2014 Scholarship Award events

Stephen Williams |Alexandra Chapman | John McFarlane, Chairman of Aviva

The 2014 Award Events—AGM, The Insiders View and the Award Dinner—were held at The Langham Hotel Sydney on May 26 with almost 50 attendees including the Scholarship Board, Patron John McFarlane and his wife Annie, the three finalists, and Alumni, partners and guests.

Sixth Annual General Meeting of the Cranfield Australian Alumni Scholarship Foundation

Stephen Williams (MBA 1993) reported on progress in 2013 for the Scholarship Foundation and the changes occurring at Cranfield University, which are seen to be very supportive of the Alumni.

Cranfield University and the School of Management: The University has a new Vice Chancellor, Sir Peter Gregson and Professor Joe Nellis has been appointed as Director of the School of Management (SoM), succeeding Professor Frank Horwitz who stepped down after almost five years in the role. Both Sir Peter and Joe have articulated plans that will reshape the future of the University and the SoM.

Cranfield is reorganizing itself to engage with industry, students and Alumni as one University rather than five individual Schools. In particular, the value added by a strong and engaged Alumni community to the strength of the Cranfield brand is now clearly recognized. The Alumni relations model from the School of Management is now being extended for all Alumni across all Schools worldwide. 

The Alumni Community: Our efforts to grow a strong vibrant Australian Alumni community are highly regarded by Cranfield and our model has been held up as a pioneering one for the University by Sir Peter Gregson. Since 2012, with Cranfield’s support, we have been actively seeking out Alumni from all Schools of the University to include in Alumni activities, with the Scholarship acting as a catalyst for regular events and the annual Award Dinner.

The Australian Alumni Scholarship: Since the Scholarship’s inception in 2007, 14 talented Australians have attended the full time MBA through our efforts and support. Consistently each year, our finalists have been of such high quality that the runners-up have been offered part scholarships. Our most recent students, 2013 Scholar Daniel George and 2013 Outstanding Candidate awardee Kevin Ha, are both doing extremely well.

Fundraising: The Scholarship comprises the fee contribution, currently £35,000, and a cash component targeted at $20,000, but dependent on actual Alumni donations received. To-date most donations have come from senior Alumni, most notably John McFarlane our Patron who underwrote the Scholarship to kick-start it. In the future, we expect the beneficiaries of our Foundation to become a growing source of future donations to sustain the Scholarship through the ‘pay-it-forward’ ethos embedded in our philosophy.

Recognition for the Australian Alumni activities: Alex Chapman, Vice President was presented with the prestigious Alumni Service Award at the School of Management’s Annual Awards dinner held in February 2014 at The Royal Society, London. for her tireless commitment to the Alumni community and to the University.

Further details of the AGM can be found in the Sixth AGM minutes (available when completed) and 2013 Annual Report .

The Seventh AGM will be held in Melbourne May 11 2015

The Insider’s View – “The problem with being Safe…”

Adrian Rowland, presenter of the 2014 Insider's View, with John McFarlane OBE and Stephen Williams, President of the Scholarship Foundation

Adrian Rowland, presenter of the 2014 Insider’s View, with John McFarlane OBE and Stephen Williams, President of the Scholarship Foundation

Adrian Rowland, Director of Safety and Risk at Tigerair Australia provided a briefing to the Alumni and guests on a topic which touches every organization and every aspect of life – Safety.

Adrian started by defining “safety” and explained that it was not about removal of risk (e.g. an airline keeping its planes in the hanger) but rather about managing safety through risk assessment, training, systems and equipment. Adrian then illustrated the concept with images of two rock climbers – one with the correct gear and safety practice and the second, an ill-equipped – apart from camera – photographer attempting to capture the image of a lifetime, most likely his last, perched on the edge of a rock canyon.

Adrian then showed footage of the Piper Alpha disaster in 1988 and explained how a maintenance procedure gone wrong, for which fire protection systems had been temporarily disabled, triggered the incident, but then poor processes and a rig designed for oil but re-tasked for gas without prior analysis of risks posed by its design, escalated the incident into a fireball with enormous loss of life, the total destruction of the platform, and financial losses mounting into $billions.

The contribution of human factors to safety was illustrated by the Mars Orbiter, which after a 9 month voyage from earth costing upwards of $0.5billion, crashed on entry due to a simple mistake in entering the correct landing parameters.

Adrian made the point that while safety management is seen most often as a cost, the capability and culture that goes with effective safety management are the same as those needed to be a good business – i.e. the ability to identify risk and implement successful changes to address it. The cost of a safety failure can be enormous.

For the session, Adrian drew upon his extensive experience in aviation and safety. Adrian graduated from RAF College Cranwell with the Alastair Black Memorial Prize and was Dux on each of his Operational Conversion courses in the RAF and RAAF. Adrian has studied Psychology at Leicester University, Aviation at UWS and Safety Management at Cranfield University. Aside from his extensive military flying career spanning more than two decades, Adrian has served as safety advisor to the Chief of the Royal Saudi Air Force, held the position of Safety System Specialist at CASA and most recently was Executive Director Safety Improvement at the Independent Transport Safety Regulator, before he joined Tigerair Australia as Director of Safety and Risk.

An excellent Q&A concluded the session. We hope to repeat the session for the Melbourne Alumni later this year.

Annual Dinner and Awards Presentation


Following the Insider’s View, pre-dinner drinks and canapés were served in the Drawing Room and Alumni gathered to catch up and meet this year’s finalists.

This year we have started a new tradition, which is to capture all past Foundation beneficiaries – Scholars and finalists –  in a photo with our Patron John McFarlane. We hope that by the time we get to our twentieth year, this will be an impressive honor roll indeed.

Thence to dinner. Continuing our tradition that past Scholars act as Master of Ceremonies, David Scollon, 2012 Scholar – only recently returned from a stint in London working for NAB post-MBA – welcomed John, his partner Annie, the Alumni, guests and this year’s finalists. David then spoke briefly about his year at Cranfield and the effect that it has had on his outlook and perspective.

David then introduced a message from the Vice-Chancellor Sir Peter Gregson.

Again, following traditions established in previous years, the first seat move mixed up the tables. Again as in past years with our Alumni – a group of highly educated and highly intelligent people – chaos reigned.

David introduced the three finalists – Craig Kitto, Robert Sutton and Andrew Ireland – (with an unintentional but funny mashup of their bio details in which Craig discovered unbeknowst to himself that he was a father) and invited John McFarlane to present the awards.

Craig Kitto, a mechanical engineer with Aurecon was announced as winner of the Eighth Cranfield Australian Alumni Scholarship, 2014.

Robert Sutton, program manager, Raytheon Australia was awarded an Outstanding Candidate Award by the School of Management.

Andrew Ireland, architect and property advisor was awarded a Fees Bursary by the School of Management Each recipient gave a short acceptance speech, which allowed the Alumni and guests to see for themselves just how impressive this year’s finalists were (and reminded everyone involved that seeing such high quality finalists is the reward for all the hard work of running the Scholarship).

John McFarlane gave his annual speech which focussed this year on the enormously positive changes underway at Cranfield.

Each year, at the dinner, we play a video message from previous year’s winner & finalists. Each year the challenge is to be bigger and better than the previous year.

Finally, Stephen Williams, President of the Foundation gave a short speech of thanks.

2014 Awards: Board member Mariee Durkin-Beech was awarded The McFarlane Dollar for her enormous behind-the-scenes work organising the award events, the annual report and updating the Alumni database. All essential tasks which are quite invisible but which present our public face to sponsors and the Alumni.

Browyn Fulton received the President’s award for her important contribution to our Scholarship selection process. This she does on a voluntary basis, managing to fit it in around her time-pressured “day job”. Bronwyn adds the external perspective, unseen by most, ensures consistency in our selection process year-to-year.”

The Silent Auction organised by Phil Reid was a great success although one of the auction items (a certain bottle of single malt ) did not actually make it home in the bottle! And there ended a great evening. 

The next Award Dinner will be held in Melbourne in May 2015.

2014 Award Event Photos