Parade Profile: Edward Wal (BSc Economics & Administration 1970)

Posted in: Humanities & Social Sciences, Parade profiles

Having spent a career in marketing and sales, and running his own business, Edward now supports Gold Scholarships at the University. He tells us about his favourite Bath pubs, what he learned from placements and why you shouldn’t be afraid to disagree. 

Why did you choose to study at Bath? 

The main reason was that the course was economics and business administration. Importantly, it was a sandwich course and there were two periods in a work situation, where you could apply some of the theory learnt on the courses. I came for an interview at Bath – in those days everyone was interviewed – and immediately fell in love with the city. I had never been anywhere like it.  

  

Did you have a particular career in mind when you chose to study Economics & Administration?  

I always felt my destiny was business in some form, and so I was naturally interested in economics, general management and sales. I was trading from about the age of 11 and was making a profit even then! 

  

Can you tell us about your experience of studying here? Any favourite memories, or places to go on campus and in the city?  

I always felt privileged attending Bath. I was in the University table tennis team and we visited other universities such as Cardiff, Exeter and Bristol. I always felt Bath was both big enough and small enough to cater for all my requirements.  

I was also Deputy RAG Chairman one year and we raised a lot of money for some great causes. Pubbing and parties were the order of the night. One of my memories was when Minerva’s head was stolen by some students who took RAG week to another level. My favourite pubs were the Saracens Head and the Old Green Tree, where regular student gatherings occurred. 

  

Describe your career journey since graduating. What is a typical day like in your current role?   

In my final year I applied for five jobs and was lucky enough to be offered all five – including IBM and ICL (now Fujitsu). I decided to join the Beecham Group (now GSK) as a Marketing Assistant in the drinks division. I worked with some great agencies in London and really learnt a lot.  

After five years it was time to move on, and I joined Mars. I developed from Marketing Manager through to Operations Manager and finally National Sales Manager. Having spent eight years at the company, I felt I needed to test my skills to the full. GSK and Mars were as blue chip as you could get, and the products sold themselves, so I joined a small private business called Roboserve as Sales & Marketing Director. The business had grown to £21m in 21 years; over the next five years it grew to £60m and finally sold.  

At that stage I was under 40 and had all the skills to develop my own business – the BWD Partnership, which was a sales and marketing consultancy. Our clients included household names such as Britvic, the AA, British Telecom and Experian, to name a few.  

Today I act as a Non-Executive Director for a number of companies, providing guidance and support. I was always better suited to work for myself because I was honest and openly disagreed with senior managers! 

  

How did your studies help you to develop? If you took part in a placement, can you talk a bit about that experience?  

The University and the course had a huge impact on my achievements. They formed the platform for my personal development in terms of commerce and the ability to read people.  

At one of my placements, at Ranco Controls in Plymouth, I began to truly understand why change was so difficult for so many people. At another placement, at NatWest, I realised that success is not always attributed to those who speak their mind, are honest and disagree with senior management. 

  

What advice would you give to prospective students thinking about studying Economics at Bath?  

I would not hesitate to recommend the course. It enables you to have your own mind and stay firm in your convictions: this may not always be popular, but if you believe it to be right then the course creates that level of conviction. It forms character, belief in yourself and above all confidence. 

  

What motivates you to donate to Bath, and what would you say to others thinking of doing the same?  

I passionately believe that we should all help those that are less fortunate. It has given me a lot of pleasure to return something to Bath as the University has given so much to me – not just in the four years I attended, but also the 50 that followed. 

Posted in: Humanities & Social Sciences, Parade profiles

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  • Ah, the OGT! Still can't resist calling in when I get back to Bath (Horticulture, 1970)