On 8 December, a glassy and elegant section of London’s high-rise business district turned into an outpost of the University of Hull for an evening of professional alumni networking.
Making the most of a prestigious 10th floor space in the Shard, the event brought together many of our most senior alumni from the worlds of business, finance, law and politics in order to create new connections and refresh old ones.
Four inspirational speakers addressed attendees on a range of topics ranging from professional to institutional interests.
First up was the Chair, John Dore (English, 1990) founder of Wave your Arms and former Head of Global Marketing at HSBC. John used a series of striking images to highlight both the inner-reluctance of people to engage in networking and the value and rewards that can accrue to them when they finally take the plunge.
John handed on to Liam Donnelly (Classics, 1972), our key note speaker for the evening. Liam spoke to his professional expertise on the vexed issue of ‘Why Big Systems Fail?’ This was a broad-ranging presentation taking in multiple case studies, including the comedy of errors that was PPARS; an Irish Health Service commissioned payroll service with an estimated cost of £8m that was suspended after an expenditure of c.£131m. Drawing on leading examples and his own experience of project conception, planning and management, Liam’s presentation was both humorous and deadly serious, highlighting the long-term suboptimal results of weak planning and convoluted ownership.
Professor Kathryn Haynes, Dean of the Faculty of Business, Law and Politics set out a coherent vision for the future of business studies at the University of Hull. Using a new strategic alignment of business, law and politics within a single faculty, Kathryn detailed how the Business School plans to reinforce its role as a leading UK business school and enhance its international reputation for research, learning and teaching. Kathryn also highlighted the context within which the business school needs to operate – a fast-changing, interconnected world where integrity is important
Rounding off the presentations, Dr Ben Butler, Head of Alumni and Supporter Engagement spoke about the need to ensure that alumni business networking could also reach those alumni who, like John and Liam, entered business careers from non-traditional subjects of study. Ben also outlined the key benefits of alumni networking highlighting, in particular, the ability of new graduates to inject fresh and sometimes challenging ideas into the network.
Ben also reached out to attendees to sustain and grow the network through the provision of prestige central-London venues, speakers and connections and indicated that this was the first of many such events that the university are planning to run over the next years.
Following the presentations, the group continued to network and to develop ideas around presentation themes and key venues for future events. The evening ended in Oblix, a 32nd floor cocktail bar in the Shard where remaining guests merged with the throngs of revellers who had arranged their office Christmas parties with a panoramic view of the London skyline in mind.
Above all, the event perfectly encapsulated our vision for future alumni networking – conceived by alumni, facilitated and provisioned by alumni and for the benefit of alumni.