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The magazine for Friends of Coventry University
Hot off the press
How student media has changed since the sixties
The University’s innovative ideas for supporting an ageing society
a University r crystal decanteE ne of THRE or o goody bags!
How Graphic Design graduate Alison Snowden’s love of the underdog earned her an Oscar
The University has changed a lot since it merged with Coventry College of Art in 1970 and developed the School of Art & Design. This move had an impact not only on the future of the Institution but also on the graduates it produced who have gone on to enjoy successful careers in the art and design industries. In this issue you can read about Oscar-winning animator Alison Snowden as well as a more recent design graduate who didn’t let his disability hold him back from success. You can also see how much the Students’ Union’s newspaper has changed since its production in the ‘60s to the plethora of communication we have today. It reminded me how much FOCUS has changed too. Now you can keep in touch through our website and newsletters, on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn – and of course through your magazine evolve. Thanks to everyone who completed the alumni survey – on page 30 you can read about the changes we’re making.
Keep in touch
The alumni team
Alumni Relations Manager Maria Haslam Alumni Relations Officer Kristina Anders Data Officer Katharine Beer Annual Fund Officer Brian Wilson Head of Development Matt Feeley Development Manager Chris Smith
Telephone: +44 (0) 24 7688 8589 Email: email@example.com Post: FOCUS, The Development Office, Alan Berry Building, Room 10, Coventry University, Priory Street, Coventry, CV1 5FB Website: www.coventry.ac.uk/alumni E-News: A free monthly alumni e-newsletter. Subscribe by emailing SUBSCRIBE to firstname.lastname@example.org Social Networking: Become a Fan and join the Friends of Coventry University group on Facebook, link up with the University and other professionals on LinkedIn and get in touch on Xing.
This magazine is written and edited by Elliott House Communications, designed by Linda Selby and Paul Clarke for Coventry University, photographs by Graham Harwood and printed by Emmersons Press. Special thanks to everyone who contributed to this issue of evolve. Please keep sending in your stories.
This magazine is published twice a year for alumni of Coventry University. All letters, photos and news are welcomed but we reserve the right to edit any contributions. The opinions expressed in evolve are those of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Alumni Relations Office or Coventry University.
12 Get Connected Find out what old friends are doing now 18 My University How a disability isn’t stopping one graduate’s career ambitions 24 Letters Your views and opinions about Coventry University 29 Lecturer in Focus Lecturer Ron Mountain’s interest in emergencies and disasters 34 Reunions See who has been back on campus reliving old times 36 Events Find out about the latest events and activities on offer to graduates
Vice Chancellor Madeleine Atkins explains University funding
At a time of uncertainty in the public sector, the University did receive some welcome news this summer. Coventry is one of only a few Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) that was given increased government funding in the current financial year. The increase is from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and comes amid a raft of spending cuts in the public sector. It recognises the contribution our graduates make to the UK economy – particularly in the maths, engineering, technology and science sectors – and how much employers value the training we provide for their workforce. But despite this positive news, like all universities we face tough times ahead. To continue delivering highquality teaching and learning and to improve our facilities to a standard required by today’s students much more investment is needed. Our research agenda, increased research funding and new initiatives – such as our new London campus – and our internal costcutting measures have helped to strengthen our position but we are also looking to our alumni for support. It might be a placement or internship opportunity that you could offer, a careers talk to aspiring young students or a donation to help fund a scholarship or bursary. We’re confident about our future but together we can ensure this University builds an even greater reputation for excellence.
8 Enterprise: Gifted Friends How three friends launched a successful gift business 10 Employment: Work Advantage Using an internship or placement to further your career 16 Research: Ideal Solution Assisting businesses to launch products for an ageing society 20 Interview: Alison Snowden The Oscar-winning animator reveals how to be successful 26 Nostalgia: Breaking News Comparing student media in the 60s with today’s offering 30 Your Shout Revealing your responses to the recent alumni survey 32 Development: Practical Approach Neil Carson’s journey to becoming CEO of a FTSE 100 company
competitions and offers
37 Win a University Crystal Decanter 38 Benefits and Services All the perks of being a member of FOCUS 40 University Gifts Buy Coventry University branded souvenirs to remind you of your student days
This magazine is available in alternative formats on request. Call +44 (0) 24 7688 8589 or email email@example.com
Professor Madeleine Atkins Vice-Chancellor
*Black and white images courtesy of Pete Chambers – pictured right outside the new cafe
The latest campus and graduate news
Got a story? Send news to alumni@ coventry. ac.uk
Boost in newsletter numbers
ver 20,000 graduates now subscribe to the monthly FOCUS e-newsletter. The free personalised newsletter is packed with updates from graduates, news from the University and includes a competition with fun prizes. In the past year, graduates have won Coventry University branded memorabilia such as T-shirts and hoodies, as well as tickets to enjoy ice hockey matches and a day out at Alton Towers. If you would like to receive FOCUS E-News, you can subscribe just by writing SUBSCRIBE in the subject bar and emailing alumni@coventry. ac.uk. Please include your name and course in the main body of the email so we can add the subscription to your record.
new museum dedicated to Coventry’s association with 2-Tone music is now open in the Students’ Union and graduates are invited to contribute memorabilia. The 2-Tone Central museum celebrates Coventry bands such as The Specials and The Selecter who were part of the 2-Tone movement in the ‘70s and ‘80s. The museum is also a café and a live music venue and one of the first exhibitions will be Coventry University ‘The Lanch’ A 2-Tone Icon – to mark the fact that many of the 2-Tone bands played at the Students’ Union and studied at the University. Among the collection will be Roddy Radiation’s famous black beauty Les Paul guitar, and one of Lynval Golding’s Prince of Wales
suits. Coventry music historian Pete Chambers is keen to hear from graduates who would like to donate or loan items. “Were you in the Rat Race video? Have you any memorabilia such as a concert ticket, a pass, or maybe something even more unique you would like to loan or donate? If so, please get in touch,” said Pete, who is the 2-Tone Central Director. The Specials’ Horace Panter (Fine Art, 1975) recently unveiled a 2-Tone plaque at the Students’ Union to commemorate its involvement with the 2-Tone music scene.
The exhibition is free to visitors. Please contact Pete at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to loan/donate any memorabilia.
ver 700 international graduates and postgraduates attended the University’s graduation ceremony at Coventry Cathedral in July. In total, 754 graduates and 1,508 guests were at the ceremony on 21 July to celebrate the successful completion of their qualification. The University filmed the happy event and you can watch it at www. youtube.com/covstudent. Alumni Relations Officer Kristina Anders said: “Congratulations to everyone who graduated this July. It was a fantastic day and we wish you all the best of luck in your future careers. We also hope you keep in touch with Coventry!” All graduates are encouraged to update their details with the alumni office to ensure they receive the evolve magazine and the monthly e-newsletter FOCUS E-News. This can be done at www.coventry. ac.uk/alumni or by emailing alumni@ coventry.ac.uk with your new address and contact details.
call for survey winner
inning an iPhone 4 came as a welcome surprise to one postgraduate after three years of juggling work and study. Tori Stead (Psychology, 2003, Personnel Management, 2010) gave feedback on her studies in a Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES), which was developed by The Higher Education Academy (HEA) to record students’ experiences of taught masters programmes in the UK. All of Coventry University’s completed surveys were entered into a prize draw to win an iPhone or four runners-up prizes of Amazon vouchers worth £100 each. Tori was delighted to be chosen as the overall winner. “When I received the email I thought it was a joke. It was good timing though as my other phone had broken,” said Tori, who is an HR Assistant and was sponsored by her employer Häfele to do the postgraduate qualification. “I was supported during my course and it was good to network with other people.” Over 3,000 Coventry postgraduate students were offered the chance to take part in the second national PTES earlier this year. Results showed 89% indicated their course had met or exceeded their overall expectations. The next PTES will take place in March-May 2011.
WINNER: Tori Stead with Deputy Vice-Chancellor Ian Marshall
Defence course launches
new postgraduate course in Defence and Security Engineering launched this October, aimed at graduates who want to play a major engineering role in developing defence technology. The MSc is an opportunity to study a subject in a growing industry as the UK’s defence sector remains one of the largest employers of professional engineers in the world. There are currently very few courses related to defence and security engineering in the UK, and fewer still which offer a consolidated course specific to the sector. Charles Kingdom, Course Tutor
and Senior Lecturer in Materials and Engineering Design, said he was delighted about the new course. “Engineering for the defence and security sector is highly relevant to today’s world. The course represents a contemporary vision of the industry and benefits from the University’s know-how in automotive, aerospace and manufacturing technology. We’re aiming to attract students not only from the UK and Europe, but also from international markets who are interested in this highly specialised industry growth area.” Call +44 (0) 24 7688 7091 for more information.
The sharpest business minds are taking part in a new speaker programme that launched this year. The Meet the Business Prof series is a chance to hear from the Business School’s leading thinkers. Similar to the Coventry Conversations format, which involves the media, alumni are invited to attend for free. Email alumni@coventry. ac.uk for more information.
The 1974 graduation reunion received a bronze award in the alumni/fundraising campaign category at the Heist (Higher Education Information Services Trust) Awards 2010. The University was also commended for its innovative use of iTunes in the Innovation and Creative Thinking category at the annual Heist awards in Manchester.
Graduate Alastair Callender (Boat Design, 2009) won the Condé Nast Traveller’s Innovation & Design Award 2010 for Sustainability for his supergreen superyacht design. Alastair was featured in the spring 2010 issue of evolve and was voted by the public to win the Condé Nast competition for his eco-superyacht concept called Soliloquy.
memory bank Who was your favourite lecturer?
(Combined Engineering, 1987) Dave Elcock gave a mature student with no A-Levels (I had a full tech certificate) an opportunity to study for a degree. He was always ready to help and support and was totally committed to his role.
inal year Art and Design students impressed academics, industry figures and graduates when they showcased their work at the 2010 Degree Show in June. The showcase of work was from degree courses in Industrial Design, Automotive Design and Visual Arts as well work from final year students in Fashion and Media and Communication. The degree show is an opportunity for invited guests to look at some of the latest car and product designs as well as fine art, graphic design and illustration work from the University’s award-winning students. It’s also an opportunity for businesses to spot future talent. Graduate Richard Shaw (Transport Design, 1984) is now a Chief Designer for Opel/Vauxhall and attended the Show to find new recruits. “It’s a really impressive show,” said Richard who recalled memories of his final year Degree Show. “It takes a lot of hard work to get to this point and I can remember feeling really nervous when I had to do it. I’ve seen some really good work though and will definitely be looking to recruit people from here.”
(Applied Science and Engineering, 1992, Building Management, 1996) Keith Grierson – his support and encouragement was invaluable to me, and Geoff Briscoe [Senior Lecturer in Construction Economics] for his speedy and informative delivery of economics with humour!
(Human Rights and Criminal Justice, 2002) Barry Mitchell [Prof in Criminal Law and Justice] because I admired the extent and depth of his legal knowledge. I also admired his work including the writing of books with other great scholars such as Andrew Ashworth.
Watch highlights from the 2010 Art and Design Degree Show at: www.youtube.com/covstudent
Artist impresses Volvo
ne graduate impressed leading car manufacturer Volvo Group UK so much it has commissioned him to produce work for its offices for the second time. Adam Hussain (Contemporary Craft, 2008) has won awards for his contemporary glass designs and was first asked to produce work for Volvo after winning a student design competition. The architectural glass panels he produced for the company are still hanging in the foyer of its headquarters in Warwick and now Adam is designing a bespoke piece for its boardroom. The latest design ‘Interference’ was installed in October. Adam is showcasing his artwork at a number of events and exhibitions in 2010-2011. Visit www.infiniglass.co.uk for more information.
(Psychology, 2006) Senior Lecturers John Williams and Ian Hume. Both were funny and always kept us entertained. See page 29 to read about Disaster Management Lecturer Ron Mountain and nominate your favourite lecturer on the update form enclosed with your magazine or email the office at email@example.com.
OCUS has started a LinkedIn group for graduates interested in sharing experience and information online. The Friends of Coventry University (FOCUS) group has over 400 members and is seeking more graduates to join. LinkedIn is a social networking site with over 75 million members in over 200 countries and is aimed at helping users create a professional network online. Visit www.linkedin.com and search for FOCUS.
IMPRESSED: Richard Shaw (Transport Design, 1984) enjoyed the show
he alumni office has launched a range of specialist groups for graduates to access social and professional networks and is looking for members to join in and share their experiences. Many of the groups are focused on certain disciplines, such as FOCUS on Law and FOCUS on Media – and are directly aimed at encouraging graduates to professionally network with likeminded individuals.
Two new groups are launching in 2011 called FOCUS on Business and FOCUS on Design and the alumni office is looking for graduates to join. The groups will provide up-to-date information on academic issues, networking events as well as relevant news and information from the design and business industries.
If you are interested in joining or setting up a new group call Kristina Anders on +44 (0) 24 7688 8589 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
raduates interested in helping others further their careers can now take more flexible, distant learning modules as part of a postgraduate Qualification in Careers Guidance (QCG). The course, which has been running for five years at the University, is offered on a full-time and part-time basis. Part time students can take specific modules over a period of time to top up their skills or complete the course in full over the year. This flexible approach has attracted a range of roles and not just those involved directly in offering careers advice said Senior Lecturer John Gough. “Some students are taking the course with a view to changing their career completely – such as managers who want to help people rather than just manage them – while others are just looking to diversify their skills.” The recession has also seen a surge in interest from people wanting or needing to offer careers guidance due to redundancies or changes in roles. Coventry University is the only accredited provider of the QCG in the West Midlands and one of only 11 Higher Education Institutions in the UK that teaches it. For more information email John Gough on john.gough@coventry. ac.uk or visit www.coventry.ac.uk/ postgrad and search for the course.
GIFTED: (L-R) Rupert Bayley, Adam Gore and Lena Cheung in the warehouse in Leamington with some of their bestsellers
The online store offers a range of present ideas to suit different occasions and demographics so, for example, customers can search for ‘gifts for men’ or even ‘graduation gifts’. While the site started off only selling novelty gifts it has expanded It wasn’t until the fifth year of operation that Adam was able to leave full-time employment. “I read a lot of books about entrepreneurship and a lot of people say you’ve got to give something five years. Especially in an immature market, which online retailing was at the time,” said Adam who reached his first goal of a £1m turnover in 2006/7. “It was a massive sense of relief and joy because that had always been my target. As soon as you get to the £1m, you start thinking about reaching £10m!” While Adam was hatching business ideas at University he also met his wife there too – Lena Cheung (Marketing, 1999). Lena, who was also friends with Rupert at University, was living in London and working in marketing before she decided to move back to the Midlands to join Adam’s business as Marketing Manager in 2004. “You hear so many horror stories about friends and family working together and we did have that in the back of our minds,” said Lena who married Adam last year. “But we talked about it for a long time.” The three graduates work out of their large warehouse in Leamington, which looks a lot like Santa’s grotto with its shelves stacked high with gifts. And it’s at Christmas that the place really does come alive – during the festive season last year orders increased from 400 to 10,000 a day. The team are now preparing for Christmas 2010 and hoping to increase orders to 16,000 a day. Add to that their plans to open warehouses in Europe and America, and the company is definitely on its way to Adam’s next goal of £10m. “We’re all going out soon to celebrate 10 years of being in business,” said Adam excitedly. “I always hoped it would be this successful.”
Findmeagift.com is currently recruiting for permanent and temporary positions. Call 01926 818800 or email jobs@ findmeagift.com for more information. IAE continues to support all Coventry students and graduates for more information about how to start and develop a business, text IAE to 60777. Or contact Robin Underhay on +44 (0) 24 7623 6001 or runderhay@cad. coventry.ac.uk
A lack of gift ideas on the high street unwrapped a multi-millionpound business venture for three graduates
to include more personalised items suitable for weddings or christenings. Their best seller is a Record Album Frame for people to hang their LP album covers as art. Adam has a real eye for gifts that people will buy and his insight often surprises business partner and fellow Automotive Engineering graduate Rupert Bayley who joined findmeagift.com in 2008 as Business Development Manager. “I remember when he showed me the Mooncosy, which is basically a blanket with sleeves in. I really didn’t think anyone would buy it, but it’s one of our best sellers,” laughed Rupert. Even when Adam was at University he was searching for a good business idea and regularly pestered lecturers with his latest suggestions.
dam Gore describes himself as the typical bloke when it comes to buying presents – generally leaving it until the last minute and with a less than enthusiastic approach to trailing around the shops. But this inertia sparked a gift of an idea for the Automotive Engineering graduate that has resulted in the creation of a multimillion pound business, got him a wife and the opportunity to work with his best friend too. Not bad for someone who hates shopping. “I thought there had to be a better way to buy gifts than looking in town all day for them so I started findmeagift.com,” said Adam casually about his Leamingtonbased business that now trades globally, employs 28 people and last year turned over £6m.
“We used to have Engineering in Business lectures and I would ask the lecturer about setting up a sandwich business and he was like ‘look, I’m trying to teach you about cars here, why are you asking me about running a sandwich business’. I enjoyed working in engineering but I wanted to run my own company,” said Adam. But it was his engineering education that helped keep the business afloat in the early years. Employed in the day as an engineer for Rolls-Royce Bentley, he spent evenings and weekends in his spare bedroom getting findmeagift.com off the ground. After a couple of years of running the business at a loss, three of the people he had first set it up with decided to leave. Determined to make it a success, Adam took on the business debt, worth £40k, and carried on managing findmeagift.com alone while also working in a new role at Jaguar to try and pay off the debt.
Internships are helping to get careers off the starting blocks and benefiting companies at the same time
raduates are finding it harder than ever to find a job in the current economic climate and in the race for employment, work experience matters. Coventry graduates are taught transferable skills to benefit the workplace, and the advice is working. A recent survey revealed that 91% of Coventry graduates have secured employment or are continuing with further study.* Internships and work placements play a key role in helping graduates secure future employment and also offer significant advantages to businesses too. The Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE) recently allocated extra funding so graduates could afford to take unpaid internships. The University worked alongside businesses in the West Midlands to place graduates in a work placement and were able to pay each participant £1,250 for up to 216 hours’ work with the company. This was a great incentive for small and medium sized businesses that welcomed the graduate resource but did not have the money to fund the placement. The HEFCE scheme was popular and used all the funding available. Although it has now ended, the University still arranges internships for students to help secure careers. Two graduates reveal how work experience helped them to secure a job after graduation.
CAREER: (L-R) Student Anca Po p with her husband Bogdan who is now employed in the UK
(MSc Engineering Business Management, 2009)
Although Bogdan Pop had worked in the building services industry in his home country of Romania, six months after graduation he was still struggling to secure a job in the UK as companies wanted him to have experience in this country. “It was quite a big problem for me,” admitted Bogdan. “In a lot of instances I didn’t even get to the interview stage, so I knew there was something wrong with my CV.” Bogdan had remained in contact with the University’s Careers Service who sent him invitations to career fairs, alerted him to job adverts and encouraged him to attend seminars on improving his CV, creating covering letters and improving interview skills. Most importantly, they helped him find an internship through the HEFCE scheme. “The internship was seen as a work trial basis and the employer, Wensley & Lawz, paid an additional amount of money on top of what I was paid by the University to enable me to be there full-time,” explained Bogdan about Wensley & Lawz, a Coventry-based professional services consultancy that provides Commercial Property Energy Performance Certification (EPCs). Bogdan’s internship was so successful that the company decided to offer him a full-time position. “I have already started preparing to get a professional qualification so I will become a Commercial Energy Assessor,” said Bogdan who also got married this year to Coventry student Anca Pop, nee Stefanescu. “I would definitely recommend it because it improves your experience for interviews, you build up your CV and increase your market value.”
*The Annual HE Performance Indicators report 2009
NEW ROLE: Joe English found an internship changed his career path
“It also helped my final project as I had practical hands on experience, which was quite useful.”
(Automotive Engineering, 2010)
Joe English benefited from a 13-month internship that he took at NP Aerospace in Coventry on a year out from his course. Joe found the experience not only gave him more confidence but also secured him a job immediately after graduation. “I was given a variety of projects to do but I also got to try out different areas of the company too,” said Joe who worked on developing ideas for armoured vehicles that are used in war zones. “It also helped my final project as I had practical hands-on experience, which was very useful.” NP Aerospace also agreed to pay Joe for some of the work he was doing on his dissertation, as the research would benefit the business. And while Joe had been heading for a career in the automotive industry, he thinks the internship opened his eyes to a different career path. “I don’t think I would have thought about working in defence before. I was more into automotive. I’m keen to progress now though and I might take the new MSc in Defence and Security at Coventry too,” said Joe who is now working full time for NP Aerospace and lives in Coventry. “Quite a few of my friends haven’t managed to find work yet so I feel it was beneficial that I went into a placement where they were able to give me a job at the end.”
If your company would like to find out more about offering work experience opportunities contact Careers Services on careers.ss@coventry. ac.uk or visit www.coventry.acuk/ careers or call the alumni office on +44 (0) 24 7688 8589. To find out more about the new MSc in Defence and Security call +44 (0) 24 7688 7091.
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Where are they now? Coventry graduates reveal all
Production Engineering, 1971 and later Economics
I have happy memories of the time I spent both at the old Lanchester and also at Coventry University. My courses covered Production Engineering and later Economics. I also did courses at the University of Birmingham and Warwick College and Warwick University.
I am currently completing an MA in TV Scriptwriting at De Montfort University. I am also writing and appearing in The Cheeky Chappies’ Christmas Cracker show from 14 December to 23 December 2010 at The Belgrade Theatre this Christmas. Visit www. belgrade.co.uk for more information.
Combined Science, 1972
church (celebrating its centenary this year – see www.westcliff-free-church. org.uk) and do more with organising Criccieth Adventure Camp (see www. cricciethadventure.org. uk). I was one of the Class of ’74 graduands who had a special day in November 2009.
Modern Studies, 1987
Working at the University of Lincoln.
Kaw Lam Chong
Building, 1987, European Construction Engineering, 2001
I came to Coventry in 1983 to do an undergraduate degree in Building. I was fascinated with the course, which offered me a chance to learn to make the built environment a place
After working for 33 years in the water industry, I am now retired, except for a part-time job as the clerk to a Parish Council.
Michael David Rhodes
Modern Studies, 1980
I had 12 years with Birds Eye Walls, and since then I have been at Leeds Metropolitan University in a variety of roles, lately in awards and examinations.
Physics and Mathematics, 1974
After 35 years in IT at HM Customs and Excise (now HM Revenue and Customs), I took the opportunity of early retirement last December. I am using my spare time to do some work on the house, help more with our
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of comfort – living or working. I went back to my home country to work after graduation. I decided to come back in 1999 to do my Masters in European Construction in the same department. The course had a very strong cross-nation culture and allowed me to interact with graduates from many different backgrounds. I decided to work and live in this country after graduation. I have no hesitation in mentioning that Coventry University played an important part in my education.
Physical Science, 1988
I am still in research studying radiation effects on electronics. Our second child, Maria Luisa, was born last September. Our first, Daniel, was two in June this year. I became a Chartered Physicist last autumn and should be making my first conference presentation in September.
Dr Terry Mann
Performing Arts (Music Composition), 1996
I am on the shortlist for the £50,000 PRSF New Music Award again – this time for my proposal for the project Automata Musica. My film is online at the PRSF website www.prsformusicfoundation.com. I have been made Honorary Research Fellow at London Metropolitan University in connection with the project.
Health Sciences, 1992
I retired from the NHS in 2009 but continued to do some consultancy work. But along with an old friend, Pat Hayes, I have set up the No 1 Ladies Gardening Agency and work in the suburbs of Leicester and Leicestershire. Our primary focus
is garden maintenance but we are also doing some design work. We have both had a long-term interest in horticulture and I worked in my early days as an Occupational Therapist alongside a Horticultural Therapist and I try to apply my love of gardening and my knowledge of this as a therapy in my current work. We have both recently studied for the RHS Certificate in Horticulture, which has consolidated and enhanced our knowledge and skills. We have
a strong client base of mainly elderly people and we both enjoy our work very much.
Social Work, 1995
I have two beautiful children, Lily, who is four, and two-year-old James. I have a wonderful balance between work and play as a freelance practice educator.
Applied Social Science, 1995
I started Primary GTP with Newman University College and Stockingford Infants School in September 2010. I worked as a Teaching Assistant before that in preparation.
Applied Social Science, 1994
I am the Training Manager and Deputy HR Manager at Nordural (Nordic Aluminum) in Iceland. I also teach sport science (part time) at Reykjavik University. Furthermore, I am part of a TRIUniversity team developing coach education courses online, which is supported by the Leonardo Fund. The universities are: Edinburgh, Copenhagen and Iceland.
Business and Personnel, 1996, Business Administration, 1997
I have just moved house and returned from a holiday to Vietnam and Cambodia.
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Biological Sciences, 2000
After extensive international business travel, I am now back living in the UK with the family – three children Hugh, Bella, Austin and a dog called Boot! Still working in the pharmaceutical industry but recently moved to be partner in a private equity backed biotech (start-up) – so still trying to learn biology! Congrats to Paul Harris who graduated same year at Coventry – he got married in September this year.
Adult Nursing, 1999
Following graduation in 1999 as a Registered Nurse, I worked at University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire before moving into Community Nursing as an Infection Control Lead Nurse in 2007.
Business Law, 1999
I retrained as an ODP at Birmingham City University in 2006-2008 and now (normally) work at Warwick Hospital, but in May I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl – so I am enjoying the joys of motherhood and maternity leave!
year. This was shortly before joining the multi-lingual software support organisation at Alfresco where I was promoted to Support Director for EMEA & APAC regions recently. This has me currently working from the Sydney, Australia, office and, looking out over Bondi Beach, I am pleased that all the hard work for my degree and since has finally paid off. Only now am I starting to see the real value that a languages degree has in modern business.
I am the County Secretary and a Trustee of the Scout Association County of Birmingham where we have almost 6,000 members, two activity centres and county headquarters premises. I also mentor a number of start up businesses and I am a board member of the local area for Young Enterprise, a national educational charity. Additionally I have recently become a Director of an arts charity.
Dr Gillian Kingston
Applied Chemistry, 2002, Environmental Science, 2006
Working at the University of Birmingham as a Laboratory Manager in the college of Life and Environmental Science. I got married in 2009 and had my first child, Edward, last year.
Human Resource Management, 2002
Occupational Therapy, 2003
Since I graduated in 2003, I have returned to France and have found a job as an Occupational Therapist in a residential care home for elderly people. I’m happy to put into practice what I learnt as a student at Coventry. All the best and thanks for keeping in touch with me.
Modern Languages, 2001
I got married to my gorgeous Italian husband Sabino in Italy in August last
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Please send your updates for the next ni@ issue to alum ntry.ac.uk cove
Steven Nicholas Harre-Young
Emergency and Disaster Management, 2008
After doing Disaster Management at Coventry University, I am now doing a PhD in collaboration with the National Counter Terrorism Security Office and other agencies, focusing on counter-terrorism and the protection of crowded places.
Civil Engineering Design, 2004, MSc Civil Engineering, 2010
I have recently completed my MSc, Civil Engineering at Coventry University after graduating with a 2:1 BEng (Hons) Civil Engineering Design in 2004.
Music Composition and Professional Practice, 2005
After graduation I did an internship with the Philharmonia Orchestra in London, where I even got one of my compositions performed by members of the orchestra in a workshop. Following this, I moved to London and for the last four years I have been working at an International Music Agency. I have lived in West London for four years and enjoy it a lot. I have recently been promoted to an Associate Manager and I manage a small list of singers – working with international theatres, singers, musicians and orchestras. I love my job and have got to travel a lot with it too.
International Business, 2005
I work in France for two companies – one which sells therapeuticgrade essential oils and the other which offers the world’s first training in ‘Quantum Aromatherapy’ and medical aromatherapy.
I run my own business making crafts for weddings and occasions, illustrating freelance and making and selling jewellery. l am also currently in the process of writing and illustrating short stories and picture books.
European Studies and French, 2000, Wine Studies, 2009
I have recently completed a Diploma in Wine and Spirits, which I studied in London as part of my job as a Commercial Executive at Thierry’s Wine Services (wine importers). The course was run by WSET in conjunction with Coventry University. I joined Thierry’s in 2001 and have recently been promoted to be an Account Manager. I have also just got married to Richard Brown and we had a wonderful honeymoon in the Canadian Rockies!
Since leaving Coventry I’ve started writing more poetry (I began writing in my final year), completely unrelated to my studies and my job as a manual handling assistant for Liverpool Community NHS! I’ve recently had one of my poems published by United Press.
SUPPORT: The ageing population is looking for more support, (right, top) Usability trials can be recorded, (right, bottom) Working a smart oven using task prompting software for people with cognitive disabilities
solution to assist an ageing society
The impact of living longer is causing major challenges for our society and economy but the University is helping to develop innovative solutions
As part of the i-DEAL project Professor Andree Woodcock in the School of Art & Design has designed a toolkit which gives SMEs guidance on choosing the most appropriate evaluation methods for developing their product and which provides advice on setting up a usability study. The toolkit is a decision support system which asks the SME key questions about their product, based on its stage of development, access to end-users and resources available. The result is a list of appropriate methods, based on the company’s particular circumstances, a help section on what that method is, and links to help the company use that method. It’s a unique and invaluable tool to reduce the risk of new product innovation. Living Division of MedilinkWM. Coventry’s role in i-DEAL, which is funded by the Technology Strategy Board and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, is to support usability trials for new products that the project’s SME partners are developing and to create a methodology to help businesses engage end-users in making ‘fit for purpose’ assistive technology products. The University is creating a clear path for SMEs to develop, test, refine and market new life-enhancing products that meet the needs and design standards of an increasingly discerning public. Testing these innovative new products with endusers helps SMEs optimise the design of a new product and reduces the commerical risk of bringing it to market. Feedback may also stop a company from marketing a new product if evidence shows it would fail. “It’s a very simple but effective support system,” said Sharon. “For only 30 minutes of a company’s time, the toolkit will provide practical help and identify an appropriate evaluation method to inform the future design of their product.” The research team is now putting completed product evaluations through the toolkit to test its reliability and using it to inform future product testing. HDTI is currently considering how to commercialise the toolkit and the School of Art & Design is exploring its potential scope as a teaching tool for design students. In addition, Professor Julie Barlow is working with two West Midlands SMEs to run usability trials at various stages of their products’ development cycle. The three-year i-DEAL project concludes in June 2011 and HDTI is already preparing a plan for how it can use the toolkit and the lessons learnt from the usability trials
he UK population is ageing. The numbers of people aged 65 and over increased by 1.7 million between 1984 and 2009, and the fastest population increase has been by those aged 85 and over. The Department of Health states that by 2030, incidences of chronic disease in the over 65s will more than double. These dramatic demographic changes are creating a range of challenges in the way we care for the rise in the number of older people. The prospect of moving to a care home, or relying on relatives to look after us in our old age, are not options many of us relish (statistics show 87% of us want to say in our own homes). So, as the population grows older, the market for assistive technology that can help us to live more independently for longer, is becoming more competitive. “Assistive technology companies are waking up to the increasing importance of the consumer in the marketplace,” said Sharon Simkiss, Project Manager at the University’s Health Design & Technology Institute (HDTI). “Consumers are looking for products which not only meet their needs, but which also look good and are easy to use.” The Intelligent Design Engine for Assisted Living (i-DEAL) project is a cross-faculty project involving HDTI, the Faculty of Health & Life Sciences (HLS), the School of Art & Design (CSAD), three West Midlands Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) and project lead Alvolution, the Assisted
HDTI brings the University’s research expertise in communitybased therapy into direct contact with businesses. The outcome is a creative approach to project work to develop new products and new systems of care provision. The new Institute houses design studios, laboratories, workshops and test areas where researchers and clients can explore and evaluate new ideas. Visit www.coventry.ac.uk/hdti.
I knew for quite some time that I wanted a career in advertising. The course gave me a broader knowledge of what advertising is. I found that the group assignments were the most helpful in deciding which job role I wanted to do. Trying out different roles enabled me to determine which roles I enjoyed and could be my future job. I also did some work experience in the University’s Press Office, writing copy to advertise the University. I realised then that I preferred to design artwork for adverts.
How did University help your career?
Coventry University has a good set-up for students with disabilities, there is a dedicated team that assists students in all of their needs and that was the other main reason for me choosing this University.
promote her two businesses – I designed some flyers and business cards for her.
I don’t think it is unusual for disabled people to feel like outsiders. I first experienced it when I went to a mainstream college so I wasn’t under any illusions that I might well experience it again when I started university. I found it helped that I began my first year living in catered accommodation because I was able to socialise and make friends with other students in the canteen. It was difficult at first when I had to do group assignments because I found that my fellow students were unsure about me which didn’t really bother me because I knew as time passed everyone would get to know the real me – and they did.
How was University life with a disability?
Graduation is a day that is, and will always be, a landmark in my life. The first thing I did on the day was to put on my cap and gown, which made me feel important. The best feeling was collecting my certificate in front of all the people in the Cathedral. It was the proudest moment of my life so far and it made it more special because I was able to share the day with my parents. Since graduating I have done some promotional work for businesses of friends and family, designing material to promote events – including designing flyers, invitations, business cards and logos. I also did some work for a businesswoman in Florida to
What have you been doing since graduation?
I am going to be the Marketing Manager of Juiceblendz in Central Florida. Juiceblendz is a franchise of juice bars that sells high calorie fruit smoothies and healthy food throughout the USA. My role will be to analyse the local market, conduct a local SWOT analysis and to use my IT skills to design marketing material. My ultimate ambition is to have my own business designing promotional packages for businesses offering a wide range of print advertising.
Can you tell me about your new job in Florida?
At the moment I am playing electric wheelchair football for a team called the Greenwich Power Rangers. I enjoy listening to and making music, I also like travelling.
Do you have any interesting hobbies?
Graduating was the proudest moment of my life
Leon Donegan (Advertising and Media, 2009) didn’t let cerebral palsy get in the way of his career ambitions when he left home for University and now he’s moving stateside for his first job as a Marketing Manager
As a Coventry University graduate, your education is already benefiting you in the workplace. Why not let Coventry continue to enhance your career even after you have graduated?
Postgraduate and part-time study offers you the chance to add a range of specialist skills to your portfolio and advance your career options. We also offer Continuing Professional Development (CPD) training programmes through our School of Lifelong Learning to further enhance your career progression. Come along to one of our Postgraduate and Part-time Open Days to find out about the opportunities:
Saturday 5th March 2011 10am – 2pm Saturday 18th June 2011 10am – 3pm Saturday 3rd September 2011 10am – 2pm
Alumni who would like to arrange a meeting with a tutor at a more convenient time can contact the Graduate Centre for a separate appointment or come along to an Open Day. Subject experts will be available to advise you about our courses and you can have a tour round our dedicated facilities for Postgraduate, Part-time and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) students. Our open days take place in the Graduate & CPD Centre, Jaguar Building on the city centre campus, accessible from Gosford Street, off Junction 3 of the ring road.
For further information and to register, please email email@example.com or visit www.coventry.ac.uk/postgraduate or call + 44 (0) 24 7688 8614
evolve big interview
ANIMATED: A still from the popular children’s series Ricky Sprocket
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Oscar-winning animator Alison Snowden (Graphic Design, 1980) reveals how selfbelief and creative integrity have produced a successful career
urprisingly, Alison Snowden is rather self-effacing. After being twice-nominated for an Oscar and then going on to win one of the much-coveted trophies, you would expect a certain air of bravado. But that’s not her style – neither in her personality or in the films and series she has made with her business and life partner David Fine. Alison has affection for the underdog and in fact her first Oscar nomination was for her first short animated film about a lonely older woman who orders an inflatable man to keep her company. “I’ve always liked underdogs. I was never someone who wanted to write about the most popular kid in the class,” explained Alison, who was nominated for an Oscar only four years after graduating from Coventry, and then nominated again in 1988 for a short film called George and Rosemary about an ordinary middle-aged couple who find romance. “I could never write Friends [popular American sitcom] for example – a group of beautiful people dealing with the problems of being beautiful. I never really related to that. I like normal, regular people.” Despite her modesty, Alison has never let a lack of confidence get in the way of ambition. After Coventry, she applied to the National Film School even though competition was fierce and she had no direct film experience. “Everyone said I would never get in but I remember thinking that you have to buy a lottery ticket to be in with a chance of winning. I was quite shy and never thought I was that good but I really wanted to go there and I had nothing to lose by applying,” said Alison. And she was right. It was an application that would shape her future
WINNER: (top) At the BAFTAs after being nominated for Bob’s Birthday in 1994 with (L-R) David Fine, Nick Park and Alison (below) David and Alison arriving at the Oscars in 1995.
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both professionally and personally as it was here that she met David, who is Canadian, and their partnership began. Although Alison had always been creative, it wasn’t until Coventry that she discovered an interest in animation and film. A foundation course at Mansfield College of Art had led her to the degree in Graphic Design and it was the film making side that caught her attention. “I remember seeing the camera equipment and really wanting to have a go with that. But the general feel of the University was really good and I liked the campus,” recalled Alison who in 1977 moved from Arnold in Nottingham to Coventry and lived in Priory Halls for her first year. She moved to Paradise
“I just wanted to draw because I liked it. I didn’t want to be philosophical about why I’d painted a peach.”
Road after that, which she described as ironic, and enjoyed going out with friends to the Students’ Union. “The campus was good – there were lots of dances. I remember an amazing canteen – and lots of nice puddings!” Although the animation part of the course ignited Alison’s enthusiasm to work in the medium, she nearly swapped courses to study Fine Art. “I remember thinking maybe I should be doing that [Fine Art] as I really liked the way the students would shop in their pyjamas. They seemed to have more fun in their slippers,” laughed Alison. “I backed out of changing courses though because they had to give a reason for doing everything and I just wanted to draw because I liked doing it. I didn’t want to be philosophical about why I’d painted a peach.” This desire for artistic freedom has helped Alison maintain a selfemployed career. In the early days she and David were thrifty. “We always felt we were completely unemployable,” laughed Alison. “We were quite single-minded and when we were directing we would have a really strong feeling about how we wanted to do it. You can either work for someone else or you’ve got to make it. We had that determination – we just wanted to make our own
WORK: (top) A commerical for Smarties that Alison designed in the Carnaby Street Studio (centre) Alison working in Carnaby Street (bottom) A still from Bob’s Birthday
films. We made sacrifices, rented cheap and wouldn’t eat out. We did that for many years to build up to where we are now. Our investment in the beginning was to work on our portfolio and reap the benefits later. It’s a creative choice.” The sacrifices need not be so great for filmmakers now. The advent of better technology has meant it can take just a couple of months to create an animated film that once would have taken a couple of years to make – such as Alison’s Oscar-winning short film Bob’s Birthday. As well as writing the scripts, the scenes all had to be drawn out in pencil, then inked, painted and inked again. A laborious process that computer software has removed. Painstaking as it was, the effort was worth it when the couple won the Oscar in 1994. “We were really nervous. It’s scary – especially when they tell you how many millions of people are watching. Once they call your name, something happens. It’s an out-of-body experience. You go backstage and everyone’s taking your picture, and you think ‘it’s over, we’ve won!’ That’s exciting,” said Alison who acknowledged, glamour aside, how beneficial the award was to help further their careers. “People will at least let you pitch ideas and consider you seriously – ‘the Oscar-winning couple’. People see it as a qualification.” The success of Bob’s Birthday, which was originally funded by Channel 4, led
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SPROCKET: A film strip from Ricky Sprocket
to the animated series, Bob & Margaret. The stories were about the humdrum lives of a suburban couple. Alison and David developed the series in London, where they were living at the time, and ran their own studio on Carnaby Street. British comedians such as Harry Enfield (pictured right) and Steve Coogan did some of the voices for them but its popularity grew more in Canada than the UK and eventually much of the work moved over there due to more generous budgets. The couple have switched between the two countries, finally settling in Vancouver with their 12 year-old daughter Lily (who is the original voice of children’s character Peppa Pig as Alison is friends with its creator Mark Baker). They have won a stack of awards and collaborated with people such as
their pal, Nick Park (Wallace and Gromit creator), with whom they went to film school and helped develop the Aardman series Shaun the Sheep. Their latest successful venture has been a fantastical children’s series called Ricky Sprocket and they are now planning to develop an animated adult sketch show with one of their comedian friends. Ideas are also underway for
an animated feature film. “I could dream about something happening and I’d think ‘if I have thought it then maybe it’s possible’ so I’d take the best route towards making it happen,” said Alison who works from her home studio. “People can say ‘oh the economy is terrible’ and they can’t get work – but people do. Just make sure you’re the one who gets the job. Be too good to refuse. Have a plan and keep your eyes on the prize.” Maybe living on Paradise Road was more prophetic than ironic.
Lived: Priory Halls and then Paradise Road. Favourite pub: The Students’ Union. Friends: Good friend Ann Routledge (now Thompson) who I still keep in touch with. Favourite memory: I just remember campus life being so good. And those puddings!
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from king about photos think you were as wittily entitled this one, the old days. Well m June 1969. ks R Us, dates fro Drun t the finals of the las The last exam of (Econ) on External BSc University of Lond tually leted, this was (ac at The Lanch comp l night in the origina iday not an atypical) Fr bar. Students’ Union s after a couple of week Our exams were or less had the we more the ‘internals’ so as just to ourselves. But place turned up quite about everyone was quickly a party atmosphere all (honest!). generated as I rec erested, I Should you be int about everyone can name just u are looking in the picture. Yo blished at many a PhD, pu d llege principal an academic, co or two. rker possibly even a wo ciest title I had on The fan r Academic my door was Senio means that I have Tutor, which mean that enjoyed - and I do ively rewarding a long and mass including career in education m out everything fro just ab Lecturer’. Two primary to ‘Poly the Oxfam years attached to
s in ent included spell Education Departm bia, life-changing lom Guatemala and Co experiences. uple gether in Cov a co Three of us got to ce (and that old pla . of years ago – the looking very good es the city itself) is includ 69) (Economics, 19 Keith Glazzard 1967, Social Rag Committee Kinks, /8 (booked The Secretary 1967 ff Beck ood Mac, Je Cream, Fleetw weekly paper itor of Phoenix etc), Ed for a term
Waterstone’s is the UK’s leading academic bookseller, with a comprehensive range of course books, textbooks and professional titles at highly competitive prices. The shop stocks an extensive range of academic books from the UK and abroad, with an expert team on hand to help.
Waterstone’s, Coventry University, Frederick Lanchester Building, Gosford St, Coventry, CV1 5DD, or visit other Coventry branches in Cathedral Lanes and the Lower Precinct.
Please send letters to Letters, Development Office, Coventry University, Priory Street, Coventry, CV1 5FB
VISIT: (l-r) Arzmi’s daughter, Alumni Relations Offi Kristina Anders, Arz cer mi Yaacob
alaysia has a long educational relationship with Britain due to, among other reasons, historical past, and the relevance of British education with the demand of Malaysian industries and the quality of the programmes offered. I took pride when my daughter headed to Britain for her studies at the University of Kent on a Malaysian Government scholarship. While visiting her in June I took her to Coventry where we stayed for four years when I pursued my PhD.
I showed her my study room on the fourth floor of the William Morris building. We went to the Alumni Office where I met some officers who were kind enough to entertain us. Of course there were a few souvenirs that I bought to update my collection from my alma mater. I often reminisce about my daily routine as a PhD student. Leaving my home early in the morning, heading towards my study room or the library. At the weekend it was shopping time especially at the car boot sales, buying whatever was useful to lessen my financial burden. I was also a season ticket holder of Coventry City Football Club and on Saturday afternoons I would head towards Highfield Road. Coventry was then in the Premier League. I still follow their progress. My time at Coventry was a fulfilling one. Not only did I get what I was sent for but also, equally important, my children received a strong introduction to education. My warm regards to the staff of Coventry University and to the people of Coventry. My family and I remember them with fondness. None of us faced discrimination or serious problems while we were there. May our friendship be ever lasting. Arzmi Yaacob (PhD Coventry Business School, 1998)
hank you for my Waterstone’s voucher. I quite fancy investing in a Graham Sutherland book. I studied his work during A-Level art and it was yet another reason I wanted to go to Coventry because his work adorns the Cathedral. Lynden Campbell (European Law, 2002) Winner of last issue’s star letter.
(Applied Social Science,1973) started at Lanchester College in 1969 and was involved in the student newspaper throughout his studies.
Student media has changed a lot since the sixties but the printed newspaper still lives on. Two graduates share their experiences
TOP OF THE WORLD: (main pic) Chris from his days in the Mountaineering Club and (inset) Chris today.
should have left in the spring of 1972 with a BA (Hons) in Applied Social Science. Regrettably, this didn’t happen until the spring of 1973. One of the reasons may have been because I spent too much time in the Phoenix newspaper office, which was next to the coffee bar in the basement of what was then the library/administration block opposite the Cathedral. On my first day, I had no ambitions to work on a newspaper but was persuaded to meet a friend in the
newspaper’s office. The friend never turned up but the paper wanted a cartoonist. I had spent some time in an art school so I stopped on, drawing cartoons, headlines and adverts and then reporting and writing articles too. The paper reported on the important things of student life, the elevation of the college to Polytechnic status, the merger with Rugby College and Coventry College of Art and in March 1970, the introduction of CNAA degrees and the unplanned lowering of a lamp post through the roof of the sculpture studio in the College of Art! It reported visits from Margaret Thatcher (then Minister of Education), Sir Adrian Boult, Sir Alec DouglasHome and the unidentified prowler in
the ladies showers. Politics of the day were different. Apathy got mentioned but then so did Cyprus, Biafra, Ulster and South Africa – especially as the visit by the South African rugby team to Coventry provoked anti-apartheid protests. It included all important issues such as Rag Week, entertainments and coverage of all the usual student sports (including tiddlywinks – the Polytechnic tiddlywinks team used to practise in the Phoenix office). There was a women’s page and if there were no women available to write it one of the men was told to listen to the Jimmy Young programme on the radio and base a write up on that. Beer seems to have been one of the most important topics. When I say that prices seemed to range from 1/11d to 2/6d (10p - 12½p) a pint I’m sure that younger readers will sit up. Times changed. In March 1971 decimalisation saw the Phoenix’s price go up to 3p, but it was losing money. Issue no.54 dated 17 March 1972 priced 4p is the last issue I can trace. The first illustration which I did for The Phoenix was of Alan Richmond, the principal – he had just received his knighthood (pictured left). We thought it was vital for students to have their own newspaper. I wonder if that feeling still exists and whether older students remember the paper.”
(Journalism and Media, 2009) started at Coventry University in 2006 and became Vice President Communications for the Students’ Union in 2009. He has just been re-elected by students to serve a second year.
am in charge of all of the media and communications side of the Students’ Union, which includes The Source newspaper, and I oversee some of our media societies such as Source Radio and CUTV, which is our broadcasting society. I’m in charge of social media for CUSU, things such as Facebook and Twitter, and I have editorial control over our website.
Students write most of the content for the newspaper, and I have a team of four sub editors, each in charge of different areas of the paper – news, views, entertainment and sport. We interview the volunteers and choose the best people for those roles. This year we have taken on a student editor. It’s a voluntary role, alongside their studies, but will be great experience. I’m still editor in chief but it enables me to step back from the operational side of putting the newspaper together. Stories we have covered recently have been the Students’ Union re-brand and after we printed the news, we used our online platforms to encourage students to vote for a new logo. We also ran a campaign against the students’ bar being put out to a third party supplier – and managed to overturn the decision. We have recently invested a lot more money in the paper and changed printers to improve the quality. We also put a PDF version of the newspaper online and have started Source Online, which is a news blogging website.
1960s Paper facts
Name: The Phoenix Staff: All volunteer students Pagination: 12 Frequency: Fortnightly Price: 6d (2½p) Print run: 1,000
COMMUNICATOR: Dez Cutchey juggles student radio, the website and the newspaper to meet the communication needs of today’s students
We still produce a students’ newspaper because it’s still one of the best ways to communicate with students and let them know what’s happening in the SU and the University – and in the local area. Students are still more likely to read the newspaper than they are to go to the CUSU website, but we are investing more in online to make it the predominant form of communication. Most universities still produce a printed newspaper and I still see a place for it in the future. It’s traditional and a lot of people
are used to picking up an actual, physical newspaper. Our print run will probably decrease with the rise in technology, but I don’t think it will die out altogether. There’s still a place in people’s hearts for print. When the newspaper is back from the printers I feel joy and relief. It’s a unique feeling because it feels more permanent than anything I do online. You know that people are going to see your work everywhere – even if they don’t realise you have done it. When you see someone reading a copy, it gives you real pleasure. It’s something to take pride in. I guess the role has changed a lot because of technology. I handle a lot more now but back then the paper would have been harder to do. There was no internet to do fast research, there were no mobiles to make calls on
the go, they had to do the design themselves and manually deliver disks to the printers. Now it’s easier to do it because it’s expanded digitally. Although it’s got easier, it’s just meant we have taken on more.” Visit www.cusu.org to find out more about student communications.
2000s Paper facts
Name: The Source Staff: One paid (and elected) Vice President Communication, Designer (paid staff member who works for SU), Communications Manager (paid staff member who works for SU and collects advertising for newspaper), volunteer student editor and team Pagination: 24 Frequency: Monthly Price: Free Print run: 4,000
I studied Human Geography at the University of Toronto – at the time, the social science-based programme came as a revelation to me. Four years later, armed with a Bachelor’s degree, I wanted to start work, but since Canada was in the midst of a recession, I decided on a Master’s degree and went to York University (also in Toronto) and into an innovative, interdisciplinary Environmental Studies programme. Another four years later, I graduated and started work as a Policy (Town) Planner in a small city in the middle of the Canadian prairies. Although I enjoyed the work, the wider world beckoned! I chose to do a second Master’s – in Government – at the London School of Economics (LSE). The study of political theory proved to be a formative influence on my intellectual development. After that, it was time for a change and time to earn some money!
Where did your academic career begin?
At Coventry, we had just two undergraduate courses, with some 100-150 students, the year before I arrived. Now we have a wide range of programmes – several Bachelor’s courses, a CPD Emergency Planning Diploma, CPD Masterclasses, and three Master’s programmes – with some 200-250 students! Changes in the environment – outside the University – have been and continue to be very significant. The current climate of financial austerity and the demand for efficiency is affecting both higher education and emergency/disaster management service providers. But there also continues to be a demand for qualified, competent emergency/disaster managers, arising from legislative changes in the UK and from growing public expectation for effective intervention into increasingly frequent and serious disasters – both domestically and abroad.
How has your work at Coventry University changed since you arrived?
After a short stint as a Policy Analyst with the Greater London Council, I moved to the London Fire Brigade and made the transition from town planning to emergency planning. The Unit, there – staffed almost entirely by senior ex-military officers – was quite a change from student life at the LSE! Most of my work over the next 15 years involved writing emergency plans and preparing for possible major industrial accidents. I maintained an academic interest, however, and in 2001 when Coventry University was expanding its range of emergency/disaster programmes, I decided to move back to academia – but this time as a lecturer, rather than as a student.
How did you move into disaster management and emergency planning?
Aspects of my job bring satisfaction, including seeing students demonstrate a growing understanding of the subject matter and an ability to make sound academic arguments. I tell my students that I’m ‘50% academic and 50% practitioner’. I enjoy integrating theory and practice – my approach to teaching and, indeed, my career at the University, reflect this background. When a graduating student beams with pride about what they have accomplished or when, as occurred in a recent meeting, an external academic who maintains close contact with the UK practitioner community exclaims that Coventry University has transformed the face of emergency planning in the UK – I feel that all of my hard work over the past nine years has been worthwhile.
Do you enjoy your job?
“My hard work over the past nine years has been worthwhile”
Canadian-born Ron Mountain brings valuable experience as a practitioner into his role as Senior Lecturer in Disaster and Emergency Management 29
of respondents have visited the FOCUS website but 27% of you didn’t know you had a dedicated website! It’s updated regularly with news about the campus and graduates, information on exclusive benefits, old photos and stories, as well as essential careers advice – make sure you are not missing out and visit the alumni website today at www.coventry.ac.uk/alumni
Thanks to everyone who responded to the recent alumni survey – your responses are helping to shape your association
The magazine for Friends of Coventry University
a hotel break and membership to the Gourmet Society
to offer a placement
Class of ‘74 graduate
Finally celebrating their graduation – 35 years later
Man for all
How TV weatherman John Kettley graduated from Coventry and became a household name
of respondents said they find all articles in evolve appealing and more than half read it for longer than 25 minutes! Also, 95% said they enjoy reading about the University’s developments and finding out about other graduates. Nine-in-10 said they found the content of the e-newsletter interesting. Keep sending your news!
Over half of you said you value the discounts and benefits on offer to you as a FOCUS member. As well as discounts on days out and eating out – the savings made on booking a cottage holiday with cottages4you is popular. See pages 38-39 for a full list of all your exclusive benefits and services.
A helping hand
Nearly half of all respondents said they would consider recommending or have already recommended Coventry University to future students and more than a third said they would give careers talks or offer work placements. FOCUS is always looking for volunteers – so if you’re interested in talking to students about life as a Coventry graduate or could offer a work placement – just email alumni@ coventry.ac.uk and let the team know. If you haven’t got much spare time but want to support Coventry students in some other way, you can donate to the Phoenix Fund, which helps students with bursaries and scholarships among other things. Contact Brian Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org or donate online at www.coventry.ac.uk/alumni and visit the Support section.
A massive 89% of respondents said they are satisfied with the service they receive from FOCUS. That’s great news but there’s still room for improvement and FOCUS is looking at every suggestion alumni made in the survey to make things even better. Here are some of your requests and an update on how they are being dealt with. “I’d like to see a job vacancy section on the website”
No problem – the website already includes information about searching for graduate posts and internships (visit the Careers and Learning page under the Benefits section). You will find links to the Careers Service as well as to the University’s recruitment agency thefutureworks. It’s also worth checking www.prospects.ac.uk – the official graduate careers website.
“I’d like to see reunions organised by periods instead of years”
The alumni team are happy to help you arrange a reunion for your course, sports club or society, your graduation year or decade – you name it FOCUS can help. Just contact Kristina Anders at email@example.com with requests.
A quarter of respondents said they were encouraged to search for old friends after reading a copy of evolve. The alumni association’s Find-a-Friend service is a popular way to search for friends. Visit www.coventry.ac.uk/alumni to find friends. You will need to log in with your username and password to access the FOCUSonline area.
“I’d like the website to be easier to use”
FOCUS relaunched its website last year but after adding so many new sections for graduates, it’s time for a new look and structure to help you search around easier. The new website will be launching later this year. Look out for the revamp – or subscribe to FOCUS E-News so you know when it’s live (just email SUBSCRIBE to firstname.lastname@example.org to subscribe to the e-newsletter). “I’d like more focus on international issues” Over the last year the team have been working more closely with the International Office to arrange more events. You can read about the recent reunions that were held in Lagos and Beijing on pages 34-35.
he practical side of education inspired Neil Carson at The Lanch. Being able to apply the theory to real projects sparked a successful career with one of the w orld’s leading companies in advanced materials technology and propelled him to the top position at the FTSE 100 company. Neil started at The Lanch in 1976 and liked the fact the lecturers had worked in industry. “The thing that I’d been missing at school was the way that these lecturers could relate why we were doing this stuff. That set it alive for me so I worked pretty hard,” said Neil who still found time to play rugby – becoming Chairman of the rugby club in his fourth year and reaching the Polytechnic Cup Final one year too. “We were like most rugby clubs and a bit loud, but nothing too controversial,” said Neil. “It gave me a really good group of mates that I am still occasionally in touch with today. I had a really good time. It was hard work in the day, an hour in the library, and then off to the Hope & Anchor with my mates.” The hard work paid off and Neil secured a position as a Graduate Trainee for Johnson Matthey in 1980, among graduates from Oxford and Cambridge. It was Neil’s ability to roll his sleeves up and get on with the
RUGBY: Neil (back row, fourth from the left) with his rugby team at The Lanch.
job that has seen him travel the world with the global business and progress through Johnson Matthey to become its CEO. “Practical, pragmatic, common sense – these are skills that are essential in business. A lot of people who have an academic qualification do well in business but the more practical courses are better preparation. Business is really simple. If anyone tries to make out its complicated, they’re probably wrong,” said Neil who is proud of his achievements. “I consider myself very lucky. When I joined Johnson Matthey, I never imagined I was going to stay more than two or three years. My wife and I moved around a lot, sometimes we didn’t really want to but we did. That’s part of the benefits now, as I was seen as someone with broader experience – and that
helps,” said Neil who is also using his experience to benefit Coventry’s new London Campus by being part of its Global Advisory Committee. His input as a large employer of engineers and scientists will be invaluable and his business sense will help with the practical aspects of the running of the new campus. “I applaud the innovation of Coventry to do something new. They have done their research and there looks like there is a gap in the market so I’m happy to support it,” said Neil who is also impressed that the London Campus is offering an unrivalled work experience package. “One of the things that Coventry excels at is that it’s good at getting people jobs. It focuses on the more practical elements of education. I really like that aspect of Coventry and that’s why I’m really happy to help them. Job experience is a really
Pragmatism and common sense are what Johnson Matthey’s CEO Neil Carson (Engineering, 1979) believes are essential business tools
valuable thing,” said Neil who also believes universities have a role to play in supporting business with Research and Development (R&D). It is an area that is the lifeblood of Johnson Matthey – especially in its role with the car industry and the move towards fuel cell technology. “We’ve been putting at least £10m a year into fuel cells for the last 20 years and advancing the science because we recognise that one day the internal combustion engine will be used less and batteries and fuel cell vehicles will be used much more. We’re starting to make some sales of our fuel cell catalysts and we see that as a good long term growth prospect for our business. You’ve got to be first, you’ve got to be ahead of the competition.” said Neil, who still finds the company as exciting as when he first started over 30 years ago. “We’ve just done a 10-year plan for the business and we’re looking at lots of new products,” said Neil. “I’ve got a brilliant job. I’m in a position where we can make things happen.”
“Practical, pragmatic, common sense - these are skills that are essential in business.”
eunions have been taking place all over the world in the last few months with graduates enjoying getting back together in Nigeria, China and Hong Kong.
reunions alumni events what’s on
A round-up of reunions and events that have been happening on campus and across the UK. Visit www.coventry.ac.uk/alumni/events to keep up to date online with future and past events
President of Coventry University’s Nigerian Alumni Society Anthony Ajibosin said: “It was an exciting event, we were able to establish and cement relationships.” In Beijing, around 30 alumni attended an event called an ‘Evening with the VC.’ It was an opportunity for alumni to hear from the Vice Chancellor Madeleine Atkins and network with other graduates. It was a smaller event in Hong Kong where Sarah Jephcott from the International Office discussed ways the University could help alumni with their careers. Sarah said: “It was a great evening. Everyone was keen to get involved in events in the future.”
Contact email@example.com for more information about international reunions.
Reunited for 40th birthday
ive graduates who played together in the University football team reunited on campus in February for one former team mate’s 40th birthday. The group of friends lived and played together in Coventry from 1988 to 1991 and have met up regularly since graduating. This year, it was the wife of Kevin Stanford (Mathematics) that instigated the reunion in Coventry as a surprise for his 40th birthday. Andy Gabe (Communication Studies), Scott Moore (Economics), Alastair Sellar (Modern Studies) and Sid Khan (Computer Science) all waited in the Lloyds pub in Coventry to surprise Kevin. “A lot had changed,” said Andy who now runs his own travel company Absolute Escapes. “The Colin Campbell looked different and the SU isn’t the same one. Kevin was very surprised and we had a brilliant time.”
In Nigeria, more than 50 people gathered together for an event in the city of Lagos. The networking event included speeches from Coventry University’s Regional Manager, Africa & Middle East, Tim Hunt (below left) as well as a talk from graduate Olabisi Sotinwa (Economics, 1997). Tim told alumni and Nigerian dignitaries from the education and financial industries about the developments at the University – including the opening of the new London Campus.
If you would like to arrange a reunion back in Coventry or further afield contact Kristina Anders on firstname.lastname@example.org.
good time to see the guys again, to have a drink together and of course play sport – it’s brilliant. It’s what you go to University for and it’s good to carry it on,” said Richard who is now a Business Manager with the anti-virus company Kaspersky, based in Chesterfield. After a day of playing in the sunshine, the sports teams congregated in Bar 54 in the Students’ Union for food and the official awards ceremony. The Cheerleaders also performed a routine on the stage for everyone. Everyone received medals for taking part, and the alumni captains got to hold up the shield for 2010. Visit www.coventry.ac.uk/alumni and click on events to see more photos and news.
The next Sports Day takes place on Saturday 4 May 2011. Don’t miss out – book your place by contacting Kristina Anders on email@example.com.
lumni thrashed the students at the annual Sports Day in April where over 200 people joined in the fun back at Coventry’s sporting venues. Alumni and student teams from cricket, rugby, athletics, men’s and women’s hockey, men’s and women’s football and badminton fought it out to see who would be crowned the 2010 winners. Alumni won in all of their matches apart from the athletics and the men’s football team who lost to the students in a decider game. The annual event has grown in popularity every year – attracting sporting graduates back to play with their old teams in an effort to beat their student counterparts. Richard Foulkes (Business and Finance, 2007) said coming back was about reuniting with old team mates as well as playing sport. “This is the second time I’ve come back. It’s a good laugh, a
Book yourself in for any of the events happening on and off campus.Visit www.coventry.ac.uk/alumni/events for the most up to date information October
As part of the Meet the Business Prof series, Prof. Jon Billsberry speaks. Time: 1pm Place: William Morris Building
My life is one long documentary
Listen to Paul Watson, legendary documentary maker. Time: 1pm Place: Ellen Terry Building
1985 Geographers Reunion
Celebrating 25 years since graduation and organised by Jenny Walsby – contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Time: 1pm (later 6pm) Place: Elastic Inn (later Old Windmill on Spon Street).
It’s just not cricket..
Hear from sporting Tim Lamb Former Chief Exec England and Wales Cricket. Time: 1pm Place: Ellen Terry Building
Join in the annual sports day event where alumni take on the students. Time: 12pm Place: Westwood Heath
Spooky Ghost Tour of Coventry
Family Halloween event, children welcome. Price: adults £5 and children up to 13 years £2.50 Time: From 4pm until 6.30pm Place: Alan Berry Building
Reunion for all alumni living in Malaysia. Time: TBC Place: Kuala Lumpur
Prof Tom Donnelly talks in the Meet the Business Prof series. Time: 1pm Place: William Morris Building
FOCUS on Law dinner
Join fellow law graduates for an evening of fine dining in a beautiful Medieval setting. Time: 7pm Place: St Mary’s Guildhall
1975 Graduation Reunion
A special event for 1975 graduates. Time: 12pm Place: Coventry Cathedral
Local Radio is fun!
A talk from Tom Reeves (Mercia FM) and Mark Powlett (BBC C&W – TBC). Time: 1pm Place: Ellen Terry Building
Reuniting Class of 75
Calling all 1975 graduates of the Lanch
It has been thirty-five years since the class of 1975 left the Lanch and to celebrate FOCUS is inviting them back on campus during graduation week. The event will be held on 26 November and is a chance to meet up with old friends and staff, and see some of the changes to the University. There will be an afternoon graduation ceremony in Coventry Cathedral at 2.30pm, where academic achievements will be publicly recognised, followed by a special dinner at St Mary’s Guild Hall from 7pm. As well as pre-dinner drinks graduates will have the chance to have photographs taken professionally with friends and classmates as a souvenir. Tickets for the Dinner are £35 per person and are available online at the University’s Online Shop or from the Alumni Office. For more information email Kristina Anders, Alumni Relations Officer, at email@example.com or visit the events section of the alumni website.
C4:Home of Quality News/ Current Affairs
Dorothy Byrne Head of News/CA Channel Four TV. Time: 1pm Place: Ellen Terry Building
Building Meerkat Manor
Mark Wild (Animal Planet) talks. Time: 1pm Place: Ellen Terry Building
WIN A CRYSTAL
Enjoy a classic piece of memorabilia from Coventry University with a beautiful crystal, cut glass decanter. Yours to keep if you win this issue’s competition!
THREE runn We also have rsity ventry Unive prizes of a Co e up give away. Th to Goody Bag ies led with good fil bags are all ing cards, iversity play her such as Un pens and ot g, w a luggage ta rekindle a fe to branded gifts ories. student mem
IZES RUNNER UP PR er
The outside of the decanter is engraved with the University’s logo to remind you of student days. It’s a beautiful memento that could be pride of place in your home and could even be used the next time you have University friends over to visit. We also have THREE runner up prizes of a Coventry University Goody Bag to give away – see right for more details. To be in with a chance of winning any of these great prizes, just unscramble the name of the famous author who was born near to Coventry and whom one of the University’s buildings is named after:
Please send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org or post to Gourmet Comp, Development Office, Coventry University, Priory Street, Coventry, CV1 5FB by the closing date 10 January 2011.
Terms and conditions No cash alternative will be offered. The editor’s decision is final.
Benefit from your connection to the University and get discounts on useful services listed below. Visit www.coventry.ac.uk/alumni/benefits for more information or call the alumni team on +44 (0) 24 7688 8589
Up to 55% off the UK's top attractions, such as The Alton Towers Resort, Chessington World of Adventures, LEGOLAND® Windsor and LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre Manchester, Madame Tussauds London, the Dungeons, SEA LIFE centres & Sanctuaries, THORPE PARK and Warwick Castle. Call +44 (0) 871 222 4001 and quote Alumni along with the date of your visit. Exclusive Open Fairways Offer – save up to 50% on your green fees at over 1800 golf courses around the world with the Open Fairways Privilege Card. Join today for only £59 and start saving. Log onto www.openfairways.com/joinnow or call +44 (0) 28 9039 3990, quote offer code COV10. Enjoy 2-for-1 meals or 25% off your bill – including drinks – at thousands of UK restaurants with the Gourmet Society Dining Card. Fantastic discounts at over 4,000 leading restaurants across the country. Annual subscription usually costs £53.50, but FOCUS members can join for just £27.95 and get two months extra FREE. Visit www.gourmetsociety.co.uk and click JOIN NOW using the promotional code: COV or you can join by phone by calling +44 (0) 800 043 1978 and quoting the same code.
Save up to 10% on car and van hire with Europcar. To make a reservation please call +44 (0) 871 384 1082 and quote 50359650. This discount applies to all hires taken in the UK and includes cars, vans and prestige vehicles. Save up to 30% on AA Membership at enrolment and 10% at renewal* from the UK’s No. 1 choice for breakdown cover. Call + 44 (0) 800 048 0075 and quote reference Coventry 627.
*Terms and conditions apply. Please ask for full details when calling.
Save 35% on RAC Breakdown Membership for you and your immediate family at enrolment.* Call +44 (0) 800 581 077 and quote GE0542.
*Terms and conditions apply. Please ask for full details when calling.
Up to 10% discount on advanced bookings for airport parking and airport hotels in the UK. Visit www.parking4less.co.uk/alumni or call +44 (0) 871 360 2131 and quote WY705.
Stay in the four-star luxury of the Ramada Hotel in Coventry – Gold Award Winner of the 2008 Godiva Award for “Best Hotel” in Coventry and Warwickshire. Discounted rates start at £49 for bed and breakfast. Call +44 (0) 24 7623 8110 and quote Coventry University Rate (or call the alumni office for larger group bookings). Save 10% on a holiday with cottages4you. There are 14,000 properties throughout the UK, Ireland, France and overseas. Visit www.cottages-4-you.co.uk/coventry or call +44 (0) 845 268 1282 and quote ALUM10 when booking.
• Discounted Library membership – only £20 per year. Call the alumni office for more info on +44 (0) 24 7688 8589 • University Sports Centre – for discounts on full to basic membership, ask at the Centre. Call +44 024 7679 5992 for more information • Associate membership of the Students’ Union – call the SU on +44 (0) 24 7679 5200 for more information • Careers advice and graduate vacancies, see www.coventry.ac.uk/cu/careers or email email@example.com or call +44 (0) 24 7615 2525 • Business start-up support from the Insitiute of Applied Entrepreneurship (IAE). Text 60777 IAE or call +44 (0) 24 7623 6001 • Join Coventry University Wine Club – call +44 (0) 24 7688 8161
evolve At Your Service
The magazine for Friends of Coventry University
Hot off the press
How student media has changed since the sixties The University’s innovative ideas for supporting an ageing society
As a Friend of Coventry University, your membership includes: • evolve – the bi-annual alumni magazine • Member only website at www.coventry.ac.uk/alumni • A monthly e-newsletter • Invitations to reunions and events • Free find-a-friend scheme to help trace old friends • Free live@edu email address.
a University r crystal decante or one of THREE goody bags!
How Graphic Design graduate Alison Snowden’s love of the underdog earned her an Oscar
e Gift Shop
Round Crystal Paperweight Coventry University’s Book Cuff Links Mini Cut Vase Satin Notepad and Mirror Tankard Business Card Case
Remember your student days with pride and buy special souvenirs branded with the University name or logo.
It’s now even easier to choose from our selection of high quality goods by shopping online:
If you wish to make purchases by mail order please contact Jackie Walsh, Alan Berry Reception, Coventry University, Priory Street, Coventry CV1 5FB. Telephone 024 7688 8774 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
Please note: refunds are only available where goods are faulty, statutory legal rights are not affected. Goods will be delivered within 21 days of receipt of order. If you are not fully satisfied, goods may be returned within seven days for a full refund. Prices are valid until December 2010.
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