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Alumni Association Magazine Autumn 2014


RACING AHEAD The graduates behind the wheel of Jaguar Land Rover’s success

We meet the graduate at the heart of the defence team in one of the highest profile death row cases in the world

WE WILL REMEMBER THEM How the First World War changed poetry forever


Ten years of our Alumni Association

Alumni Association Magazine Autumn 2014


RACING AHEAD The graduates behind the wheel of Jaguar Land Rover’s success

We meet the graduate at the heart of the defence team in one of the highest profile death row cases in the world

WE WILL REMEMBER THEM How the First World War changed poetry forever

Alumni Association Magazine Birmingham City University University House 15 Bartholomew Row Birmingham B5 5JU T: +44 (0)121 331 5506 E: W: Course information and guidance T: +44 (0)121 331 5595 Switchboard T: +44 (0)121 331 5000 EDITORIAL Editor: Helen Geary Contributors: David Aust, Helen Eden, Rachel Whitehouse Designer: Kat Warder Production Manager: Catherine Davis

Cover photograph: Jaguar Land Rover

Aspire is produced by Birmingham City University Alumni Association. Unless otherwise indicated, copyright belongs to Birmingham City University. Reproduction in whole or in part of any material contained in Aspire is prohibited without prior written consent. The views expressed in this magazine do not necessarily represent the views of Birmingham City University. While all due care is taken regarding accuracy of information, no responsibility can be accepted for errors. Any guidance given does not constitute a legal opinion.


This term, we held our graduation ceremonies in September for the very first time, so I have had the privilege of watching both the Class of 2013 and the Class of 2014 graduate in one year. Welcome, all of you, to our thriving alumni community. You have joined an incredible group of people who are doing extraordinary things, and hearing your continuing success stories is one of the most satisfying things about being your Vice-Chancellor. In fact, October 2014 marked 10 years of the Alumni Association. Over the last decade, membership of our alumni community has grown steadily, and we are now in touch with more than 65,000 of you around the world. We have re-established many friendships with graduates from our days as Birmingham Polytechnic and University of Central England as well as our more recent leavers. It has been a great pleasure to keep you up to date with all of our news through this magazine, our email newsletter and our alumni events programme, which have gone from strength to strength. During those 10 years, we have seen major changes at the University, not least the adoption of our new name in 2007. Our adoption of the name

Birmingham City University remains a powerful and enduring reflection of our commitment to our home city and region. Our estate has also changed dramatically in the decade since the Alumni Association was set up. Following a £30 million refurbishment, the Seacole Building was opened in 2006, and won a Built in Quality award from Birmingham City Council in 2007. In September 2011, the completion of a £2 million teaching wing meant all health and social care students became based at City South Campus. In 2013, we opened The Parkside Building, providing the very best facilities for our students in arts, design and media. Just in the last year, we have launched Birmingham City University International College in partnership with Navitas, and have sponsored our first school, City Road Primary Academy, under the Birmingham City University Academies Trust. We also held our inaugural Inspired Festival, showcasing the creative work of our students, and we launched our City Talks programme to open our doors to everyone in our city. The next 10 years will undoubtedly bring more change – but what remains constant is our University’s commitment

Contents Autumn 2014 Page


REGULARS News 04 All the latest news from your University: awards; estates developments; alumni news; and more.

Careers “I do hope you will come back and see us this year. Come to an exhibition or a concert, or a careers event, or one of our wonderful City Talks.” to giving our students the best possible learning experience and a truly sound foundation for a successful career. I do hope you will come back and see us this year. Come to an exhibition or a concert, or a careers event, or one of our wonderful City Talks. If you haven’t visited the University for a little while, I am sure you will be impressed, not just by our new buildings and facilities, but by the atmosphere of creativity, energy and ambition you will find everywhere.


Mentoring, graduate placements, careers fairs and support for small businesses.

Where are they now?


Catch up with other alumni – where they are and what they’re doing.

FEATURES Racing ahead


Jaguar Land Rover is a Midlands company with a global success story – and is one of the largest employers of our graduates. We meet some of the team.

We will remember them


As the world remembers the ‘war to end all wars’, we look at how the poets of the First World War changed the poetic tradition forever.

Defending Meriam


Many countries still have the death penalty. The case of Meriam Ibrahim this year in Sudan created an international outcry – we meet the graduate at the heart of her defence team.

Professor Cliff Allan Vice-Chancellor

Alumni of the Year


Meet this year’s Alumni of the Year – and find out how you can put someone forward for next year’s awards!



INSPIRING BIRMINGHAM The University launched its inaugural Inspired Festival this summer to showcase the brightest emerging talent in the arts and creative culture industries. Inspired, which will become an annual fixture in the University’s calendar, brought together work by our student artists, actors, designers, engineers, writers, musicians and more, in a major month-long programme of events open to the public.

University, said: “The UK’s creative industries are now worth over £70 billion a year, and Birmingham City University produces more graduate talent in the creative industries than any other institution outside the south east. From jewellery to fashion design, photography to music, typography to acting, technology to architecture, Inspired illustrates the University’s commitment to developing the cultural leaders of the future.”

Professor Cliff Allan, ViceChancellor at Birmingham City

RESEARCH BEHIND BARS The University has entered into an exciting partnership with G4S and HMP Birmingham which will provide excellent research and study opportunities for Birmingham City University psychology students. The collaboration between the two partners will allow students on the accredited BSc (Hons) Psychology and MSc Forensic Psychology courses to develop better research links and undertake more projects involving offenders, prison officers and the wider criminal justice system at large. Some psychology students have already visited the prison as part of their first semester of activities on their programmes. The link will also allow G4S to undertake its own internal research projects, specialist training and needs analysis 4

with methodological support and ethical guidance from University academics. Professor Craig Jackson, Head of Psychology, said: “The challenges faced by HMP Birmingham and the wider current prison system are important to Birmingham, to the local population, the prison staff, the families of the men inside, and the students who are studying in this city. We are looking at the many ways we can provide useful help to HMP Birmingham while at the same time learning from what they do best too.”

HITTING THE RIGHT NOTE A Birmingham Conservatoire student took the Young Pianist Prize in May at one of the most important international competitions for young musicians in the world. Fan Yu Kevin was named Absolute 1 Prize winner of the Young Pianist Prize in this year’s Young Musician International Competition, otherwise known as ‘Città di Barletta’. The 24-year-old pianist, originally from Taiwan, was also the youngest participant in the competition. He is now looking forward to returning to Italy next year to deliver a solo recital as part of his prize.


RESEARCH ENABLES INSTANT CANCER DIAGNOSIS A research project led by the University’s School of Digital Media Technology (DMT) has shown how data sonification (converting data to audio signals rather than visuals) using a laser device can improve techniques in stem cell analysis, opening up new possibilities in the future for GPs to make instant cancer diagnoses. Dr Ryan Stables of DMT collaborated with the University of Central Lancashire and GEANT (a pan-European research and education network) on a

Acclaimed children’s author Anne Fine made a special visit to Birmingham primary school City Road Primary Academy in July, to celebrate the school’s first anniversary as an academy sponsored by Birmingham City University. The school is a member of the Birmingham City University Academies Trust, which aims to transform the prospects of children by providing transformational learning experiences through excellence in teacher education, research and innovation. Professor Fiona Church explained: “The University has been delighted to work with City Road for the past year as its academy sponsor. We very much look forward to developing our working relationship further to support and strengthen the school and to deliver the best possible experience for the pupils.”

preliminary study which converted stem cell data into sounds rather than visual data such as graphs, similar to the function of a metal detector. Dr Stables explained: “It allows you to identify the characteristics of cancer in real-time, which we hope could have life-changing implications for patients through the development of better diagnostic tools.” This non-invasive system is still in the early stages of development; the preliminary study was launched at the 20th International Conference on Audio Display. The team is now developing the research further by working on new types of tissue data to treat a wider range of physical diseases, and is also recruiting a PhD student for the project.

MILESTONE FOR NEW CURZON BUILDING The University celebrated another landmark in its £260 million estates plan in September, when the official ‘topping out’ ceremony took place for The Curzon Building. This new building, adjacent to The Parkside Building in the City Centre Campus, will house business, law, social science and English courses from autumn 2015, as well as new library, IT and student support facilities. The building’s name was proposed by a member of staff and reflects the location of the building in a historical area of the city, situated next to the old Curzon Street Station and Curzon Street. The Curzon Building features two wings of flexible teaching accommodation, linked by a central atrium. It will sit at the eastern end of Eastside City Park, and incorporates into its design the Grade II listed Eagle and Ball public house. Vice-Chancellor Professor Cliff Allan said: “The Curzon Building will offer our students a unique social learning space,

including a dedicated student hub, which will incorporate all student support services. Positioning the University at the heart of the city will attract students to Birmingham and enable our students to interact better with the city.” While construction continues on The Curzon Building, planning is also well under way for the third phase of our campus development with a further £58 million of improvements to consolidate most of our teaching onto two state-of-the-art campuses from 2017.

Anne Fine, who also holds an Honorary Doctorate from the University, joined staff and pupils at the school in Smethwick for a celebration picnic. Lynn Fulford, Associate Dean, was pleased that the event acknowledged the achievements both of the pupils and of their teachers: “This was a fitting way of recognising the children’s enjoyment of reading and writing, providing them with a wonderful opportunity to learn from one of our best-known children’s authors.” 5


RECREATING ANGLO-SAXON GOLD A team from the University’s Jewellery Industry Innovation Centre (JIIC) has been combining their expertise in the application of advanced technologies with their considerable knowledge of craft techniques to recreate some of the Staffordshire Hoard’s most precious items for future generations to study and enjoy. The Staffordshire Hoard is one of the world’s largest collections of Anglo-Saxon gold and was originally found in a field near the village of Hammerwich in Staffordshire. The complete hoard consists of over 3,500 items at an estimated value of £3.2 million and is jointly owned by The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery and the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. The JIIC team is using their laser scanning equipment to digitally capture data at an incredible level of accuracy. Each scan is accurate to a scale 5 microns, or 0.005 millimetres. The scans are then used to create replicas intended to be indiscernible from the originals when viewed through a display case. The replicas will be used in the new gallery at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, when the original pieces are either on display elsewhere, being conserved or studied.

STUDENTS SET FOR SPORTING LIFE Students at Birmingham City University are being given more opportunity to get active thanks to £250,000 of National Lottery funding from Sport England’s University Sport Activation Fund. The University is one of 54 universities nationwide to benefit from nearly £10 million of funding to encourage new and current university students to enjoy sport. Mike Draper, Sport England Director of Community Sport, explained: “We know universities play a vital role in maintaining and growing a student’s love of sport. They can encourage them to continue playing once they’ve left school


or help those less sporty discover a new sport. By investing in Birmingham City University we’re helping students develop a lifelong sporting habit while they study.” A number of exciting initiatives will launch from this term aiming to involve 10,000 students at the University over three years. The Students’ Union believes this funding will ultimately change the culture of students engaging in physical activity, after consulting over 1,000 students. Leanne Westcott from BCUSU said: “Engaging a very diverse body of students at multiple campuses across the city has proven

challenging so this funding will be crucial to building new opportunities and removing barriers for students to access sport. Ultimately we hope to change our students’ habits to where physical activity at the University is the norm.”

LINK WITH DUBAI The University has signed an agreement to collaborate with Al Ghurair University (AGU), one of the largest private higher education providers in the United Arab Emirates. Birmingham City University will deliver courses at Al Ghurair’s premises in Dubai Academic City, while AGU students will also be able to complete their undergraduate education at Birmingham City University in areas including computer science, telecommunications and networks and business information technologies. “This is a great achievement for both universities and we look forward to more collaborations and stronger ties with Birmingham City University for the benefits of our communities in the UAE and the UK,” said Professor Kahtan Ismail Aziz, Associate Professor at AGU’s College of Engineering and Computing.

VIETNAMESE HONOUR FOR HEALTH PROFESSOR Joy Notter, Professor of Community Health, has been honoured with the ‘Campaign Medal for Services to Health’ from the Vietnamese Ministry of Health for her contribution to the health of the people of Vietnam. The award is the highest honour Vietnam can bestow on a non-Vietnamese citizen.

In 2005, Professor Notter embarked on a joint project alongside colleagues from Vietnam, the Netherlands and England to improve the quality of nurse training at college and university level in Vietnam. She has now been asked by the Vietnamese Ministry of Health to develop a new project to improve care quality.

HIGH STREET GEM First-year Jewellery Design student Ruth Hallows has been chosen by Argos to produce an exclusive jewellery collection, to be sold in store and online from January 2015. Ruth, 32, from Darlington in County Durham, is thrilled: “To be recognised by such a prominent retailer means a lot to me and I am really looking forward to

seeing my designs in stores around the country.” Ruth is now working alongside Argos’s jewellery buying team and manufacturer Optima. Alice Rigby, Jewellery Buying Manager for Argos, said: “Ruth’s beautiful ‘Pearl Swirl’ jewellery collection really stood out to us. We think our customers are going to love this collection as much as we do.”

OFFICIAL LAUNCH FOR BCUIC Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) marked its first anniversary with an official launch in September. The College, run in partnership with leading global education provider Navitas, provides tailored study pathways for international students. The BCUIC pathways, offered at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, are purpose-built to help students then progress successfully on to degree programmes at the University.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Cliff Allan said: “This term we welcomed 100 students from the College to the University, representing a huge step forward in the realisation of our International Strategy.” Rod Jones, Navitas Group CEO, added: “We have had a great first year working with Birmingham City University and look forward to our relationship flourishing over the coming years.”

RACING AHEAD Midlands-based carmaker Jaguar Land Rover is one of the UK’s biggest industrial success stories of recent years – and one of the largest employers of Birmingham City University graduates. David Aust looks at some of the careers they have pursued and what the future holds for this local success story.


he growth of Jaguar Land Rover since it was bought by Indian conglomerate Tata in 2008 has been rapid with profits now in excess of £1.5 billion. New models have been launched, with new manufacturing plants opened or planned in the UK, India, China and Brazil. The firm employs around 30,000 people globally, with 11,000 new jobs being created over the last three years, and supports around 190,000 more through the supply chain. The recent

Big car here


boom in sales is not only great news for engineering graduates – our alumni are employed in a wide range of other roles, from finance to marketing. Purchasing Director Brian Davy has seen many changes since joining the UK car industry in 1983. When Rover Group was broken up and sold off in 2000, Brian moved with Land Rover to become part of Ford Motor Company, staying with the company through the merger with Jaguar and subsequent sale to Tata.

He studied Town Planning at Birmingham City University, but after realising a career in that field was not for him, he looked at related alternatives in the private sector. After a spell at Beecham Foods, now part of GlaxoSmithKline, he returned to the Midlands to start his career in the motor industry. “I now look after ‘non-production purchasing’, which involves buying all the goods and services that the company

requires which are not fitted to the cars, from robots and machinery to marketing and IT. The role has huge variety – you could be talking to managers in the construction industry one minute and advertising agencies in London’s West End the next. Being part of a successful company, we have a lot of purchasing power in the marketplace and I need to ensure we use that wisely. “It’s a terrific company to work for – 30 years ago I was hired by the company that produced the Maestro and Montego and now I work for one that produces the F-Type and the Range Rover, so a radically different company and industry these days. Tata is an ideal parent in that they make sure the business plan and investment strategy are robust, but we have the freedom to make our own day-to-day decisions. We have fantastic products born of high quality engineering and produced by a skilled and committed workforce. Also, our solid, sustained business performance is proving very attractive to the best talent out there. If you’re looking to make a successful career, then you could do a lot worse than coming here. “The future for us involves a more international dimension because certain markets put up import tariffs. To sell successfully, therefore, we have to consider building factories in those countries, for example, China. Our aim as Purchasing Directors is to develop Jaguar Land Rover’s purchasing function along world-class lines, working with the best suppliers and delivering the best possible performance. By doing so, we will make our own contribution to building the company’s reputation and success. “JLR is a great company to work for and it’s consistently producing solid results these days. You get lots of development, lots of responsibility, and feel really connected to the product. If you’re somebody that has a commercial outlook, that has eyes for a commercial deal and likes the idea of representing a company in very big, complex negotiations, then purchasing could be the career for you. It’s provided me with lots of challenge and lots of satisfaction

Purchasing Director Brian Davy with the Jaguar C-X75

over the years, and if you can find that in any career, it’s no bad thing.”

Jaguar Land Rover is a huge benefit to me as a parent.

Derek Wellington is a more recent arrival at the firm, having worked within Line Engineering (Complex Quality) for 18 months. After studying Mechanical Engineering at Birmingham City University, he worked in product development at Honda for almost 15 years before switching roles. He describes his current position as a “problem-solving role”, ensuring the plant’s quality levels are maintained.

“The company was taken over by Tata in 2008, and they invested a lot of money coming up with superb new designs that people want to own, and at that time a lot of manufacturers didn’t have the cash to do that. Tata put the money in and our people came up with some absolutely fantastic designs – our quality and our reputation is improving all the time. We have 50 new models coming in over the next five years, which is phenomenal, and the 172 countries we export to all want them – volumes are just going through the roof all the time.

Derek said: “If a problem occurs which can’t be solved on the spot, we come in to define what the problem is, how significant it is and what we can do to improve things. We also look at what lessons we can learn and what controls we can put in so that it doesn’t happen again, either as a result of design or process. “I’d previously worked in product development and competitor research, and this was the chance to do something new and build knowledge in a different field. It’s very challenging, with a lot of pressure, but there’s also a lot of support from the senior staff around me. On the professional side, there are lots of opportunities to better yourself, gain qualifications and develop yourself as a person while, on a personal level, the childcare and flexible working offered by

“Graduates here get great opportunities – I’ve had a graduate working with me for about a year now and with the amount of training, support and guidance they get, what they’ve learned in that time would probably take about five years somewhere

“Graduates here get great opportunities - the world is their oyster.”


Racing Ahead Jaguar Land Rover welcomes new 2013 graduate intake taking the total number of graduates recruited in the last three years to almost 1,000

“We have a very positive workforce, people who want to be part of the growing success story which is Jaguar Land Rover.”

image of group

Jaguar XFR-S made its European debut on the Geneva show stand

else. The company is very focused on what graduates want to do and the world is their oyster.” Having worked at Land Rover and then the merged Jaguar Land Rover in various roles, Rob Cooney is currently Jaguar Marketing Manager for Jaguar Land Rover’s Engineered to Order division – responsible for extending the brand with a series of special editions and personalisation options. Rob previously held a number of other roles with the company including Jaguar Vehicle Line Business Manager, Defender Business and Product Planning Manager, Product Planning Analyst (Future Product) and Marketing Co-ordinator (Special Vehicles) for Land Rover. He studied MA Marketing Management at Birmingham City University, graduating in 2010. “I joined Land Rover with a technical background – I had completed an HND in Engineering and Business but I ended up working predominantly in business


and planning-oriented roles. I soon realised this was where my interests lay: developing products to surprise and delight customers. One of my significant early achievements was continuing the life of the Defender – the original Land Rover – by getting it back to profitability. By this time I had grown interested in the marketing subject and connecting with global customers, which led me to study a postgraduate diploma with the Chartered Institute of Marketing. “From there I realised I wanted to get into a more marketing-specific role and learn even more about the subject. I was particularly interested in the idea of brand extensions which were proliferating across the premium automotive segment. When you’re so busy on a day-to-day basis you don’t get time to consider the academic theory behind a subject, so the marketing Master’s enabled me to step back and look at things more objectively. “My main research project drew on my experience at Land Rover, investigating

the likelihood of category acceptance for our LRX concept vehicle, which subsequently became the Range Rover Evoque – a product which continues to experience huge success today. The knowledge I gained from the course gave me a deep understanding into a specialist but highly relevant subject; this now gives me the confidence to trust my instincts and deliver products with a high probability of success. “In recent years, Jaguar Land Rover has become even more ambitious. We have a very positive workforce, people who want to be part of the growing success story which is Jaguar Land Rover. I started off working for Land Rover but I now feel just as passionate about the Jaguar brand – I feel as though we are starting to create something very special with Jaguar, products which will rival the big German auto manufacturers and I believe the brand deserves the success. We make some great cars and, with the right marketing to show the world how good they are, we will become even more successful.”

We Will Remember Them August 2014 marked 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War. Helen Eden looks at the profound impact the conflict had on English poetry and how it still resonates today.


ar has always inspired poetry. As far back as Homer’s Iliad, poets have immortalised warriors as heroes, the shapers of nations and defenders of just and worthy causes. Right through to the Victorian era, poems like Lord Tennyson’s The Charge of the Light Brigade depicted going to war as a noble act. However, with the horrors of the First World War came a new kind of writing that expressed suffering, tragedy and despair in poems such as Wilfred Owen’s Dulce et Decorum Est. Dr Gregory Leadbetter, Director of our Institute of Creative and Critical Writing, explains: “World War One changed the poetic tradition. Before then, we didn’t really have war poetry in the modern sense. “It’s the moment where the whole of that tradition of honourable death in the name of one’s country is transformed, if not wholly rejected. “Essentially, all of these poets were showing people things that maybe they didn’t want to see, but once they did see, they could empathise with.” In an era when we are surrounded by vivid photography and television footage

of conflict all around the world, it is perhaps difficult for us to understand the profound impact of this new kind of poetry in 1914. War had been something which happened in a distant place in pursuit of lofty ideals, but suddenly civilians were given a glimpse of the mud and the blood through a soldier’s own eyes. “Imaginative writing prevents our ideas from being purely abstract,” says Dr Leadbetter. “The act of imaginative empathy, of which the World War One poets were such masters, is what humanises the complexity of our experience. It’s a way of coming to terms with something that’s really very difficult to articulate.” By writing about their experiences, the First World War poets played an important role in keeping history alive. Their vivid writing continues to capture the artistic imagination today, including here at the University. Drawing on the works of the World War One poets, BA (Hons) Theatre, Performance and Event Design students created a poignant ‘paper soldiers’ installation in The Parkside Building earlier this year. Using the Battle of the Somme as the setting, the exhibition was

made up of paper and cardboard, and sets included life-size trenches, poor outdoor sleeping quarters and injured soldiers. The University is also involved in Voices of War and Peace: the Great War and its Legacy, a new First World War Engagement Centre based in the Library of Birmingham. Led by the University of Birmingham, it is a joint initiative with Birmingham City University, Newman University, the University of Wolverhampton and the University of Worcester, as well as the University of Glasgow, Manchester Metropolitan University and Cardiff University. Voices of War and Peace launched in March 2014 and it is funded for three years by the Arts & Humanities Research Council in partnership with the Heritage Lottery Fund. It will support a variety of community engagement activities, offering research support and guidance for community groups as well as providing a focus for relevant academic research. For more information about the Voices of War and Peace project, visit


DEFENDING MERIAM The death penalty may not have been used in the UK for 50 years, but it is still in use in many parts of the world, with Amnesty International reporting at least 778 executions in 2013. This year, the case of Meriam Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman who was sentenced to death because of her Christian faith in May 2014, sparked a global outcry. David Aust spoke to Birmingham City University graduate Elshareef Ali Mohammed, who played a key role in Meriam’s defence. Elshareef Ali Mohammed is a lawyer and human rights practitioner, who represents, advises and defends in court victims of human rights violations including women, children and political prisoners. In 2008, he started working as a Human Rights Officer for the United Nations Mission in Sudan, monitoring and reporting on human rights developments, and working closely with government authorities and other agencies promoting human rights and rule of law. After training as a lawyer in his native Sudan, he came to Birmingham City University to study LLM International Human Rights, graduating in 2013. Elshareef spent a year working at the People’s Legal Aid Center in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, where he represented, advised and defended in 12

court various victims of human rights violation including women, children and political prisoners. Violations included torture, illegal arrest and detention, and violation of women’s and children’s rights. He then moved to head up the organisation’s field office in the town of Zalingei, in the troubled state of Darfur. Having worked as a lawyer for 18 months, he hit the headlines in 2014 when he was part of the five-man defence team representing Meriam Ibrahim. Meriam was charged with renouncing Islam, a crime under Sudanese law, and sentenced to death by hanging. Meriam, who maintains she was never Muslim, became the centre of an international outcry, further fuelled when she was made to give birth to her second child in prison. The campaign for Meriam’s release was backed by Amnesty International and world leaders, including David Cameron. Following extensive negotiations, she was allowed to leave the country for Italy – from where she went on to join her husband in the USA – in July. Elshareef said his interest in human rights stemmed from his upbringing in Sudan, where he saw first-hand the impact that a lack of respect for international standards could have: “I grew up in Sudan during a dictatorship and was always thinking about justice – I saw many people who were arrested, tortured or killed and wanted to be able to do something about that. I decided to become a lawyer, and continued

to develop my knowledge during my studies.” Having received a prestigious Chevening Scholarship from the British Government, allowing him to study a postgraduate course in the UK, he was attracted to Birmingham City University by its expertise in human rights issues. While here, he also undertook an internship with Redress, a UK non-governmental organisation (NGO) that helps victims of torture. “Birmingham City University is one of the best universities for human rights, and that was the area I wanted to focus on and develop my skills. It has a great perspective on human rights and studying this course helped me a lot to understand these issues. Since I came back to Sudan,

“I saw many people tortured or killed and wanted to do something about that.” Elshareef Ali Mohammed


Meriam Ibrahim arrives in Rome in July 2014 after her release from death row

Defending Meriam “This case had all the ingredients that attract media attention” Dr Jon Yorke

I wanted to support people here by becoming a human rights lawyer, and I have represented, advised and defended in the Sudanese courts various victims including women, children, political prisoners and death row inmates. “I heard about Meriam’s case but at that point, it was not very well known and she had a lawyer, but not one who was experienced in human rights issues, so I joined the team. There were two sides to my involvement – the legal side, representing her before the court, but just as importantly, campaigning and raising awareness. We started to bring her case to the public by contacting NGOs and the media. “I was very surprised by the response because the case had been ongoing for quite a while before it started to attract attention, but when we started to get more interest in the USA, the UK and Europe, that helped to put pressure on the Sudanese government. It also helped Meriam to stay strong because she knew people around the world were supporting her.” As well as providing legal aid initiatives to bring Sudanese law in line with international standards, he has brought cases through the country’s legal system including the Constitutional Court. Elshareef is also co-founder of the Sudanese Human Rights initiative,


a small NGO established in 2013 to promote and protect human rights in the country, through a network of human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists and human rights activists. “The community needs a lot of help and support and my own aim is to see Sudan’s legal system brought in line with international human rights standards. It is very hard for us, because many lawyers are blacklisted by the government, but I will not give up and will continue to raise these issues, and bring about change in the proper way.” Dr Jon Yorke is a Reader in Law at the University’s School of Law and Director of our Centre for American Legal Studies. As an expert in capital punishment, he is a member of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Death Penalty Expert Group and the International Academic Network for the Abolition of the Death Penalty. He is also an adviser on the death penalty to the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, the European Union and the Council of Europe, and an adviser and lecturer in international law and the death penalty for the Death Penalty Internship Programme run by the charity Amicus. He said: “This case had all the ingredients that attract public and media attention – when we saw the pictures of the family together, it was a real situation where people’s hearts would go out to them. Then, there were the horrendous circumstances of the case – the falsification of charges and Meriam going through the process of being heavily pregnant in prison, then shackled in prison during childbirth with her young child watching on. That was enough to get the international community involved and if you look at the millions of comments on Twitter and the petitions from and Amnesty International, both with over one million signatures, you can see the impact it had. “Elshareef studied here, and I know what he learned helped to prepare him for this case – he took my module on The Right to Life and his essay was on The Death Penalty in Sudan, where he took that

knowledge and applied it to the situation in his home country.” Regarding the current status of the death penalty, Dr Yorke was optimistic that its use was in long-term decline, and that more countries would move away from it in future. Dr Yorke said: “In December, the UN will be taking its next vote on a moratorium on the death penalty and, since the last vote in 2007, there has been a gradual increase in the number of countries wanting a moratorium – currently 110. The British government and the EU are developing a cross-regional alliance to train and develop other countries to have an effective criminal justice system, which the death penalty cannot be part of. “The movement to abolish it has similar characteristics as those we had to abolish slavery or to create a legal position against torture, and I think gradually we will get to a stage where the global position is generally against the death penalty and the vast majority of countries will abolish it – we may still have a rogue country with a dictator that wants to kill its own citizens, but that will very much be the exception. It’s only since the mid-1980s that there has been a significant movement against the death penalty, and back then the majority of countries still had it in some form; within 30 years, around two-thirds of countries have now abolished it and I think we’ll see something like 95 per cent against it within my lifetime.” Elshareef added: “The death penalty is one of the most significant human rights challenges around the globe today – in Europe, people are very fortunate that it has been abolished but we do have it in many other places such as the USA, Africa and the Middle East. I will continue to highlight this issue and work with groups who want to see it end.”

Dr Yorke and Elshareef took part in a discussion of Meriam’s case at one of the University’s City Talks events in October. For highlights of the talk, and details of future events, visit

Alumni Year of the

Birmingham City University Alumni of the Year recognises and celebrates the outstanding achievements of our graduates. Each year, the University names Alumni of the Year in three categories – Enterprise and Innovation, Community Engagement and Leadership, and Excellence in Sport or the Arts. We are delighted to announce this year’s Alumni of the Year. The recipients were presented with their certificates and sterling silver Alumni of the Year pins during the University’s graduation ceremonies, at the new earlier date of September 2014.

Enterprise and Innovation

Andy Weekes PGCE Secondary (Music) 2006 Andy has turned his interest in developing apps for mobile phones and tablet computers into a successful fulltime career. He came to Birmingham City University to train as a music teacher, and went on to spend six years in the role, while at the same time developing his enthusiasm around the emerging technology of apps. The success of his business, iCandi Apps, has largely been the result of his incredible invention ‘The Night Sky’, which enables users to identify stars, planets and even satellites just by pointing their device at the sky. It proved to be an immediate hit, selling over four million copies to date, and becoming the top-selling paid reference app of 2012 worldwide.

Andy continues to take an interest in his teaching roots and educational background, recently giving a talk to students at Bournville College in Birmingham about his experiences founding his business and tips on how to succeed within the technological field. “Due to my teaching career, I was already an Apple Mac enthusiast as they were used heavily in Music Technology. In 2008 one of my biggest idols, Steve Jobs, announced the iPhone App Store, something I had been anticipating for over a year before launch. I was instantly inspired from his App Store and development kit presentation, and immediately downloaded the free development software from the Apple website. I then played with it, learned a lot in my spare time, and it was a

hobby that I thoroughly enjoyed. If the University had not been so well equipped with the latest technology at the time of me taking the course, I may not have been inspired to get my own Mac. “Teaching gave me a lot of confidence as a person – I draw on this confidence every day, whether in presentations or simple telephone calls to large companies.”


Alumni of the Year

Excellence in Sport or the Arts

Charlotte Bray BMus (Hons) 2006 Having started her studies at Birmingham Conservatoire as a cellist, Charlotte decided she would prefer to be writing her own music and switched to composition. Since graduating with First Class Honours in 2006, she has enjoyed enormous success and in 2012 was named by the Evening Standard as one of London’s 1,000 most influential people; the newspaper described her as ‘one of the outstanding composing talents of her generation’. Charlotte has had many pieces commissioned and performed including Invisible Cities, premiered at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland in July 2012; At the Speed of Stillness, a BBC Proms

commission premiered at the Royal Albert Hall 2012; and Caught in Treetops, premiered by renowned violinist Alexandra Wood and the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (BCMG). For 2009/10, Charlotte held a residency with BCMG, followed by her being elected Composer-in-Residence for 2011 by the Oxford Lieder Festival. In 2012, she was the judge who announced the results on television for BBC Young Musician of the Year. She said: “I had an absolutely brilliant time at Birmingham Conservatoire, especially after I switched to composition. We all had the chance to

develop as composers without feeling we were being forced to fit in with a particular style. “It was quite a small year group and that allowed us to have a lot of individual tuition, which was always absolutely fantastic, with people like Head of Composition Joe Cutler. We also had a lot of people who were very successful composers coming in to collaborate with us.”

Community Engagement and Leadership

Jimmy Ogunshakin LLB Law (Hons) 1992, PgDip Legal Practice Course 2002 Jimmy is a graduate of Birmingham City University’s Legal Practice Course. Having been a student barrister of The Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn, he then worked for Local Government Legal Services, Wragge & Co LLP, Newsome Vaughan LLP and Anthony Collins LLP. He is a solicitor advocate, appearing for clients in the High Court, and recently represented a client in the Court of Appeal (Civil Division). In July 2008, he founded Mayflower Solicitors, a specialist employment and commercial law practice. He works with a broad and diverse client base including a number of not-for-profit organisations and small businesses. The firm undertakes pro bono (free)


legal work for those who cannot afford to pay and who cannot obtain legal aid, especially in the fields of employment law, discrimination, housing and debt. Jimmy is actively engaged in supporting the School of Law at Birmingham City University, encouraging and enthusing the next generation of students by providing input to the Faculty Advisory Board and the LPC Course Practitioner Liaison Committee, and by offering placements to current Legal Practice Course students. Jimmy said: “The legal profession is changing very quickly at the moment and because we’re small and adaptable, we’re perhaps better-placed to react to this.

“I am truly humbled to have been nominated as one of Birmingham City University’s Alumni of the Year. I have been blessed with the education that I have received to date and it is only right that I share this and provide opportunities for others to access.”

Submit your nominations for 2015:

Enterprise and Innovation

Dan Griffiths and Leon Ostle

Leon Ostle

BA (Hons) Visual Communication 2000 Dan Griffiths and Leon Ostle have been two of the top advertising designers in London over the last 10 years. They met while studying together on the BA (Hons) Visual Communication course and were already active in the industry by the time they qualified in 2000.

In July 2013, they made the decision to strike out on their own, setting up Crew Studio Ltd, a digital design and creative studio. As founders and directors they have already worked on some large scale projects for V Festival, Rogue Films, Google and Mother.

They began their careers as part of the founding team at Glue, successfully managing and developing the design department for eight years and building it from a team of five to over 30. The duo have run or been creative leads on accounts for companies including Sky, RBS, Toyota, Stella Artois, Adidas, Google, Guinness, Coke Zero, Mini, 3mobile, Unilever and Virgin.

Leon said: “We joined Glue as a creative marketing team – it was a very small unit so we had to be hands-on, but that’s how we like to work anyway and it gave us the flexibility to really shine, which has put us in good stead for what we’ve done since.” Dan added: “The course really opened our eyes to looking at things

Dan Griffiths

differently and the concept side of communication. I know from speaking to other people that a lot of other courses didn’t offer anywhere near the studio time ours did – whereas others might just do a few hours a week, we were much more hands-on, in from 9-5 every day.”

Enterprise and Innovation

Victoria Eggs BA (Hons) Fine Art 2005 Having graduated in Fine Art, Victoria initially used her passion for photography to create her own range of greetings cards. She went on to work for branding and communication company BrandCulture and designed t-shirt graphics for Ben Sherman in Australia before establishing the Victoria Eggs brand in 2011. The company ethos is to support British industry and celebrate the country’s rich heritage, and this passion for all things British comes through in Victoria’s designs – many of which feature iconic London landmarks and cockneyrhyming slang. The Victoria Eggs range of homeware and gifts is now stocked by over 200

retailers globally – including Selfridges, West Elm, Tate Modern, and The National Gallery. Annual turnover has grown to over £100,000, and Victoria has ambitious plans to expand her overseas markets over the next 12 months. She said: “The notion of Britain and Britishness is so wide, and the inspiration is limitless – I have so many ideas that I have to hold myself back a bit. “This year has been great – developing the company and getting more shelf space in places like Selfridges, London Transport Museum and St Paul’s Cathedral, and repeat orders are coming in. Next year, I plan to have a really big push overseas – I’ve been researching markets abroad, seeing what’s out

there, and there’s a trade fair in Paris in January which has a huge waiting list but fingers crossed!”



GET INVOLVED IN MENTORING If you’re looking to develop your leadership skills, while enhancing your CV, get involved in mentoring. The careers and job prospects team operate the following mentoring schemes:

Inspiring Futures


The Inspiring Futures mentoring scheme, working towards accreditation by the Mentoring and Befriending Foundation, has been designed to give penultimate and final-year students the chance to get face-toface mentoring from a young professional based in Birmingham.

ASK@BCU is our unique e-mentoring scheme for students and graduates. The scheme offers alumni the opportunity to mentor current students or to be mentored by another graduate of the University.

Here are a few comments from mentors on the 2013/14 scheme: ‘Great scheme to help students.’ ‘Enjoyed imparting of knowledge, having a positive impact on mentee and also learning from the mentee what skills employers value in today’s labour market.’ ‘I enjoyed making a difference to someone’s life.’

- Mentor a penultimate or final year student and share your experiences of life after university. - Mentor a fellow graduate of the University who is looking for career progression or a career change. - Be mentored by a senior, experienced member of our alumni to support your own self-development or career progression. You can register as a mentor, mentee or both!

To get involved with Inspiring Futures or ASK@BCU, email Gagan Sekhon, Employability Mentoring Officer, at

SUPPORT FOR START-UPS LILA is an EU-funded project aimed at young Birmingham-based entrepreneurial firms working in the digital and/or green sectors who are looking to internationalise their business. LILA provides these start-ups with the opportunity to test and adapt their product or service directly with potential users in the UK, France, Germany and Luxembourg. Birmingham City University is a key player within LILA and we are here to help you. For further information email





You may recall completing a questionnaire as part of the Higher Education Statistics Agency’s (HESA) Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (known as DLHE) survey six months after you finished your studies in 2010/2011. The information that you provided will have been really useful to your institution and the government.

We know that experience is vital to stand out in today’s competitive jobs market and the Graduate Placement Scheme offers a range of placements that could give you the edge.

There is now another opportunity for some of you to let us know what you have been doing since you gained your qualification. IFF Research, on behalf of HESA, is conducting a survey (the ‘DLHE Longitudinal Survey’) and they may get in touch with you soon. The questionnaire will ask you to detail your activities since you left university in 2010/2011.

- Placements run for anything from nine weeks to a year.

If you are contacted by IFF Research (by email, post or telephone), please take time to complete the survey – your participation is invaluable. You will be able to see the results of this survey on the web next summer. You can read more about previous DLHE Longitudinal Surveys, including the findings, at

CAREERS FAIRS Alumni are very welcome at Birmingham City University careers fairs. Come along to see the opportunities on offer. Employers are actively recruiting Birmingham City University students and graduates so don’t miss out! Education and Teaching Fair 6 February 2015 City North Campus, Baker Hall, and Baker Conference Suite

- All placements are paid. - Roles are based in the West Midlands. - Placements may lead to permanent roles . One of the many beneficiaries of the scheme said: “The Graduate Placements Team have been very helpful in sourcing placements in my chosen field. I am very grateful to have been a part of this opportunity as it has helped me to gain relevant experience and opened doors to further possibilities. The Graduate Placement Scheme is a valuable concept to be a part of and the benefits are endless.” Register at to access the latest employment opportunities. For more information contact your dedicated Graduate Placement Team at

Computing, Engineering and Construction Fair 11 March 2015 City Centre Campus, Ground Floor, Millennium Point



Share your post-university experiences with your classmates, friends and fellow alumni


Music (Piano), 1968 We have just launched our first book “Worship Works” and I am now working on my 23rd musical. All the other 22 musicals are still in print and being used widely including some Christmas musicals. See my website www.cmm. for details.


BSc (Hons) Estate Management, 1991 23 years after my graduation, I’m so happy to make a move joining the BCU’s alumni website with a wish that I can meet people online whom I knew during my three years’ studies in the UK. I worked in HK for two years after study and went to Shanghai for my career development. I am so lucky that I can make use of what I’ve learnt in BCU (was Birmingham Polytechnic) and became a real estate professional in the very beginning stage when China opened up the property market. I was so fortunate that I met Peter Dent, my course tutor, in Shanghai a few years ago when I chaired the RICS’s assessment panel and Peter brought his students to attend the APC. If any of my course-mates or lecturers here recognize me as one of the three Chinese boys from HK joining the class in 1988, please do drop me a line. I’ll never forget this important part of my life in Birmingham which was full of amazing experiences, ups and downs,


sweet and sour, which enlightened me not just about knowledge but also about belief and persistence.


BA (Hons) Graphic Design, 1993 These days I work for a Californian web “startup” called SOASTA, I code their Dashboards, which are rich interactive UIs, including 3D elements. I actually work from home in the UK, and travel to Mountain View a few times a year for design meetings. Over the years I have worked on a number one video game, and Oscar winning Movie Visual Effects and was personally nominated for an EMMY award in 2002. Digital design was always my passion, and the journey to where I am now has (mostly) been great fun.


then in Italy and in Holland as Financial Controller first and Auditor then for about five years. Since 2002 I have lived in Germany where I worked as budget and investment expert and now in operational risk management. Apart from ACCA in 1996 I obtained an MBA in Business Administration in 2001 and I am now doing postgraduate studies in Coaching Psychology. Keeping learning keeps you young!


MSc Town and Country Planning, 1995 After graduating I moved down to Cornwall to work for the County Council. Many years, and job moves, later I am a Senior Lecturer in planning at the University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol teaching the planners of the future.

BSc Computing Information Systems, 1993


After graduating I spent 10 years working for the French cosmetics company Yves Rocher near Harrow before transferring to their French offices as an expat. 11 years and two companies later I’m now living in Nice on weekends and working in Paris as the IT Director of Carglass (sister company of Autoglass).

I came from a working class background leaving school with seven ‘O’ levels and considered further education to be beyond my reach. I worked as a customs officer in what was pretty much a dead end job. I found the degree course challenging but also exciting.


BA (Hons) Accountancy, 1993 What have I done in the last 20 years? Well, after graduation I worked for three years as a Lecturer in Accountancy while studying for ACCA. Then I worked first in London,

LLB (Hons), 1994

Academically, I likened myself to a carthorse in that I plodded on and on. I obtained a 2:1. I was then 47 years old, I thought of the degree course as my own marathon. I left Customs and Excise and obtained a senior management position with a major multinational company. The job was very well paid and involved constant travel to the EU and

Central and Eastern Europe. Taking on a new role was challenging but a lot less daunting than it would been had I not had my degree. (No matter what people tell you, constant flying is not a great deal of fun).


Now retired, I travel at a much more relaxed pace and have been able to buy a cottage in a little coastal village in Cornwall. You asked if I have published a book, well yes I have. Daniel’s Prize is a murder mystery, police corruption novel based, in part, on my experiences as a customs investigation officer.



DipHE Social Work, 1996 I am glad to say I moved on from initial assessment/ enablement planning to Senior Practitioner’s post. Currently I have been doing Specialist Practitioner, Safeguarding Adults job. Since I have become a qualified Social Worker I managed to undertake Post Qualifying Social Work (PQSW) course. Recently I have done Enabling Others (EO-1) Course-1 and currently doing EO-2, about to submit the Portfolio for the EO-2 course. I have been married to a qualified social worker and we have a very special son who is 19 and is starting second year Honours course in English at the University of Birmingham.


BA (Hons) Interior Design, 1995 Hi guys, I would like to re-connect with all my classmates and lecturers wherever you are. I am in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, running my firm, Design-Icon. I’m now married with two lovely kids, Craig and Innocent. Please keep connected for our mutual benefit!

MA Information and Library Studies, 1997 I am now the Learning Resource Centre Manager at a sixth form college in Hampshire.

BEng Computer Aided Design and Manufacture, 1997 Hello BCU! Almost immediately after graduating I was working for a large engineering firm in the UK! I had some fantastic mentors some of which went to BCU and quickly became a productive team member for one of the firm’s largest clients. I was married less than a year later and within the next nine months had moved to the USA! My education and experience served me well and I was quickly in the ranks of another large engineering firm in the state of Ohio. Currently I am working as a Software Developer and Technical Lead for Fiserv, we provide software services to financial institutions across the globe. We are fortunate to have most of the top 10 US banks as our clients. I maintain a technical blog over I love talking tech, sharing my experiences as a technical professional. To my friends at BCU and the dedicated staff who helped me… Peace and many blessings!


BSc (Hons) Combined Health Studies, 1997 After finishing at UCE I went to University of Birmingham to do an MSc and then began psychotherapy training. I am currently managing a rehab unit in Chanthaburi, Thailand. Still in touch with someone from my course who is working in Australia (just next door!). Funny where you end up!

Class notes

2000s DUNCAN WOOD LLB (Hons), 2001

I am currently working on changing the entire legal industry in Dubai working as senior lawyer in the Dubai Government Legal Affairs Department writing legislation for the CLPD, Code of Conduct and Licencing laws in the Emirate. I am raising the standards across the board, instigating a finishing Academy for junior Emirati lawyers straight out of University, and putting in place transfer exams for foreign lawyers, regulating the industry whilst building and managing a multimillion dollar training centre to be the centre piece. I have just started a huge project with Dubai Airports training all their lawyers and stakeholders including Emirates, DNATA, Dubai Police and Immigration, FlyDUbai and Customs, re-structuring their business units and changing the processes they use too. Busy, busy!


MA Research Methodology, 2001

My book, ‘No Justice Without A Struggle: The National Unemployed Workers’ Movement in the North East of England 1920-1940’ was published by Merlin Press in 2014.


BA (Hons) Media and Communication, 2002 After leaving Birmingham I went to do my Masters degree at Bond University in Australia. I then worked in London for Turner Broadcasting, Travel Channel, before moving state-side to Boston to work in online marketing. I’m now in Seattle with my husband and two kids working as the manager for a Medical Clinic.


BA (Hons) Textile Design, 2002 I am now teaching art and photography at Codsall High School for 14-19 year olds.


Legal Studies (LLM) CPE/Pg Dip, 2002 Since leaving University, I joined UNDP as Rule of Law Analyst (Sudan) in 2005. Became member of the National Constitutional Review Commission to draft the Interim Constitution of the Republic of Sudan following a peace agreement between GoS and SPLM/A. From 2006-2010, I was Director General for Intergovernmental Relations in Office of President of Government of South Sudan. From 2010-2012, I was the Chief of Staff of the President of Government of Southern Sudan, later Republic of South Sudan In 2012, appointed Deputy Chairperson of South Sudan Law Review Commission, and currently its Acting Chairperson.

enterprise consulting by BIG DATA application and analysis. UCE is always in my heart. I wish I could take my whole family to visit England in 2015. Wish to see my lecturers and old friends from that time! Best regards to my Uni!


MSc Financial Management, 2004 I am working in children’s shoe retail, in a family business with my wife. I have spent the last eight years working as a private accountant.


BSc (Hons) Community Health Nursing, 2004 I trained to become a district nurse at UCE and have just taken on the role of Director of Professional Services at a home health agency in Florida. The qualification I gained from UCE has taken me across the pond and beyond.

NOOR AZLI MOHD YUSOF MA Visual Communication, 2004

The university has given me the right thinking and prepared me with the set of skills that gave me confidence. I’ve been in the education industry for more than 10 years in Malaysia because of great education experience that I’ve had during my studies. The tutors always believed in me and empowered me to drive my own research. The guidance given by tutors has impacted my whole life. Thank you Birmingham City University.



I graduated from university 11 years ago, it feels like it’s been a long time. I established my own company in January 2013, providing

Since graduating I went straight to work in substance misuse. Five years later in 2009 I completed my nurse prescriber course and started working as NMP for NHS addiction service in Birmingham. I have since

BEng (Hons) Communications and Networking Engineering, 2003

DipHE, 2004

then completed my RCPG1 and 2 (Royal College of General Practitioners) in substance misuse. I have had a baby boy who is now four years old. My next move is to do short courses in minor illness and injury looking to change career to ANP in primary care.


MSc Audit Management and Consultancy, 2005 After graduation I took up appointment as Deputy Auditor General in the Audit Service of Sierra Leone and moved the office from the civil service to a public office outside the civil service, with its own separate conditions of service, incorporating an enhanced salary structure. This move greatly enhanced the much needed independence of the Audit Service and enables the management to recruit and pay professionals who were well suited for the existing positions. I am happy to report that the Audit Service is now functioning very well under the leadership of a professional accountant, with a new and very professional outlook. I left the service in 2008 and joined a private consultancy firm, FJP Development and Management Consultants, dealing with consultancy work on development, strategy, financial management and training in West Africa and other African countries. I worked with this firm for a period of four years as Director. At this time of writing, I am an Associate Director with the firm. I currently reside in Laurel Maryland in the USA, where I am engaged in a full time professional Doctoral Studies for the professional DBA with the North Central University in Arizona, USA. On the completion of this degree it is my fervent desire to undertake online teaching on financial management

and international studies on finance and development. I take this opportunity to send greetings to all my classmates of the class of 2005 and to all my former tutors, I want to say thank you for what you gave to me while I was under your tutorship in the memorable campus of Perry Barr.

SARAH READ (NEÉ JONES) BA (Hons) English Literature, 2005

Currently Head of Key Stage 3 and second in English department at a lovely private school in the Cotswolds. Published a book (Shadowlands) and have become a ‘Chartered teacher of English’. Also spending all my free time travelling Europe and beyond with my husband in our fabulous campervan. Hope all fellow ‘05 graduates are happy and doing well.

SIMON BARFORD BSc (Hons) Music Technology, 2005

After eight years at Blitz Games Studios, I am now Senior Audio Designer at NaturalMotion Ltd. (Zynga Inc.), known for Clumsy Ninja and the CSR Racing series of games. I’m based in Oxford but also work with our London and Brighton Studios. Fun stuff!


MSc Finance and Management, 2005 I have a transport company in Greece and have managed to develop the company during the financial crisis.


HND Visual Communication, 2005 Hi all, anyone remember me? I was on the franchised course Hinckley and North Warwickshire College on the Nuneaton campus. Would


Class notes

love to hear from students and tutors in my classes. After leaving I went into computer support and formed Drake I.T. Services. This year I returned to my art after being inspired on Facebook. I have my own page on Facebook if you wish to connect or buy some art.


BA (Hons) Sociology, 2006 I studied sociology and benefitted from great teaching in the School of Social Sciences. Sociology supported my career choice of the care profession where I have had managerial roles. I now work for Hampshire County Council as a Care Manager in a hospital discharge team; I love my job and am currently training to become a social worker. The analytical skills I gained at BCU have helped tremendously in my career as well as the ability to appreciate different viewpoints and culture which a university as diverse and large as BCU gave me.

EMMA TRUMAN (NEE COOPER) PGCE Art and Design (Secondary), 2006

Married with a beautiful brand new baby boy and blissfully happy. Currently working at Coventry Education Business Partnership Centres delivering curriculum support workshops in various subjects, mostly to primary school children. I also volunteer as Education Officer for my local branch of Cats Protection, and deliver community art workshops both for them and as part of a local community arts group.


BSc (Hons) Computer Networks and Security, 2007 After starting my career as a software engineer in Silicon Valley, I’m now one of the founders of California-based Tiny Farms, a company developing low cost insect protein as a genuine alternative to meat.


Insects are now poised to be the next big health food - there are around 30 insect food product companies in the US, double from this time last year - and supply is the main bottleneck to growth. We’ve spent the past two years consulting on insect farming and are considered America’s foremost authority on food-grade insect rearing. We’re now using our expertise to build a highly efficient model farm, the template for a network of Tiny Farms contract farms. By combining contract farming and improved mass rearing technology we’ll make insects a costcompetitive commodity protein, unlocking the massive global animal protein market. My time studying AIDC technologies as part of the Computer Networks and Security course gave me an understanding of many of the automated systems we use to make insects an affordable protein source.


BA (Hons) International Business 2007 Hi, I hope you guys still remember me, I’m now working in Kuehne Nagel (M) Sdn Bhd - a forwarding agent in Malaysia handling import and export coordination. I’m enjoying my life here and I miss the life in UK, so much. Stay in touch: special note to Liu Zi Xiao, if you still remember me & Jason.

KEORAPETSE “KP” BUSANANG MSc Real Estate Management, 2007

Hello everyone out there, especially former lecturers and class-mates!


Further to completion of the LLB (Hons) at the then UCE, I went on to study the LPC part time at The College of Law. Subsequent to that I gained practical legal experience by working primarily as a Family Law Paralegal supporting Partners/Heads of Dept. at a number of law

firms, including Linder Myers in Manchester & Glaisyers LLP in Birmingham. I am currently undertaking my training contract at a legal aid practice in Birmingham, Mushtaq & Co. and I hope to specialise in the area of Children Law in the near future.


DipHE Adult Nursing, 2008 I worked as a health care assistant in the community for five years before deciding to become a nurse. The three years of studying was challenging but also rewarding as I am now in a job (General Med) which I love. Over the last five years as a nurse I’ve worked in gen med, surgical and as a community nurse. I decided to go back to gen med as I loved this area the most. I think it’s very important to experience various areas during your nursing career as not only will it enhance your knowledge in nursing but also give you great confidence in achieving more and help you decide your future. My aspirations are to become a senior sister in the future as I feel I will be content in this role and am working towards this at present. I feel it’s very important to set goals and you will achieve them if you are willing to work the hardest for it.

MARTIN ROVER-PARKES BSc (Hons) Business Management, 2009

Completed my Bachelors at BCU and then subsequently a Masters degree. Joined a global manufacturing on a graduate programme, after which had responsibility for marketing and product in Scandinavia, South Africa, Ireland and UK. More recently joined Royal Mail as a senior manager responsible for the product management of their International Contract business, a portfolio worth £250m. Next step is the Doctorate (2015-2019). Thank you BCU for equipping me with the skills that started all of this!

Date for the Diary! Alumni Weekend 22–25 May 2015 In summer 2015 the Students’ Union will be moving from the City North Campus (Perry Barr) to our new City Centre Campus. Join us for a final farewell weekend at the Students’ Union in Perry Barr including social, sports and networking activities.

Register your interest by emailing 2010s


BA (Hons) Acting, 2012


MA Textiles, Fashion and Surface Design, 2011 Since I returned to my hometown I have faced hardships in finding a job, but now I am currently employed teaching Art and Design subjects to A Level students. I am working towards my International Baccalaureate in Visual Arts. I have also completed writing a book on my experience in the UK. I really miss my university experience at BCU, especially Bar 42.


MSc Health and Social Care, 2011 With my MSc certificate from BCU I am now a specialist in the infectious medical centre in Libya. I also had the opportunity to work as a lecturer in Medical School/ Fourth year - community and family Medicine Dept. at University of Tripoli

SHAFION ALHASSAN BA (Hons) International Business, 2012

I got married a couple of months ago.


MA Architectural Design, 2012 I do miss Birmingham also my MArch classmates, hope you all have a good one!

I am in Russell T Davies’ two new dramas Banana and Cucumber, 15 years after Queer as Folk exploded on to the screens. Catch the action on E4 and Channel 4 from early next year.


MA International Business, 2012 Hello, it is a real pleasure to get reconnected with the University. I owe a lot to my professors there for shaping my present lifestyle. After I left BCU, I got married and also got on with some freelancing initially. Now I am an entrepreneur having my own communicative skill unit called SPEAK running one of the most unique programmes in the city and helping students come out of their shell using science and maths! We have already registered the fourth batch in one year of its inception. To add to my chart I am preparing for my Civil

Class notes

Services examination conducted in my country (India) and also into some voluntary work on helping underprivileged students with career guidance. Till now life’s been very good and hope it will get better.


MA Writing, 2012


Hi all, I have been doing supply work in SEN and EBD schools for a year following my PGCE and although it has been very challenging I have loved it (apart from being spat at and bitten that is) I have now just started a permanent/full time job in the reception class of an SEN school in Coventry and already feel I’m making a difference. I am also going through the process of becoming a foster carer for Coventry City Council.


BMus (Hons), 2013 Hi there! I am currently doing my second year of master degree (MMus) in Royal College of Music, and preparing for doctorate degree at the moment. David Wake’s fourth novel, ‘The Derring-Do Club and the Year of the Chrononauts’ was published at the World Science Fiction Convention, Loncon 3, in London in August.


BSc Dimensions in Health Care, 2012 Since completing my BSc, I have progressed my career and moved nearly 200 miles away. I have achieved the role of Unit Manager and now live happily in Devon.


MBA, 2012 I joined general MBA of BCU in September 2012. I joined a Chinese local broker as QFII sales; this company is a financial service corporate.



MA International Broadcast Journalism, 2013 I am working as a content editor and specialized in international and sport news. Also, freelancing in writing articles about human relationships and cooking.


FdA Builders Merchant, 2013 Hello everyone, I hope you’re all well. I would like to thank BCU for all their support over the last 12 months. Special thanks to Stephen Wilson and Dr Iain Graydon for their tremendous support helping me increase my confidence and drive when the chips were down. Really thank you, it is a great advert for someone with dyslexia and you can do it too even with this disability.

MSc Mechanical Engineering, 2013


Hi there, I graduated and I got MSc (distinction). Right now I am working in a water treatment plant with a company in Kurdistan - Erbil (Iraq). My study in the UK was a very good experience in my life. I hope to come back to the UK and get a PhD.

Director of Strategy for a boutique Wealth Manager with operations in North East England, Scotland and California. My role is to make sure all parts of the business deliver what is necessary to achieve our overall corporate

PhD, 2013

objectives. My MBA and PhD from BCU were instrumental in equipping me with the necessary capabilities to add real value to the organisation.


Head of Photography, 19571974


BEng (Hons) Mechanical Engineering, 2014 A lot has happened since I finished university; the excitement of receiving a first class award was palpable. I’ve moved to Muscat, Oman and have secured an internship at Shell, working as an Intern (Oil & Gas Governance and Project Management), hoping to stay here for a few months and then move on elsewhere.

ROSALIND BROWN GINN BA (Hons) English Literature, 2014

Greatly enjoyed graduating on the 4th September. Now looking forward to beginning a Masters in English Literature at the University of Birmingham.


BEng (Hons) Management of Manufacturing Systems, 2014 Finishing my part time degree has been my ticket into a new role as a Manufacturing Engineer at my workplace, UTC aerospace.

SIBONGILE SHUBANE MSc Internal Audit Management and Consultancy, 2014

Just want to say hello to the class of 2014!!! I attended my graduation ceremony in February 2014 at Symphony Hall, Birmingham and was pleased to have met some of my former lectures and classmates. I got promoted immediately after my graduation ceremony and this shows that my principals has confidence in the job that I am doing and therefore giving me more responsibility. Special thanks to my good old friends and my former lectures of BCU.

It was a long while ago and Birmingham School of Art’s Photography facility in Cambridge Street was to be demolished to make way for a car park. We were to move to an uninhabited primary school in Dorrington Road, in the wilderness off of Rocky Lane, Perry Barr and the opportunity arose to re-equip and to increase our student intake fourfold. This is a story in itself, but I want to concentrate on one equipment purchase which has made a difference to my life now… The pride and joy of Terry Butler, who taught colour printing, was the new acquisition of a fine Durst 138S enlarger, a beautifully machined workhorse which became the enlarger of choice for our students… It was the 1970s. Then we hosted an American colleague, Professor Bill Horrell from the University

of Southern Illinois who, during a short visit looking at centres of photographic education in Europe, fell in love with our Durst and, returning to his campus, ordered one for his university… Fast forward to earlier this year and the construction of a darkroom in the stable block of where I’m retired in Devon. Wanting a Durst 138S to complement my enlarging armoury, the internet was scoured and I came across one for sale in mid Illinois, a complete kit. It came via air freight, which was the cheapest transport considering the weight was more than 200 lbs. Then I saw the inventory numbers carefully inscribed on the lens barrels and the negative frame, all beginning with SIU… Could it be, and it was, the enlarger had come from an auction of surplus equipment from the University of Southern Illinois at Carbondale, and had landed in my darkroom as pristine as when it was made and certainly as well maintained as could be.. Very thankfully, it’s a small world… Thank you Terry, thank you Bill.


Lecturer in Visual Communication, 1997-2008 Hi all, I’m currently running a photojournalism course in Cardiff at the University of South Wales. I have many fond memories of teaching students at BIAD for 11 years.

To get back in touch with anyone listed here, email and we will try to reconnect you!



This winter, Birmingham Hippodrome presents a star-studded cast in what promises to be Britain’s most popular pantomime! Jack and the Beanstalk will feature Jane McDonald as The Enchantress, Duncan James as Jack and Chris Gascoyne as Fleshcreep. Gary Wilmot takes on the role of Dame Trot, Paul Zerdin plays Simple Simon, and Matt Slack takes on the role of Silly Billy. Jack and the Beanstalk opens at the Hippodrome on Friday 19 December 2014 and runs until Sunday 1 February 2015. Tickets cost £14 - £40 and are available online at or by telephoning 0844 338 5000. A five per cent transaction charge applies (excluding cash sales in person), plus postage from £1. Phone calls cost from 5p per minute. Prices and discounting subject to change.

THE PRIZE One lucky Aspire reader will win four tickets to see the all-star performance of Jack and the Beanstalk at 7.15pm on Thursday 15 January 2015.

HOW TO ENTER For your chance to win, simply send an email with ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ in the subject line to, stating your name, address and telephone number.


COMPETITION TERMS AND CONDITIONS: This competition is only open to graduates and former staff of Birmingham City University and our predecessor institutions (including University of Central England and Birmingham Polytechnic). Current employees of Birmingham City University cannot enter. We can only accept entries by email, and your entry must include your name, a valid address and telephone number. The winner will be drawn at random from all entries received by 12pm on the closing date. The prize is not transferable and there is no cash alternative. The draw will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.

Aspire magazine, Autumn 2014  
Aspire magazine, Autumn 2014