President’s Update – a Christmas message 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