History of the McFarlane Dollar

The McFarlane Dollar arose out of a lighted-hearted bet between Alexandra Chapman (MBA 1988) and John McFarlane (MBA 1975) in January 2012.

John was “sceptical” as to whether Alex could succeed in getting media coverage for the Scholarship in the mainstream Australian press, something that thus far the alumni had failed to achieve. Alex challenged John to a bet. John accepted and set the terms, a “substantive piece, mainstream media” and the stake—$1dollar.  Perhaps, given John’s career as an eminent Scottish banker, we should more correctly describe the $1 stake as the Value-at-Risk (VAR).

Alex won the bet (of course), the excellent piece in The AFR 20 Feb 2012  written by  Joanna Mather of The Australia Financial Review was the result, from which we received many registrations of interest, including one from Aashlesha Venkatachalam who then went on to win a TwentyTwelve Scholarship. Who knows what the positive consequences will be in the longer term?

Considering the bet as a risk management exercise, from John’s perspective, the VAR was small, but when assessing the certainty of loss – John may have either (foolishly) thought he could not possibly lose or (more wisely), knew that he certainly would. Either way the resultant press coverage increased awareness of the Scholarship  and Cranfield alumni to the benefit of our aims both immediate and for the longer term.

Alex collected her $1 coin from John at the May 2012 dinner (evidence provided right) and has, of course, framed it.

However the $1dollar bet, which was light-hearted in intent, triggered a much more serious debate between Steve Wood (EMBA 1994), second CAASF President and Alex, first CAASF President around an important subject:

Each year if we are to build  the Scholarship and the Foundation from strength to strength, we must “raise the bar” in all respects in what we are doing – even in an area that might seem quite small but which in the longer term could have far-reaching positive consequences.

So Alex and Steve decided to immortalise the bet by creating a perpetual award called The McFarlane Dollar to recognise “Outstanding Contribution” to CAASF over the longer term – as way of keeping us all focussed on our aims for the Scholarship and the Australian Alumni group.

John McFarlane (MBA1975) , Alex Chapman (MBA1988), Steve Wood (EMBA1993) with the McFarlane Dollar trophyAt  a cost far greater(!) than $1 dollar, Steve purchased a “mint proof” coin to be embedded in the trophy – which he and Alex  designed with space for forty five names – a further confirmation that we alumni plan for the long term.   The award also acknowledges John’s generosity in underwriting the scholarship – without which we would never had got off the ground all those years ago. It does (sadly) also put on record that John has now lost a bet, apparently only the second time this has occurred. (We hope that this does not cause too much damage to John’s illustrious career and reputation in banking circles). It also means that John should have passed his centenary birthday before we run out of space on the trophy.

We hope that to be a custodian of The McFarlane Dollar will be seen as an honour for the great contributors to the Cranfield Australian Alumni Scholarship fund.