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President’s Update – a Christmas message 2013

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Dear Alumni and Friends of the Scholarship

I last wrote to you in August this year,  following our successful May events: AGM,  Award presentation and gala Dinner in Melbourne. Now I wish to provide a further update as we approach the start of the festive season and the end of another year.

Our 2013 Scholarship students Daniel George and Kevin Ha, have both started their studies at Cranfield and by all accounts have settled in, are acquitting themselves well and are representing Australia and the Scholarship Foundation with pride and distinction. Their performance thus far in early WACs and debating competitions is very encouraging!

2013 Scholarship winner Daniel George, finalists Grace Lai & Kevin Ha with the CAASF Board

2013 Scholarship winner Daniel George, finalists Grace Lai & Kevin Ha with the CAASF Board

Our 2012 students (David Scollon, Ben Elias and Aashlesha Venkatachalam) have all very successfully concluded their MBA and are making the transition to life post-MBA. We understand David is staying in the UK for the time being with NAB; Aash has started a role with Santander, also in the UK, while Ben is back in Australia with a new role with NAB. Collectively, the 2012-ers have been great ambassadors for the Scholarship and Foundation whilst at Cranfield. If you haven’t already seen David’s final blogs and the 2013  video, I would strongly encourage you to do so – both great stuff! Daniel will have big shoes to fill with his blogging efforts.

Change continues at Cranfield and the School of Management, with the recent announcement from Frank Horwitz that he will step down as Director of the School at the end of 2013 after five years, to take a professorial role at Cranfield. The new Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Sir Peter Gregson, is keen for the University to increase engagement and improve alumni relations and so the SoM’s alumni function is to be expanded to cover all of Cranfield – an acknowledgement that the Alumni of the University as a whole have not been engaged as greatly as they could have been.

This is pleasing for us in Australia to hear, as much of what we have been doing locally – in terms of alumni engagement and our efforts with the Scholarship and Foundation – is now recognised as a guiding example of what can be achieved by alumni. Alex Chapman attended the Alumni Volunteers Day at Cranfield in October this year, with newly anointed alumni volunteers from round the globe, and presented a case study of our Scholarship and Foundation initiative (see the presentation here), which was very warmly received and seen as an inspiration to others.

The good news is that the SoM’s alumni model and processes are now being rolled out across Cranfield University, to provide a means to strengthen the connection between the university and all of its alumni. In Australia, we have already been seeking out Cranfield alumni from other Schools – who share our “Cranfield Experience” – to strengthen and invigorate our alumni cohort here.

As far as the Board is concerned, we trust that necessary changes at Cranfield and the SoM are well executed as planned and that we see the brand of Cranfield University, the School of Management and our MBA both recognised and externally ranked as being outstanding in the quality of its learning.

At the local level, we have the ongoing challenge of funding the cash component of the Scholarship. 2013 was our first year without the underwriting support of our Patron, John McFarlane. We were able to send Daniel to Cranfield with a full $20,000 Scholarship payment, but it was very tight. For 2014, the success of our fundraising efforts will determine the cash component of the Scholarship – although it remains the Board’s very firm target to provide the same amount as in prior years.

I want to personally thank all Alumni who contributed towards the work of the Foundation – be it through providing precious time or hard cash. Your contribution this year exceeded previous efforts and we will need similar commitments next year for the Scholarship to continue to thrive. Your Board continues to think creatively about how to broaden fundraising options and welcome any suggestions you may have. We are also researching simpler ways for donations to be made. A refreshed appeal will be made to you all early in 2014 and we look forward to your continuing support.

In time we expect the Scholarship to become a more sustainable cause as the previous winners and beneficiaries of the Scholarship grow in number and they ‘pay-it-forward’ as part of their commitment to the future of the Scholarship.

Please keep the following dates for your diary: the President’s Lunches (which I will be hosting for alumni, industry guests and media) and Meet The Alumni sessions with be held in Melbourne 4 Feb and Sydney 6 Feb and the Award dinner will be held in Sydney this year on 12 May. If you would like to suggest guests for the President’s Lunches or attend yourself, please email me.

In closing, on behalf of the Board, I wish you a very enjoyable festive season with your family and friends. My personal message to all Alumni and Friends who support our Scholarship – which gives us purpose and acts as catalyst for networking and engagement – is that your support is greatly appreciated. Thank you.

My warmest Season’s Greetings to you,

Stephen Williams MBA 1993

President, on behalf of the Board of Cranfield Australian Alumni Scholarship Foundation


President’s update – August 2013

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Dear Alumnus

It is over a year since I took on the role as President of the Scholarship Foundation and it is now time to reflect upon and summarise the year’s progress.

2013 Scholarship

This year, we have again seen a very strong field of diverse and talented finalists. We congratulate all finalists and announce Daniel George as the winner of the Seventh Cranfield Australian Alumni Scholarship, 2013. The runners-up, Kevin Ha and Grace Lai, have both been awarded Outstanding Candidate Scholarships by the School of Management.  

Thus far, 12 individuals have benefited from our endeavours since the Scholarship’s inception 7 years ago, and have graduated and joined our Alumni network. With this year’s awards it would be fair to say we are now on the verge of having built a self-sustaining and extremely worthy cause.  Cranfield’s willingness to consistently offer additional part scholarships to our finalists is testament to our ability to identify and short-list only the highest calibre candidates. 

Cranfield’s brand

We continue to build relationships with relevant media and key third parties with the ambition of promoting Cranfield and the Alumni.  Boss magazine featured our 2010 Scholar, Todd Myers, and in February I hosted two lunches, one each in Melbourne and Sydney, attended by key influencers in major Australian corporations, respected educational media and senior Alumni.

Alumni activities

On the back of Phil Reid’s efforts we have reinvigorated activities in NSW, with a number of events during the year including a whisky tasting (!), a session with Andrew Kakabadse (to be repeated again) and a number of lunches.  Soon, we will be undertaking our first event in Canberra.  

More broadly, we have activated a widespread campaign via LinkedIn to connect with all Australian based Cranfield Alumni.  This has revealed a total network approaching 1000 Cranfield Alumni across all schools.  We will be assessing how best to leverage and work with the community during this next year.  

At a global level, with the CMA being disbanded, Cranfield School of Management has reorganised its support for Alumni in ways that we trust and hope will be beneficial to us as we seek to build awareness of the Cranfield brand in Australia. 

2013 Scholarship Award Events

A very successful and well attended Fifth AGM (Minutes & 2012 Annual Report) and Award Dinner were held in Melbourne on Monday 27 May at The Windsor Hotel. Simon Bunde’s (MSc-L 1992) Insider’s View on “Dealing in drugs – following the money trail in Australia’s $10billion dollar drug trade” was entertaining and warmly received.

Just shy of 60 attended the Award Dinner, including our Patron John McFarlane and his wife Annie. Each year John reserves a spot in his calendar to be in Australia to present the awards to the finalists.  Phil Reid was this year’s winner of “The McFarlane Dollar” for his efforts towards reinvigorating Alumni activities in NSW. Graham Baws (a late cancellation as his wife Philippa broke her ankle just a few days before the dinner) received the President’s Award for his services as Treasurer over the last 7 years.  You can read more about the events and see the photos here.

Scholarship Foundation Board 

There have been some changes to the Board of the Foundation.  Secretary Alpa Parekh resigned from the Board as she relocated to Singapore and has been replaced by Mariee Durkin-Beech. Alex Livingstone stepped down just prior to the AGM to be replaced in Queensland by Todd Myers (2010 Scholar).  Anna Baggoley (2011 Scholar) has joined the Board as our UK representative as she has recently taken up a new consultancy role there.  I believe the direct involvement of younger blood and recent winners and beneficiaries will keep the dialogue at the top table fresh, relevant and help ensure the Scholarship and the Foundation endures. 


When I assumed the role of President in May 2012, I highlighted that an overriding task would be to achieve funding independence for the Scholarship.  Our Scholarship remains one of the most valuable (upwards of A$70,000) available to any Australian wishing to study overseas.  A substantial component of that value is the cash contribution of A$20,000 the winning candidate currently receives towards expenses.  The Board believes this to be a distinguishing feature of our offering (our USP!) and we are firmly of the view that it broadens the population of those able to seriously consider taking a year out to study. 

During the Foundation’s embryonic years, John McFarlane, our Patron, provided essential underwriting support to fund any gap between our own fundraising activities and the A$20,000.  Now that we are established, with a cadre of winners and a strong pipeline, John has determined that it is time for him to support other charitable needs and the Board is of the view that sustainable independence moving forward should now be achievable. 

However, this will only be the case if we match a more rigorous and disciplined approach to fundraising with a desire from the Cranfield Alumni as a whole to more directly and actively support and fund the Scholarship.  Without this, the Scholarship in its current form will be in jeopardy.  For 2014 applicants, we have already adjusted our commitment for the amount of the cash component to be limited to what our fundraising activities raise. 

Enormous gratitude is extended to John McFarlane for all his early help in establishing the Scholarship and his subsequent financial underwriting assistance in the intervening years – John was instrumental in the creation of a very worthy legacy.  It is now up to us and those coming after to ensure it continues – not just for John but also for all of us who have struggled – and succeeded – as a result of our association with Cranfield. 

We will be in touch shortly to ascertain your willingness to help with our cause.  There is already a loyal core of Alumni who actively support the Foundation, but current levels of fundraising need to be significantly improved upon if the Scholarship is to survive in its current form. Simply put, if all Alumni in Australia donated just $100, we would far exceed our fundraising target.

In closing, I would like to say to all Alumni and Friends who support the Scholarship – which gives purpose and acts as catalyst for networking and engagement – your continued support is greatly appreciated. 

Thank you

Stephen Williams MBA 1993

President, Cranfield Australian Alumni Scholarship Foundation

Honour Roll of previous Scholarship winners and Finalists.

AFR 20 Feb 2013 Interview with John McFarlane

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

Straight-talking Scot John McFarlane, the former head of ANZ Banking Group, has urged Australians to shed their negative attitudes to management education.


Source: Australian Financial Review

AFR 20 Feb John McFarlane

AFR 20 Feb John McFarlane

Top 50 business thinkers

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

Professor Andrew Kakabadse has been named one of the top 50 business thinkers in the world.

Andrew Kakabadse is professor of international management development at Cranfield University’s School of Management, in the UK, and one of the world’s leading experts on top teams, boardroom effectiveness and governance practice. His interests range from leadership to international relations and government.

Read more

Source: Thinkers50, Harvard Business Review

The 100 Best-Performing CEOs in the World

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

Our Patron, John McFarlane named one of the 100 Best-Performing CEOs in the world by Harvard Business Review.

MBA Program Rankings

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

Cranfield ranked 3rd in the world for accelerated MBA programs by the Wall Street Journal.

The ranking is based on how the programs fared in surveys of students and alumni, including how they were rated in skills and leadership enhancement and alumni impact.

Read more

Source: Wall Street Journal

Beyond the comfort zone

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

Ok, so I’ve been at Cranfield for 3 months now. Term one is complete, Christmas has come and gone and term two has commenced. During this time I experienced snowfall for the first time; became an amateur touch rugby player, football player and salsa dancer; reinvigorated my interest in a number of international business issues; acquired an interest in economics; and best of all, built friendships with some truly talented, inspirational fellow students. My most crucial learning from term one concerns the dangers of my own comfort zone.

It may seem clichéd, but from day one the stage was set for us to stretch beyond our comfort zones and in so doing, experience more, learn more and hence, grow faster. I’m an upbeat, optimistic person, who has lived life predominantly in the present, facing challenges as they arise, and always finding happiness in the situations I found myself in. I’m not afraid of challenges and do accept opportunities as they arise, so I didn’t think I was constrained in any tangible way by my own comfort zone … until one of my MBA colleagues challenged this belief.

His view was simply that contentment is dangerous as it leads to complacency, while discomfort is desirable, as it compels us to push harder, try alternative approaches, and ultimately, achieve more. While I saw some merit in this perspective, it nonetheless conjured memories of the sadness I have felt in seeing friends forever failing to acknowledge and enjoy their own successes, due to their perpetual, singular focus on their next goal. As with most things in life, a balance is undoubtedly ideal. I felt compelled to experiment, so for the remainder of term, I attempted to suspend my fears and engage in activities I’d never been game to try before (eg touch rugby).

While I’m still unclear as to where to draw the line between contentment and challenge, I must confess that my term one experience was all the richer for this shift in attitude, not least with respect to the rich friendships I’ve built through reaching out, opening up and interacting on a deeper level with others.  In a more general sense, I’ve found that keeping my eyes on the horizon has extended my awareness of the possibilities surrounding me, yet this hasn’t dampened my appreciation for the innumerable blessings already active in my life. As term two commences I’m actually looking forward to pushing myself and seeing how much more I can achieve.

Welcome to the Blog

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Hi folks. I’m writing this blog to share some of my experiences as a Cranfield MBA student. My predecessors (Sarah and Rob) have captured some fantastic information for prospective students regarding the application process and daily life here at Cranfield. With this blog, I’ll endeavour to contribute by sharing some of the key insights I’ve gained through being here.

First things first … who am I and what am I doing here? Well, I’m a fun-loving, active Melbournian who has been working in IT for an investment bank for the past 7 years. I love to learn (I’m interested in almost everything), particularly when it involves exchanging stories and bouncing ideas around. In future, I’d love to play some small role in slowing Australia’s “brain drain”, perhaps by helping new, innovative businesses to survive and thrive in the Australian market.

I’m here at Cranfield to learn about business and management (of course) but also to broaden my perspective through meeting amazing people from all around the world and sharing stories with them. This year, I’m subscribing to Jackson Brown Jnr’s philosophy: “Let the refining and improving of your own life keep you so busy that you have little time to criticize others.”

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