2012 President’s report, Stephen Williams
We should never lose sight of our underlying objectives, that is: to give talented Australians the opportunity to develop leadership and management skills by sending them to Cranfield to study for their MBA; to continue building a stronger and more vibrant Alumni community; and to build awareness of the Cranfield brand within Australia.
The Scholarship continues to go from strength to strength. Since the inaugural winner in 2007, to-date we have sent 12 talented Australians to undertake the Cranfield MBA on either full or partial scholarships. In 2012, we had 3 outstanding finalists, and the two runners-up were both offered 2012 Scholarships. This year’s 2013 selection process has produced three exceptional finalists, and again the two runners-up will be offered Outstanding Candidate Scholarships. Cranfield School of Management (SoM) has consistently demonstrated a willingness to offer part scholarships to our finalists, which is testimony to the Foundation’s efforts to identify and shortlist only the highest calibre candidates.
Returning students who have benefitted from our efforts are now boosting our alumni community and indeed the sustainability of the Scholarship through our acknowledged ‘pay-it-forward’ philosophy – by financially supporting the Scholarship and by actively dedicating and volunteering their time to further the cause.
We continue to create successful events for Alumni to come together. Through Phil Reid’s efforts, we have reinvigorated activities in NSW and will indeed shortly be undertaking our very first ever event in Canberra. More broadly, we have activated a widespread campaign via LinkedIn to connect with all Australian-based Cranfield Alumni. This latter initiative has revealed a total network of almost 1000 Cranfield Alumni across all the Schools. We intend to further leverage the LinkedIn Network during the coming year. At a global level, Cranfield SoM has reorganised its support for Alumni activities in ways that we trust and hope will be beneficial to us as we seek to further build awareness of Cranfield and the SoM within Australia.
Our brand building efforts have accelerated via the Inaugural President’s Luncheons, which I hosted earlier this year in Melbourne and Sydney. Attended by key influencers in major Australian corporations, key opinion makers in the media and a small group of Alumni, it was a chance to get together and promote Cranfield and our Scholarship’s aims in an informal setting.
When I assumed the role of President in May 2012, I highlighted that an overriding task would be to achieve funding independence for the Scholarship. Our Scholarship remains the most valuable (currently c. A$80,000) available to any Australian wishing to study overseas. A substantial component of that value is the cash contribution of A$20,000 the winning candidate receives towards expenses. The Board believes this to be a distinguishing feature of our offering (our USP!) and we are firmly of the view that it broadens the population of those able to seriously consider taking a year out to study.
In the Foundation’s embryonic years, John McFarlane, our Patron, provided the essential underwriting support to fund any gap between our own fundraising activities and the required A$20,000 per annum so that we could get the Scholarship underway. Now that we are established, with a cadre of winners and a strong future pipeline, John has indicated that it is time for him to support other charitable needs and the Board is of the view that sustainable independence moving forward should now be achievable. However, this will only be the case if we match a more rigorous and disciplined approach to fundraising with a desire from the Cranfield Alumni as a whole to continue with and fund the Scholarship. Without this, the Scholarship in its current form will be in jeopardy. This matter will be a major issue for Alumni to consider over the coming months.
In 2012 we recognised Kim Parish with the award of the Perpetual “McFarlane Dollar” for her sterling contribution in establishing and ensuring
a fair, rigorous, transparent selection process for shortlisted candidates - a procedure that was further embedded by Kim again this year. Alex Chapman was the 2012 winner of the President’s award for her continuing tireless efforts and commitment to furthering our cause.
Alex Livingstone will be stepping down at this year’s AGM and will be replaced in Queensland by Todd Myers (2010 Scholarship winner). Anna Baggoley (2011 Scholarship winner) will also be joining the Board, and will be our UK representative when she takes up her new consultancy role there later in the year. I believe the direct involvement of younger blood and recent winners will keep the dialogue at the top table fresh, relevant and help to ensure the Scholarship and Foundation endures.
The Scholarship exists largely as a result of the huge amount of work and dedication provided by the Board members, all of whom are to be thanked sincerely for their continued support and commitment.
Enormous gratitude is extended to John McFarlane for all his early help in establishing the Scholarship and his subsequent financial assistance in the intervening years; John was instrumental in the creation of a very worthy legacy. It is now up to those of us coming after to ensure that it continues – not just as a legacy for John but also for all of us who have struggled – and succeeded – as a result of our association with Cranfield.
And finally, to all Alumni and friends of Alumni that support the Foundation – the Scholarship gives purpose and acts as a catalyst for networking and engagement; your continued support is greatly appreciated.
We all remain very passionate about our mission – to offer the pre-eminent scholarship opportunity for leadership and development for talented Australians. Thank you for your continued support.
Stephen Williams (MBA 1993)
President, Cranfield Australian Alumni Scholarship Foundation