Review (now Peach magazine). He has published as essay on Francis Bacon’s work on light in Intellectual History Review and has presented his work at conferences in the UK, Europe and the USA. He is currently the researcher for a BBC Radio 4 documentary, due to air in early 2018, in which he will make a brief appearance.


Stewart O’Reilly


Stewart is a professional actor and trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). He has worked extensively in both film and theatre, as well as in the Learning and Development sector for various drama based training companies as an actor/facilitator. A highlight of his career so far is having auditioned for Kevin Spacey (and getting the role) and acting in a scene opposite Bryan Cranston in the Hollywood movie ‘The Infiltrator’ (2016).
As well as a career in acting and training, Stewart has led youth theatre workshops for various establishments, most notably the Old Vic Theatre in London. He has also contracted in the corporate sector on multiple Employee Engagement project teams, helping to improve the day-to-day communication to colleagues, and support them through tricky and sensitive periods of business transformation. Clients include: Barclays, Credit Suisse, Lloyds Banking Group, and HSBC.

A keen filmmaker, he also runs Round 6 films, a small business specialising in corporate video and advertising. Round 6 also produces independent dramas, events coverage and special occasion films.



Bonnie Tompson


Bonnie also trained at LAMDA, graduating in 2007. For the past nine years she has combined her acting career with teaching communication and leadership skills in the education and corporate sectors with with the Theatre of Leadership and global drama training company, Bi Jingo. She has also toured schools with theatre productions, made short films and can be seen dancing in episodes of Sherlock and Downtown Abbey!

Having grown up a shy child, afraid to use her voice until she fell into acting by mistake, Bonnie truly empathises with the challenges that public speaking can bring for the individual. Her passion is using skills she has gained over the years to help others realise their potential as effective and memorable communicators.



Chris Birkett


Chris Birkett is a broadcast journalist, producer and academic with thirty years’ experience in national and international news. He is the former executive editor of Sky News and managing editor of BBC News 24. At the sharp end of the biggest news stories of the past three decades, he has been in charge of presenters, reporters, producers and contributors on hundreds of television and radio programmes on BBC Radio Four, BBC Five Live, BBC One and Sky. He is the only broadcast journalist to have edited UK general election night programmes on both national radio and television; he was responsible for election-night broadcast coverage of every US presidential contest from 1992-2012.

In 2005 Chris received an International Emmy Award for producing Sky News’ coverage of the London 7/7 terrorist attacks and in 2010 he was honoured with the Royal Television Society Judges’ Award for his part in sealing the historic deal which brought about Britain’s first televised Prime Ministerial Debates

Chris received his degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from University College, Oxford and his Masters in American Studies from King’s College London. He is currently writing a book on the cultural history of the Clinton Presidency (offering an opportunity to indulge in his two passions, American politics and baseball) and is a visiting lecturer in Journalism at City, University of London.




Jamie Wood


Jamie Wood is an award-winning journalist and media professional with more a decade of experience at the heart of 24-hour television news. As an Executive Producer for Sky News, he edited thousands of hours of live rolling coverage of some of the biggest news stories of the past 10 years – helping the channel win a BAFTA nomination and numerous Royal Television Society awards along the way. In addition to editing daily news shows, he also ran some of Sky’s biggest broadcast projects, including the U.S. election night programmes in 2008 and 2012. He has led and mentored the careers of producers and correspondents and been the “voice in the ear” of some of the most high-profile presenters in the business. He now runs his own company as a broadcast media consultant, developing and editing programmes and offering broadcast training. It all began with student radio and writing for a short-lived satirical magazine while studying for a M.A. in Psychology at the University of Edinburgh. If not found working his way through a TV box set, he’s usually watching rugby.



Jack Blackburn


Having studied Philosophy and Theology at Oxford, Jack Blackburn trained as an actor at East 15 Acting School. Since graduating, he has worked on stage, in commercials, on radio, and in education. He is also a writer, having written his debut short play in 2014, and also runs a satirical blog and writes for The Times.

Jack Blackburn Headshot (E-mail) copy


Amelia Donkor


Amelia trained at LAMDA and has enjoyed a career working across television and theatre. Recent highlights include the premier of Eve Ensler’s new work ‘The Fruit Trilogy’ at The Women of the World Festival, Southbank Centre, as well as arresting Ian Beale on Eastenders! She has also worked extensively with an array of corporate clients, using drama based training to support feedback, coaching and communication skills.


Joanne Ferguson


Joanne trained at LAMDA and has enjoyed a varied career working in Theatre, Film and Radio, most recently appearing for a year in ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ in the West End. She is an experienced drama tutor supporting students and corporate clients alike with communication and presentation skills. Joanne also works extensively in Voiceover and can frequently be heard on the TV and Radio voicing adverts, promos and documentaries.