Reflections on a decade of effort for our Cranfield Australian Alumni Scholarship
How our Cranfield Scholarship started…
Our journey started in November 2005, when we received an email from Cranfield School of Management, offering a Scholarship place for the MBA programme aimed at increasing the number of Australians on the MBA.
That email triggered a thought process – perhaps we could use such a scholarship to address issues facing our Australian Cranfield alumni, namely:
- Diversity in age, interests and experience and limited alumni numbers spread around the continent made it challenging to create a vibrant and meaningful alumni community;
- Almost no community activities, apart from events organised by School of Management alumni in Melbourne and the occasional drinks with visiting faculty in Sydney;
- Non-existent recognition of Cranfield and the value and quality of its education in Australia;
- A large body of alumni – almost 1000 in Australia as we subsequently discovered – who shared and benefited greatly from their “Cranfield experience” but who had little reason or opportunity to come together;
- Little engagement between alumni and the University once their studies were completed and limited contact information apart from the Cranfield Management Alumni database.
When the opportunity came, it meant that:
- A scholarship could provide a catalyst to build an Australian alumni community with a unifying purpose;
- We could use the scholarship to attract talented Australians to Cranfield;
- We could grow the reputation of the Australian Cranfield alumni and to mutual benefit, awareness of Cranfield University and the School of Management as well.
This would create a virtuous cycle.
“We alumni are the beginning and end of a virtuous cycle in which
excellence and diversity in the student body leads to increased richness and quality of learning;
which in turn feeds the success of the graduates and Cranfield University as an academic institution;
and then delivers a stronger and more vibrant alumni community to act as role models to attract more outstanding students.”
A piece of cake really…
Except, for a group of volunteers, the workload was (and still is) enormous. A small group of alumni came together to tackle it, just like a WAC. We went back to basics in terms of how we built the end-to-end processes to find talented candidates, select the winner and the many things required to support our endeavours.
- Created our scholarship for “leadership and management development for talented Australians who are passionate about Australia and want to contribute to its future” and awarded nine Scholarships;
- Started to grow a purposeful and welcoming community for alumni of all Schools;
- Built a pipeline to find talented Australians and show them how the Cranfield experience can accelerate their professional and personal development;
- Established relationships with organisations who could spread the word about our scholarship to their talented employees;
- Held numerous alumni events and nine gala award dinners;
- Sent eighteen talented Aussies to Cranfield and with several more likely this year;
- Defined our ethos as “pay it forward” to encourage beneficiaries to actively support the Foundation and ensure it will strengthen and grow into the future;
- Influenced Cranfield University to appreciate the value of the alumni community and then supported its efforts to rebuild engagement with the international alumni community;
- Located alumni based in Australia by referral and through LinkedIn;
- Increased awareness of the Cranfield brand and reputation in Australia.
Where to now?
Over the past ten years, we have met many of the alumni through the events that we have held. One thing has become clear – we may be small in number, but we certainly “punch above our weight.” Indeed, Cranfield alumni in Australia hold positions of influence across a diverse range of industries and organisations.
Simply put, Cranfield alumni make a difference.
So, the next phase of our evolution will most likely centre on:
- Supporting efforts to launch the Cranfield Trust, which can provide a vehicle for alumni to contribute their time and skills to valuable and worthwhile causes (more about this to come);
- Expanding our scholarship activities with Cranfield’s support to other Schools & programmes of the University;
- Increasing the number of indigenous Australians in our pipeline;
- Continuing to strengthen our community with the support of Cranfield University;
- Continuing to grow the reputation of Cranfield alumni in Australia.
Meanwhile Cranfield University continues on its own journey of transformation, strengthening the institution and the Schools academically, building brand reputation and engaging with the alumni community.
All of these activities will take (perhaps) another few years.
There is a Buddhist saying “When you are facing the right way, all you have to do is walk.” It’s our view that the University, the Schools and the alumni are now all facing the right way. And, all we have to do is continue on our journey.
So, the question for all of you is…
How would you like to contribute and shape the future of the Cranfield alumni in Australia?
We would greatly welcome your thoughts & feedback by return email or by posting to the LinkedIn discussion here.
Cranfield Alumni International President for Australia
PS A reminder to book for the Brisbane and Melbourne Alumni events | Tuesday 22 March & Wednesday 23 March
Click here to RSVP (there is no charge for the events)