On parade

The University of Bath alumni blog

Topic: Get Connected

Getting Connected in Hong Kong

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📥  Get Connected, International, Uncategorized

Alumni panel - Get Connected Hong Kong

Alumni panel - Get Connected Hong Kong

This was a week of firsts, from my first landing at Hong Kong Airport in a Level 8 typhoon to my first Thai iced tea (somewhere between an iced coffee and pumpkin juice).

The purpose of this trip was to bring a new offering to our graduates living and working here. My mission? To deliver Hong Kong’s first ever Get Connected event. From Bath to London to New York, we have had great success with these alumni networking evenings, but now it was time to look even further.

With some 1500 Bath alumni living and working in the city, we have a wonderfully strong and enthusiastic community here in Hong Kong with a great breadth of experience and sector knowledge. Despite being some 6,000 miles from Bath, there is a real sense of family amongst out graduates here and this is what it’s all about. The Get Connected events are about making the network ‘work’; utilising the alumni ‘family’ to learn and get ahead and I was really excited to help them do this.

So on Tuesday, with the Typhoon disappearing north and the normal humidity returning to the air, I head over to Exchange Square, the illustrious home of the city’s Stock Exchange, where we are lucky enough to be using the auditorium for our panel discussion. As guests and alumni panel members start to arrive I’m told by many that being allowed inside this building is an experience in itself, adding a great buzz to the atmosphere! This alone goes to shows the power of the Bath community, having been offered this amazing venue by one of our Honorary Graduates in Hong Kong, Sir CK Chow.

The panel seated on the stage is made up of five graduates, all of whom are incredibly successful in their respective fields. Each was kind enough to give up their evening to share their professional experiences and insights and they didn’t disappoint. With 40 eager faces in the crowd we kicked off the discussion, hearing from each panellist in turn as they imparted the best and, indeed, worst points of their careers and their sound advice for starting out and progressing in the world of work.

The audience was a great mix of graduates from across the years (including a 1970’s engineer!) and I was really pleased to see a number of our third year placement students in the crowd as well. Questions from the floor were plentiful and judging by the unwillingness of people to go home, I think it’s fair to say that a huge amount was gained by all.

In true Hong Kong style, business cards were swapping hands left right and centre, then it was back out into the bustling metropolis to fight off the humidity on the journey home. I have a feeling that this Get Connected Hong Kong will be the first of many.

This event wouldn’t have been possible without the help and enthusiasm of Chapter President, Vivian Ching,

Get Connected Hong Kong

Get Connected Hong Kong

and our fantastic Chapter Committee and, of course, our panel members: Mickey Ko, Martin Cerullo, Andy Li and Susan Khua.  I’d like to thank them all again for their support.

 

Getting reconnected with Bath

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📥  Get Connected, International, Uncategorized

Action for M.E. CEO and Bath alumna, Sonya Chowdhury, recently volunteered her time and expertise at one of our ‘Get Connected’ events. It was the first engagement she’d had with us since she graduated in 1998, but within 24 hours of the event she had booked plane tickets to attend the World Health Assembly summit as a guest of the CEO of the largest cancer fighting organisation in the world. Read her story below. 

Being asked to speak on a panel at the ‘Get Connected’ event in London about working in the charity, NGO and policy sectors not only gave me a chance to share my experience, but opened doors that I would never have expected to be there for me.

The Chair of the Panel, CEO of the Union for International Control of Cancer and alumnus [and recent honorary graduate], Cary Adams, spoke with me after the event and invited me to Geneva. Little did I know that 24 hours later I would have plane tickets booked and four days at the World Health Assembly summit at the United Nations in my diary.

Sonya Chowdhury

Sonya Chowdhury

This was an incredible opportunity for me to develop a greater understanding of how policy and decision-making happens at a global health level. From a personal perspective, the insight and learning was immense and I couldn’t possibly have got as much from just reading about the systems or structures in place. Alongside this I received a masterclass in CEO networking from Cary (who was phenomenal to watch in terms of ‘working the room’) and benefited from being introduced to a number of influential and inspiring individuals.

I don’t know how much you know about M.E., but it’s an illness that quite literally steals lives; a long-term neurological condition that affects many of the body’s systems and leaves children and adults with extreme, persistent exhaustion and a range of nasty symptoms including cognitive dysfunction, sleep difficulties and pain amongst many others. Many of the 250,000 people in the UK will M.E. describe being trapped; existing but not living.

Politically, M.E. has a very low profile in the UK (it’s different in the Netherlands and the US) so finding a way to mobilise people and significantly increase the profile of M.E. is critical. Having the opportunity to gain a better understanding of how we might do this through engagement at World Health Assembly level, and exploring how to build networks and create a bigger collective voice, will ultimately benefit people affected by this devastating illness. Supported by Cary, I am now developing a proposal for a five-year plan to achieve just that, and build on the collaboration work we are already undertaking such as establishing an International Alliance of leading charities across the globe.

The Panel was my first real engagement with Bath Alumni since I left in 1998. I am surprised and delighted by what it has offered me, personally and professionally, as well as the potential for people with M.E. and the charity that I run. Hopefully, there will be more to come!

 

Get Connected - charity, NGO and policy careers

📥  Get Connected

In what proved to be a very interesting and entertaining evening of discussion, an experienced panel of non-government travellers discussed the virtues of pursuing a career in a sector which offers much more than most expect.

As Dr Cary Adams (BSc Economics with Computing and Statistics 1985, MBA Business Administration 2002), Chief Executive Officer, Union for International Cancer Control, explained,“For me the perfect job is one which pays you, you excel at, you have a passion for and has a social impact”.  It was clearly a good description of the variety of roles which his fellow panellists had and continue to fill.

Theresa Lloyd (BSc Economics & Administration 1968), an ex-city banker who has become an industry guru on philanthropy, talked through the need for business acumen in the not-for-profit sector. She emphasised the importance of hard work, spotting and taking advantage of luck and being brave when you have to be. She impressed on all the need to be bold and to recognise that being educated is simply not enough. “You have to add value to be successful in this sector,” she said.

Sonya Chowdhury (BSc Sociology & Social Work 1998),Chief Executive, Action For M.E, stressed that educating yourself, volunteering and constantly challenging yourself would create opportunities in a sector which rewards passionate people who bring value. She said, “It’s a competitive sector and you have to be unique. I’m looking for people who come alive from that piece of paper called a CV.”

Belinda Phipps (BSc Applied Biology 1980), Chair, The Fawcett Society, welcomed any young graduate to the sector if they thrived on dealing with trouble! For her, non-government organisations and charities were calling out for core business skills and this ranged from strategic planning to basic IT management skills. But whilst specific skills were required, those wishing to work in the charity sector should be prepared to “be a jack of all trades”.

During the lively Q&A session, the panellists emphasised their enthusiasm for being in the sector. They would not return to the private sector, and encouraged all to look into careers in a sector which is wonderfully diverse, with many challenging and rewarding roles for ambitious, passionate self-starters.

The Human Rights Action Centre, Amnesty International, London.

The Human Rights Action Centre, Amnesty International, London.