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summer 2011

The magazine for Alumni and friends of the university of hertfordshire

Raising the bar

The winners and nominees for Alumnus of the Year 2011

The enterprise issue A snapshot of the alumni setting up on their own

Elegant ideas

Step into the world of Creative Arts

You’ve given us your time, now we want to give you something back We are offering a limited number of ‘MBA Alumni Scholarships’ worth 60% off your tuition fees for the Hertfordshire MBA. Regarded as the leading management qualification, the MBA is designed to give you the critical knowledge and enhanced skills required to meet future business challenges.

Want to know more? Come along to our MBA Taster event on Saturday 13 August 11:00 - 14:00, meet with the MBA Team and listen to a lecture from Professor Keith Randle. Can’t make it in person? Email us at Find out more at To book your place contact: 01707 285507

summer 2011 issue 9



04 Welcome 05 News Find out where the University is going and where it’s been…. 08 Your news Find out what your fellow classmates have been up to since graduation 12 Research How ‘the Cube’ is revolutionising future living


14 End of Year Exhibition A choice pick of some of the best pieces from the School of Creative Art’s final year show

Cover image: Anum Dassanayake, winner of the Ted Baker award for best design development 2011

Editor: Louise Burns Art Editor: Dani Corbett Editorial Assistant: Gergana Koeva Proofing: Dawn Howton

17 Enterprise special Find out about some of the entrepreneurs that have graduated from UH

Special thanks to: Dr Mike Page, Jane Housham, Kate Cox, Liz Mortimer, Jo Iles, Betina Andersen, James Boother, Russell Fenner, Nicki Combarro, Steve Arnold, Paul Upson, Steve Corbett, David Connell, Nigel Gates, Matthew King, Rachel Dixon, Khaled Hassan, Nik Iruwan, Lucy Clark, Paul Elvidge, Jane Elvidge, Jak Kimsey, Angela Thomas, Deji Osobukola, Professor Owen Davies, Jo Wearne, Alyssa Smith, Professor Kerstin Dautenhahn, David Thomas, Tony Rosella, Jak Kimsey, Chris Dunks, Kate Griffiths and everyone who’s joined our LinkedIn group (The University of Hertfordshire Alumni Association)... Contact us: Development and Alumni Office, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, AL10 9AB Telephone: +44 (0)1707 281145 Switchboard: +44 (0)1707 284000 Email: Website:

26 Graduate Futures Top tips and careers fair news


30 UH Press Sustainable living in the twenty-first century 32 Alumnus of the Year 2011 Find out which alumni are having an impact 34 KASPAR Meet the robot that is changing lives 35 UHArts and Galleries Summer programme events and exhibitions

futures❵ regular contributors…

Siobhan Madaras Journalism Graduate

Jo-Anne Rowney Journalism Graduate

Liz Mortimer Communications Officer, Graduate Futures

Jane Housham Manager, UH Press

Gergana Koeva Editorial Assistant



Welcome We’d love to hear your feedback on Futures or anything to do with your time here… Please email us at:, or write to: Development and Alumni Office, university of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, AL10 9AB

It’s all about you... so, it’s the end of another academic year and i think it’s safe to say that 2010/11 has been a great year for the University of Hertfordshire. there’s been the win of entrepreneurial University of the Year 2010 and to celebrate this we’ve spoken to a range of entrepreneurs who studied here to see where their businesses are now and how they got there. some are just at the start of their careers, but the diversity of ideas and approaches is pretty impressive! there was the school of Creative Arts’ end of year exhibition in May, which was bigger and better than ever – we’ve provided a taster of what was on show, but would definitely encourage you to pay a visit to next year’s show if you haven’t been before. Ultimately though, it’s all about you and your memories – and that’s everyone who’s studied here since 1952. in celebration of this we’ve started a new section which focuses on what you are up to – whether you’ve recently started your own business, got married, changed career, had a baby or just want to share a fond memory of the font! As you might also notice, next year will mark the 60th anniversary since the University was founded as Hatfield technical College. We’re hoping to have a shiny, new website in the next few months, so watch this space for information on upcoming reunions, events, news and ways to get involved!

Louise Burns Editor

You may have noticed that the Alumni Web portal hasn’t been fully active recently. this is partly due to a brand new Alumni website we are building for you – and also because this summer the University is currently undergoing a whole new system change which will enhance the way that we store your data. Obviously – in accordance with Data protection - we will not be sharing your details with anyone outside of the University, but from september 2011, you may from time to time receive information which you might find interesting and relevant from departments other than the Alumni Office. We hope that this will be of further benefit to you, but if you do not wish to receive this additional information, please let us know. Once the new website is fully functional, you will be able to log in once again and update your new preferences - but until then, if you would like to alter what information you might receive in the future, please just email

Many thanks! 04

photography: istockphoto

Alumni Information

futures❵ summer 2011

futures❵ NEWS

A snapshot of news bites from around your University this summer...

Law School Update The new Law School building is nearly completed and on course to receive its first cohort of students in September 2011. To see how the building has developed you can watch the new time lapse film by typing ‘How to build a law school’ into YouTube.

Long Service Awards On Wednesday 11 May Professor McKellar, Vice-Chancellor, presented twenty colleagues from across the University with their twenty and thirty years Long Service Awards. Staff receiving awards clocked up a total of 410 years of service between them. Colleagues celebrated with friends and family at an evening reception held at Club de Havilland. Undergraduate Fees As undergraduate tuition fees continue to be a hot topic in the media, the University of Hertfordshire has confirmed its intention to set a fee of more than £6,000 for its undergraduate programmes in 2012/13. The University is proposing a range of fees up to £8,500 with an average fee of around £7,500. The fee proposals, which have been approved by the University’s Board of Governors, are subject to formal approval by the Office for Fair Access (OFFA). In determining its fee proposals for 2012, the University has been guided by its absolute commitment to delivering an exceptional student experience and its belief in the need to be fair and reasonable during a time of considerable economic uncertainty and significant change to the funding of Higher Education. The University believes that its fee proposals will ensure financial sustainability, whilst offering exceptional value for its students.

VC Inauguration On Thursday 7 April Professor Quintin McKellar CBE was inaugurated as Vice-Chancellor of the University. He delivered his inaugural lecture to guests from all across the county, which was then followed by the official ceremony. This public event took place in The Weston Auditorium on the de Havilland Campus, officiating the role that Professor McKellar took up in January of this year.



tHe UH HistOrY prOJeCt in 2012 the university of Hertfordshire celebrates the sixtieth anniversary of its origins as the Hatfield Technical College and the twentieth anniversary since becoming a university. To mark the occasion we are producing a history of the university, which will be published in the autumn of next year. We are currently conducting oral history interviews with former students and staff, and would love to receive any written memories, photographs, film footage or other mementos from your time at the College, Polytechnic or university. All contributions will be placed in the university archive. if you would like to donate any materials, get involved, or want further information then please contact the Alumni Office or email

The Tweet Is On

sports news

● University student Gavin Beard has been selected by the FA and British

Universities & College sport (BUCs) to receive the Football Futures award 2011 for his valuable contribution and volunteering to develop football and futsal across the UK. ● Four current and ex-University of Hertfordshire students and Hurricane players (Fab Garguilo, Leslie Oluwalu-Wilson, Fred Boyle and Matthew Meyer) were part of the GB American Football squad during the recent european Championship in Frankfurt, Germany. ● Home netball team Hertfordshire Mavericks continues with its run of victories, culminating in being crowned the winners of the netball super League Grand Final. Filmed by sky sports 3, the Mavericks beat surrey storm in a nail-biting 57–46 final on 9th June. ● the annual University Athletic Union Colours awards saw Jim Messenger, coach of the American Football team, awarded Coach of the Year, with his players receiving the team of the Year accolade. trampolining received the Club of the Year award.

Male entrepreneurs are using social networking sites to compete and dominate whilst women are using them to build networks, according to new research from the University. The study analysed nearly 5,000 tweets from twelve influential entrepreneurs and found that male users sent 61 per cent more self-promotional tweets than their female counterparts. Professor Karen Pine said: “It’s been interesting to see how men are using social media as an extension of the board room or playing field where they typically have to lead the competition and dominate. “Women use social media far less aggressively, they tend to use it more socially to build contacts and network with people, as is often the case in the ‘real world’.” From the study the top two entrepreneurs by tweet were Michelle Mone (1,030 tweets) and Lord Sugar (965 tweets).

smirnoff exchange project The Forum Hertfordshire was chosen as one of three venues in the UK to host the prestigious Smirnoff Nightlife exchange events. The project allows several countries to swap the best nightlife experiences they can muster with each other in a series of global parties. Last year the party was held in London and in thirteen other countries all over the world including the US, Australia, and Brazil. A key requisite of this year’s show was that students contribute to the ‘experiential’ aspect of the night. Consequently a competition was launched for design students to come up with a concept to transform the Forum refectory into a ‘Miami super-Club’. The judges were RPM (a leading events design agency), Diageo and the UHSU. The winners put pink flamingos and tropical plant life all over the venue. The event was described by attendees as ‘one of the best they have ever been to’. 06

futures❵ summer 2011


Ex-sabbatical officers On 17th June, the Elehouse played host to 15 ex-sabbs from 1998 to the present day, as well as some ex-Union staff. For those exsabbs who couldn’t attend, another reunion will take place next year on a Friday evening in June or early July. Let us know if you would like more information!

Red Nose Day Success On Red Nose Day hundreds of staff and students took part in events across the University aimed at raising money for Comic Relief. The Sports Village ran a zumba class, sports students took part in a 24-hour ‘row for dough’ event and masses of students and staff joined together to ‘dance funny for money’ to the Blues Brothers song ‘Twist It’ (Shake A Tail Feather) with Dance Psychologist, Dr. Peter Lovatt. The University flashdance appeared on the BBC’s coverage on the night and the collective events raised over £4,000, as well as setting a new indoor British rowing record of 358,579 metres.

The photo shows: Kate Griffiths - Vice President Commercial Services and Finance 2000 - 2001 and President 2001 - 2002, Liz Poll, VP Academic Support 2000 - 2002, Steve Bottomley, President 2000 - 2001, Richelle Brundle, President 2002 2003, Gareth Beard, VP Communications and Media 2000 - 2001, Chris Tedore, VP Commercial Services and Finance 2001 - 2003, and Tom Pitt-Chambers, VP Communications and Media 1998 - 2000.  

New Campus Pharmacy opens

In January the University became one of the first universities in the country to have its own campus pharmacy run by the School of Pharmacy. Managed by School staff, the pharmacy aims to enhance clinical training of the University’s pharmacy and healthcare students. Based on College Lane, it provides a full range of over-the-counter pharmacy services, a travel clinic, public health consultations and a limited prescription service. Professor Soraya Dhillon MBE, Head of the School of Pharmacy, said: “The development of an on-campus pharmacy is great news for our staff and students and reflects the entrepreneurial approach of the University. This unique development on campus assists the University in tackling some key public health priorities as well as providing a learning environment which is an exemplar within the sector”.


your NeWs Find out what your fellow students have been up to since graduation...

Jane Oliver, née ewing (PGCe) i was at Wall Hall in the mid 60s. i have got married and now live in Watford and am involved with the U3A.


John Cockling (BA Hons social sciences, 1985) After graduating with a BA Honours degree in social sciences in 1985, following studies at Balls park, i passed the solicitors’ Final examination at the College of Law in 1986, and was admitted as a solicitor in 1988.  in 1999 i was elected president of the isle of Wight Law society.  i’ve always had a wide practice and have acted in many criminal, civil and matrimonial trials as well as dealing with property, wills and tax planning.  My first police station interview led to a successful Court of Appeal decision for my client and my first criminal trial was mentioned in The Times.  i have also represented lifers before the parole Board.  On a career break in 2001 i was doing voluntary work with street boys in peru and met my (english) wife.  i am now the partner responsible for the Company, Commercial property and town planning departments at Wall James Chappell in stourbridge and have sons aged 4 and 2. rita Andrews (BA Hons social sciences, 1985) in 1970 i was working at the Hatfield polytechnic and left to have my first daughter. in 1982 i began my degree at Hatfield polytechnic and on graduation went to work in banking in the City for the next 22 years. 5 years ago i came to work at the University of Hertfordshire so i have gone full circle! i now have four children, one of whom is getting married on a Greek island in two weeks time and four grandchildren. David Wright (BA Hons Business studies, 1988) Director, Fox IT everything i’ve done in business in the last ten to fifteen years relates back to the course at Hertfordshire. i wanted to be an accountant and the course gave me my first exposure to that aspect of Business. i believe a year in industry is absolutely vital. i went to iCL (later part of Fujitsu), got a job with them and they sponsored

my Final Year. this is when we got stuck into serious business strategy and it’s what i’ve come back to time and time again. there really is no substitute for good, solid management thinking.


sally Perry, née Vaughan (BA Hons Business studies, 1990) sally perry graduated in 1990 and joined BAe pLC’s graduate training programme. she then moved in the television industry and worked on the launched of Gold, Living and BBC World, before moving to Asia where she become Vp Marketing for espn star sports in Hong Kong and singapore. she moved back to London in 2000 and joined turner Broadcasting as Vp Marketing Cnn (eMeA) and went in to establish their Corporate social responsibility function. she co-founded an art business in 2008, www.gofigurative. com which has over 1000 registered artists and many corporate and private clients. she uses her business training, skills and experience, to combine it with her passion in life, art and market making. Go Figurative has been recognised by the British Libraries ip and Business Centre as a success story case study. Geoff Whittington (msc Occupational Psychology, 1995) i completed my Msc in Occupational psychology at the University of Hertfordshire in 1995. in 2010 i gained my phD in Organizational psychology at Birkbeck College, University of London through my thesis in which i sought to convey an elaborated, research-Based Understanding of effectiveness in Coping with Workrelated stress. steve Parker (Bsc Computer science, 1996) i recently set up my own company sGp it Consultancy Ltd which provides professional it services across all industry sectors, from Finance and telecoms, to retail and Government. in addition to this, in August 2011 i will publish my first book entitled ‘shell scripting recipes’. this is designed for intermediate to advanced readers and provides a selection of recipes that can be used or modified for Unix and Linux environments. You can find out more information at my website:

photography: istockphoto



Peter Lines (Professor, engineering, 2001) i remember John Aitken (then Head of electrical and electronic engineering) and i suggesting at the Academic Board in the early 1970s that students should be properly trained in typing skills so that they could make quicker and more effective use of the timeshared mainframe computer. We were told by the then Director of the Computer Centre that if students typed more quickly the system would immediately become overloaded!! Konstantinos (Denis) Kondopoulos (mBA, 2002) After having worked in it and business skills in a variety of sectors for over a decade, i took my UH MBA dissertation to the next level when i realised its subject and founded naxtech, an internet services company helping businesses grow and attract new customers internationally. naxtech has attracted interest and customers worldwide (Hilton Hotels in china, servier pharmaceuticals, etc) with me leading the way into three main verticals of: Hospitality/ travel/ tourism, pharmaceuticals/ Biotech, Financial services/ insurance where naxtech offers mainly web development and online marketing services. i have also been involved in the sectors a speaker in events such as eyefortravel travel Distribution summit and recently became a Guest Lecturer at Oxford Brookes University (Msc Hospitality and tourism Management). ian Barnett (Bsc Geography, 2006) i have recently joined two friends setting up an independent planning consultancy in London and surrey called FullerLong planning Consultants. started in 2009, we offer expert urban planning advice for both the public and private sectors, including homeowners, developers and charities. For more information, please e-mail ian at or visit: www.fullerlong. com Caroline Lawrence, née Green (BA Hons marketing, 2007) i got married in september 2010. My two bridesmaids natasha and Victoria are also UH Alumni. the wedding took place in Devon and reception party followed at Harpenden House Hotel.  

Demi Pilavakis (Bsc Psychology, 2008) together with my brother Yan we’ve recently signed in for managing our sister Despina, who is a singer and was one of the finalists in the X Factor 2009. Additionally, she has established herself as a regular performer with her band and has been booked for gigs for the whole summer. As she is in her final year of her degree in Commercial Composition and technology at the University of Hertfordshire, she has also just released her concept album “step into the light”. now she is recording her second mix tape, while the first one will be available on itunes soon. Check her out at www.despinasworld. com, twitter despina289 and at the Facebook fan page Despina pilavakis. Jonathan Johnson (Bsc Humanities, 2009) i graduated University of Hertfordshire in 2009 with a 2:1 degree in History with Journalism and i currently work as an Assistant producer for soccer saturday at sky sports. i have been there for three and a half years, working alongside my degree and have progressed through several positions within the company. i have also had experience of working for the Daily express and i was sports editor for Uni-Verse for the three years i was at UH. i am also currently a freelance journalist for in America. Paul Davis (msc with distinction environmental management (AiemA), 2011) Undertaking an Msc at the University of Hertfordshire has contributed to the successful completion of one of my career goals. i have always aimed for a career within the environmental sector and since graduating i have been fortunate enough to experience work within this sector through establishing my own contracts with construction companies working in London ( My year at UH was not all work and as a keen fencer (GB squad 2008) i was able to join the University Fencing Club which competes in the University leagues (BUCs) where we won best fencing team in the south east 2010/2011. My enthusiasm for fencing has aided me in establishing the paul Davis Fencing Academy (www.pdf-academy., which coaches over 150 children and adults a week. since 2009 pDFA pupils have won 23 medals at County competitions. i personally still fence, trying to compete during any spare time! thanks to the University, i am also employed part time by Uno buses, project managing several schemes. thank you UH!

University of Hertfordshire Alumni Association News Update Form Contact details

If you have recently moved or altered your contact details, please let us know so that we can continue to send you Futures and eFutures: Address:

Email: Telephone/mobile number: Alumni number: In order to be as sustainable as possible, we can mail alumni jointly if they share an address. If this applies to you, please let us know: I live with

so please only send us one copy of Futures.

Futures submission – your news

We would love to hear your news – whether you’ve got a new job, got married, had a baby, moved to a new country, published a book or are just doing something interesting! Please fill in the box below and either email or post it to us at the addresses below. Once we’ve received your submission it will be put into the ‘your news’ section, so that your fellow alums can find out what you’ve been up to since leaving Hertfordshire.

Get involved!

We’d love to help you get involved with the University of Hertfordshire – if you are interested in any of the below, let us know and we can send you more information on.... Receiving a free Alumni Association membership card Working with students through talks, workshops, seminars, careers fairs or mentoring Acting as an alumni ambassador overseas Contributing articles to Futures or eFutures Donating to the Diamond Scholarship Fund (see page 28) Providing work experience for Hertfordshire students or graduates Leaving a legacy to the University of Hertfordshire

Please return your news form to or post it to: Futures magazine, Development and Alumni Office, University of Hertfordshire, FREEPOST BBT 141, College Lane, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, AL10 9BR. Please note that only UK residents can use the FREEPOST address. Information on the University’s database is held under the provision of the Data Protection Act. It will be held exclusively for promoting closer links between the University and its graduates.



Whether you’re a singer, dancer, juggler, comedian or rock star in the making, we’re looking for the very best talent Hertfordshire has to offer. Open to individuals from ages 5-105.

1st Prize ino’s Sponsored by Dom yn Hatfield and Welw £1000 Cash Prize, Shoot, £500 Photography emy One Year Valle Acad p hi Scholars

2nd Prize

3rd Prize

Special Prize

£250 Cash Prize, £250 Photography Shoot, Two Term Valle Academy Scholarship

£100 Photography Shoot, One Term Valle Academy Scholarship

One Year Recording Studio Prize from Graphic Nature Studios

Available Audition Dates: 23rd July / 30th July / 6th August / 13th August / 20th August

Are you Hertfordshire’s next superstar? 11


futuresâ?ľ research


in a box


Jo-Anne Rowney looks at the future of sustainable living – and finds that it’s shrinking



here’s always that moment, when you first move into a new house or flat, of deciding where everything is going to fit and whether you have just too much stuff. However, if you think your house is cramped take a look at ‘The Cube’. (And no, we’re not talking about the ITV game show here.) The brain child of Dr Mike Page, former engineer and reader in Cognitive Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, the Cube is a living space which contains a lounge with a table and two chairs, a 4ft wide double bed, a shower and a kitchen all within a 3x3x3m cube. The focus is on sustainable living, with the structure itself designed as “a compact home in which one person could live a comfortable, modern existence with a minimum impact on the environment”. The cosy Cube, which has been showcased at the Edinburgh Science Festival, aims to be carbon neutral and is thought to be one of the smallest eco-homes in the world – only beaten by a 2.6m ‘Compact Home’ built by Munich University. In keeping with its low carbon ethos the roof has solar panels that generate electricity, so that occupants could earn money from selling extra energy produced back to the grid, without losing any of their own supply. Despite its diminutive proportions, Dr Mike Page argues that it holds “everything you need, and is surprisingly comfortable”. The Cube stemmed from Dr Page’s work acting as a consultant. Working on a low carbon project he realised an example product would really help demonstrate new energy saving technologies. After securing funding to cover the project costs, Dr Page began researching what was really required for living and how it could be done in an eco-friendly way. “All the time I was asking myself ‘what do I actually need here?’ I was looking around my home thinking ‘what do you need?’ It’s a case of what the essentials are, rather than what we just want.” The Cube team had been in contact from a very early stage with Simon Gage, Director of the Edinburgh Science festival, who said that he would showcase the product if it could be made. Rising to the challenge Dr Page embarked on building the Cube, drawing on his original degree in Engineering. “I had to draw out and plan every last detail of the Cube. Everything was decided by us, down to the type of screw used to keep the plywood together. We were driven by the aim to have a low carbon footprint. That covered the heating, water, all the systems.” The Cube was made just in time for the Edinburgh Science Festival which opened in early April, where it was met with great interest. To date, over 400 emails


One of the smallest eco-homes in the world

have been received enquiring about the structure, including people willing to buy one of the small homes. Despite the interest, is it really feasible as a comfortable living space? After receiving comments from the festival’s visitors, Dr Page is optimistic. “Most people that have been in the Cube think it appears larger than it is. We’re really encouraged that it will be possible for someone to live in the Cube. It may not be feasible to do so for all your life, but who knows, when you’re young and it’s just one person...” Dr Page emphasised that nothing they used to build the Cube was specific to a small building, so it is perfectly feasible for it to be scaled up to a larger low carbon footprint home. “The idea would be possible for any size buildings. The Cube encapsulates the essential criteria for a low carbon footprint home.” While demonstrating practically what can be done to achieve this, the Cube also served another purpose that was “half way between engineering and psychology.” Dr Page is interested in the mitigation of climate change as a psychology issue following a paper he had written called HOT topics – habits, opportunities and thoughts – that looked at why people are reluctant to take on energy saving technologies when they are readily available. “The technologies are already there, so it is a behavioural problem. People do have the opportunities available to them so we looked at behavioural change in relation to climate change - there is always a problem and a change. For example, if someone is smoking thirty cigarettes a day, the opportunity is to smoke nothing. There is a clear input and output.” “When it comes to dealing with carbon emissions, people are not aware of the problem and no idea what to do to reduce it. The Cube is about drawing attention to working the problem out and what to do about it.” He added, “It’s about changing our way of thinking. The Cube shows what is possible and the opportunities we have.” Dr Page is currently talking to a company who would be happy to build the Cube. The interest has been overwhelming, with stories in the Huffington Post, Yahoo news and local newspapers globally. On Twitter a search brings up posts every few seconds in a different language – globally we’re all going mad for the Cube. So what’s the next stop? “Actually getting someone to live in the Cube for a serious amount of time, to do some trials if that was successful. We want to make it more accessible – it would be great if one day it can be made around the world.” f❵


Stealing the show

Photography: Gergana Koeva

Each year the School of Creative Arts’ End of Year Exhibition gets bigger, brighter and more impressive, and 2011 proved to be no exception. The Exhibition, which includes the annual Animation Exposé, fashion show and ‘Visions’ film screening, showcases the final year work from each graduating student. They come from a wide range of disciplines which cover subjects in design, film and media, music, visual arts and art therapy. This is just a snapshot of the fantastic work coming out of the School, featuring a selection of pieces from the fine art, model design, fashion, animation and applied arts courses. To find out more and to see where the School’s future artists and designers are also exhibiting, please visit www. f❵


futures❵ creative arts

Clockwise from top left Various The fashion course collections on display Rachel Massey (BA Hons Fine Art) – ‘Power Station N#5’ Josie Rowbotham (BA Character Creation and Technical Effects) –Getting Older 2011 ‘Peace’ Melanie Stevenson (BA Contemporary Applied Art; MA Art Therapy; Glass Artist) – Title ‘Obscurity’ Phillippa/Pippa King (BA Hons in Contemporary Applied Arts) – ‘Wall Flowers’ Amanda Kendall (BA Fine Art) – ‘Peel’ Freddie Lewis-Wall (BA VFX) – still from the film, Moai




photography: istockphoto

With the University’s recent win of the Times Higher Education’s (THE) Entrepreneurial University of the Year 2010 award, Futures decided to take a snapshot of some of the enterprising alumni coming out of Hatfield. Whilst these individuals are only a handful out of the hundreds of entrepreneurs that have graduated from Hertfordshire, it’s clear that there’s plenty of talent stretching across a range of different sectors and a real spirit of innovation that has inspired graduates from all years.



futures❵ entrepreneurial special

Baby love

Louise Burns monitors the progress of product development in the complex world of healthcare


hen it comes to childbirth, there is simply no room for mistakes or failures. As a result, launching a new business or product into the highly regulated healthcare industry can be a significant challenge in itself, setting aside the usual business issues that affect entrepreneurs. This steep learning curve is something that Betina Korshoj Andersen (BSc Midwifery, 2011) is still tackling as she develops her innovative new product for expectant mothers, the fetofit. Currently foetal monitoring is done using a transducer, monitoring the baby’s heart rate and movement, which is attached to the mother’s stomach via a fabric strap. It is this fabric strap that Betina wants to revolutionise: “There are a range of issues with the existing strap which makes its use difficult for


I can really see the big benefits that it will have – it’s really worth it


both women and their midwives. The strap means that when a woman moves the transducer can lose contact, making it hard to pick up the foetal heartbeat. As a result, women have to lie still, and given that movement is encouraged during labour to help with the pain, this often isn’t very comfortable.” Betina also cites issues around hygiene and different body shapes which led her to look into an alternative. The fetofit is unique through its use of adhesive straps which can be reattached to the skin without discomfort. It is designed for single patient use but its re-attachable properties mean that women

can move around and experience greater comfort, at a time when they really need it. Betina’s passion for her product really shines through and it’s clear that she really cares about making a difference in the lives, and labours, of pregnant women. “I’ve had to learn the business side as I’ve gone along and so have been doing everything from scratch. However, I can really see the big benefits that it will have and how it will help – it’s really worth it.” The next few months seem to be a pivotal point for the future of the fetofit – Betina hopes to start a full clinical trial later this year, and is currently collecting pilot evaluations from obstetricians and pregnant women. After that it’s full speed ahead for conversations with the NHS and private clinics, in the UK and abroad. “It has been tough balancing developing the fetofit with studying and family life, but I have real passion for this product. I just have to believe and keep going!” f❵

Top tips for success when designing a medical product


Ensure that your product is CE marked and has received approval from the MHRA – the authority that regulates and insures medical products. Patent your idea as soon as possible and consider the different regions where you might want to sell it – this will affect whether your patent is for the UK or worldwide. Ensure that you have a robust protocol in place for a trial. Make sure that you have ethics approval, as this is required for any NHS clinical trial. You must be persistent and believe in your product, especially in industries such as heath which are so heavily regulated, as there will be obstacles. Ask for help – I received support and advice from the research team in the The Centre for Lifespan and Chronic Illness Research (CLiCIR) and won Proof of Concept funding which made an enormous difference.

2 3 4 5 6


Who wants to be a millionaire? Siobhan Madaras speaks to the alumnus who has his eye on the next generation of entrepreneurs


or many, the 9-5 life is an accepted fate but for others, the thought of being just another cog in a working wheel is never enough. The constant strive for opportunity and innovation is what has put many famous entrepreneurs on the map and Hertfordshire based businessman Steve Arnold is no different. During our short meeting, I questioned Steve on his journey so far and in just 20 minutes he crams in a lifetime of success stories. By 1986, a 25 year-old Steve already had a business management degree and an MA in Digital Systems under his belt - the latter of which he received from the then Hatfield Polytechnic. As a natural progression, he began registering for a PhD before opting to abandon that route and scratch an age-old itch of starting his own business. Steve developed the foundations of his career with Softa, a St. Albans based company that sought to employ computer systems relating to sales, marketing and finance into businesses. Despite an explosion of computer technology in the late eighties (the time of Softa’s birth) Steve identified a gap in the market: “There were lots of people who had been brought up under traditional business disciplines and there were also those who had gone through engineering disciplines but there weren’t an awful lot of people who felt comfortable crossing both boundaries. I deliberately put myself in a position where I had a reasonable understanding of both so that I was able to take that knowledge into the market.” Initially the company’s client base consisted of a list of small businesses but very quickly grew to include large corporations including Mars, Cadburys and Rover Group. After ten years of success Steve sold Softa to global consultancy firm Deloitte where he also became a partner for five years. Although describing this time as a great personal experience, he left to develop Softa 2 – a continuation of his software and strategic consultancy path. One year later, Steve sold his company to a firm called Cognos who, today, are part of the technology and consultancy firm IBM. As Steve reels off tales of business success it’s impossible not to be captivated by his resonating sense of drive, yet remarkably, this is overshadowed by his

passion to give something back to society with his new company and the help of an online game. Aware of the fact that a degree alone will not secure a solid career, in 2009 Steve developed Dialectyx – a company focussed on helping young people develop employability and entrepreneurial skills using online software. “For individuals to develop their knowledge, skills and business acumen is something I have always considered to be an invaluable life skill but perhaps even more so now. People are becoming more and more aware of how important it is to be enterprising and this acquisition is at the core of Dialectyx and My First Million, a simulation game that we have created.” The Dragons’ Den style game allows players to put themselves in the shoes of both an entrepreneur and an investor. The game incorporates the concept of ‘experiential learning’, a field well known to Steve as this is the subject in which he leads a research project at the University of Hertfordshire. “We determined that the most effective way to acquire skills such as these was to actually experience them first hand.” In the 15 months since its launch, the game has seen tremendous success and has found residency on undergraduate and postgraduate business courses in many UK universities including Hertfordshire and Cambridge. “It’s been really well received and if I’m honest, the success has even succeeded my expectations. The feedback has been so good that we have also taken it into secondary schools, NEETs courses (Not in Education, Employment or Training) and corporate firms. The potential for the product is huge, so huge that we’ve also opened it up to a global market and had some really great feedback after trialling it at a university in Mumbai.” With Steve now about to introduce My First Million to a worldwide audience, he finishes on the qualities that have made his 25 years in business so successful: “It’s the combination of bringing the right team together with the right idea. Once those are in place, things just take a natural course and progression is not difficult. The moment they’re out of place, you find yourself running out of runway very quickly!” f❵ 19


futures❵ entrepreneurial special

Pushing the right buttons


omputers and technology have always confused me. I can switch on a computer and work the basic programmes but that, alas, is where my tecchie knowhow ends. Given this, I’m always in awe of those who understand the finer points of working a computer, before even getting into the mysteries of software, programming and coding. And I’m even more impressed by people who understand these things enough to build a successful business around them. James Boother (BSc Computer Science, 2000) is one such person. He and business partner Mike Goatly (BSc Computer Science, 1998) founded Live Software Solutions in 2004 with the aim of helping companies with their operations and sales solutions, through the magic of the CRM system (which, for the uninitiated, stands for Customer Relationship Management). The two met during their studies at the University of Hertfordshire and both went on to work for QSA, the company that had also provided James with his sandwich year placement. Currently based in Hatfield, after an initial start in St Albans, the company focuses on working with local SMEs in the South East region, predominantly in telecoms, food and professional services. They’ve also been working in collaboration with the University since 2009. So why did James and Mike decide to get back in contact with the University now? “We recognised that we are a tiny business and through working with UH there is huge scope to be involved in bigger projects and to collaboratively do more exciting things”, said James. His view is that as a small, but growing, business he can’t work on everything so focuses on the areas that they are really good at, namely CRM software development. It is this attitude that has allowed James to look at the wider picture and really see the value of networks 20

and partnering with key businesses in order to extend what can be delivered by his company. Interestingly, this is also a view shared by the University – despite being a huge organisation in the region. Russell Fenner (MSc Strategic Marketing, 2007) has worked with James to help develop the relationships with the School of Computer Science in his role as a Business Development Coordinator: “Our ‘vision’ is to build a consortium of partners to stretch what we can do but also allow for greater research and innovation – we provide the idea which our partners can then help us to turn into a usable business product.” To date, the University has worked with Live Software Solutions on two projects, with several more in the pipeline. They have also just hired a graduate, supported a project group of MEng Computer Science students and set up a community for database professionals with the University, called Sql Herts (www. Community is a word that comes up frequently with James and Russell, and it’s clear that they both believe that working and engaging with their local business community is vital to success. Russell believes it’s this which makes business relationships with alumni even more productive, “I think that people like to feel as though they’re coming back and can support students studying now”. This is something James backs up, “I really regret not continuing my relationship with the University after I left and so I had to create a new one on the back of being an alumnus”. This relationship with the University is one that will hopefully continue to grow with Live Software Solutions’s future successes. So, any final words of wisdom from James to potential software entrepreneurs? “Have fun!”- I may not get programming, but that I do understand. f❵

Photography: Istockphoto

The world of technology is fast moving and constantly evolving – Louise Burns speaks to two individuals who are setting the pace

siobhan madaras

Making media pay


here are not many twentysomethings who can claim that they have their own business; there are even less who can say that they have two businesses and fewer still who can boast celebrity endorsement…but 24 year-old Alyssa Smith (BA Hons Applied Arts and Marketing, 2008) ticks all three boxes. A self-proclaimed workaholic, Alyssa admits to missing out on time with friends and working 15 hour days to continue building the jewellery-making business that she started two years ago. “I have always been a very business-minded person with a dream to make jewellery that I know people will love. From a young age I was fascinated with beads and buttons so by the age of 14 I’d taught myself to make small pieces of jewellery and it was then that I decided to make it into a career.” Although having only graduated from her degree in 2008, Alyssa has already seen tremendous success. Her handmade jewellery has become a hot topic among the British media after being spotted on celebrities including Carol Vorderman, Suzi Perry, Gail Porter and Sienna Miller, who wore a bespoke piece that Alyssa made for her. She also joined forces with

quirky British journalist Dawn Porter to create her new collection ‘Social Butterfly’ – pieces inspired by the recent social media phenomenon. Despite building a name for herself in such a short space of time, Alyssa remains grounded and even a little surprised by the opportunities that have begun to open up for her. “I initially started my own business because I didn’t want to design for anybody else, but now it’s about more than that. This venture has opened up avenues that I never would have imagined before.” Due to her successes with promoting her brand, Alyssa has launched a second business tutoring companies on social media as an effective marketing tool. Further to that, in September 2011 she will officially become the Resident Entrepreneur at the new Peter Jones’ Academy (of Dragons’ Den fame) in Hitchin, mentoring aspiring students on their business ideas. For anyone who imagines running your own business is easy, Alyssa will be the first person to tell you otherwise: “It has been incredibly hard. It is just me in the business so finding support and financial backing was difficult. I was turned away by various people but you have to persist. There’s no denying it’s tough but it is worth every shred of effort.”

Home is where the heart is


he importance of being able to remain in your own home while battling a progressive illness or living with a disability is, for many, immeasurable. It is this relief that husband and wife duo Paul and Jane Elvidge (Management Studies, 1995 and BSc Combined Studies Physics and Geology, 1985 respectively) have ensured can be a possibility. In 1998, the couple joined forces with family members to become joint directors of a company offering 24 hour live-in care. ENA (European Nursing Agency Limited) had originally been set up four years previously by Claudio Duran and his wife Clare, Paul’s sister and a nurse of 15 years, who had discovered a niche in the care market when she was approached for help by a friend with a physical disability. Although Paul’s work with American company ChemDry had moved the family to Paris, they had always intended to return to the UK. Whilst abroad the couple had given advice from the sidelines, but when they returned home they made a permanent commitment to the business: “We saw the potential in bringing our management experience in to help establish and develop the business further. We registered the company and began our journey to create a successful partnership between the skills of business management

and healthcare services.” “The business was very promising but it was struggling to raise the needed cash flow. One of our first objectives was to help ENA manage its debts and regain independence which we achieved within two years. When we joined ENA, annual turnover was £408,000; last year, turnover had exceeded this by over £4 million.” On top of impressive figures, ENA boasts a large client base and 150 full-time employees, several of whom have been with the company for over ten years. “One of our biggest achievements has been building a robust company that is independent and debt free. It is this standing that has enabled us to provide security for our staff even during the recent financial crisis.” Together with their joint business partners, the couple, who graduated from the University of Hertfordshire a decade apart, have managed to transform a struggling business into something extraordinary, while at the same time managing to provide a service that is so precious to many. “Too often in the healthcare sector, companies either focus on business finance or on patient care; we have achieved our level of success by striking a balance and focussing on both simultaneously.” f❵ 21


Standing tall

A *

http://www. bodybalance physiotherapy.

fter graduating in the first cohort of physiotherapists, alumna Nicki Combarro, neé Smith, (BSc Physiotherapy, 1996) returned to the Hertfordshire Sports Village in 2003 to set up her business, Bodybalance Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic. Since then the clinic has expanded and is now located within the Sports Performance and Development Centre, providing state of the art physiotherapy and rehabilitation services to students, staff and the local community. As we spend more time sitting at our desks, there has been a significant rise in the number of individuals suffering from neck, back and shoulder pain. To help tackle this we offer expert appointments in Occupational Physiotherapy, as

well as running small group and 1:1 Pilates classes, which helps to teach good body alignment and breathing to improve core strength and posture. Here are our top tips to help your back and posture, to make working that little bit more comfortable: l To help maintain a correct posture your chair must be at the correct height. Your elbows should be level with or above the wrists when your hands are on the keyboard and you should use a footrest if your feet are not supported, to help protect against back pain l Always sit well back in the chair, removing arm rests if they impede access to the keyboard. The seat back can usually be adjusted to improve posture

l Aim to keep your

head balanced so your ears are over your shoulders, avoiding poking your chin out. Straining the head forwards is a common problem, often seen when the screen is set too far away l A few exercises can help relieve discomfort and prevent the onset of pain. One is a simple stretch is done standing and relieves pressure on the back and shoulders. To begin, stand and put both hands to the small of your back. Whilst keeping your head and neck steady, draw your elbows back and slightly down. Slowly arch your back and look at the ceiling – hold for a couple of seconds f❵

Grow your ideas

Plug into the Incubation Centre • Enjoy free high-spec office space and meeting room facilities • Tap into practical business advice, ideas and funding opportunities • Join our vibrant hub of budding entrepreneurs • Benefit from a respected business park location and address

Contact us on:

01707 286131 Or email us at: 22

Plug into a real business network

Photography: Istockphoto

Nicki Combarro

futures❵ entrepreneurial special

On the ladder to Fame

Gergana Koeva speaks to the man who wants to make everyone famous


ne day back in Nigeria I was asked by my girlfriend to sell some cakes. I managed to make great profit. So I took a loan from my mother and opened a small business. Before I knew it, I was selling so much and the business was growing every day.” It was this experience that pushed the young entrepreneur Deji Osobukola (MA Marketing, 2009) to develop his business skills further. This vibrant and cheerful individual was already working for the University of Hertfordshire when he started Fame – a magazine dedicated to showcasing talented students. One day he was in the library sitting next to a student he had never met before. Somehow they ended up talking and he found out that he had started his own business designing bags and selling them in the USA. He was making enough money to have built a website

and keep the company running. Deji had one question on his mind: “How does no-one know about this guy?” This simple conversation was the spark that led to Fame, and Deji couldn’t get the idea of a platform for entrepreneurial students out of his mind. Deji’s passion for being entrepreneurial is evident, and when asked about the recipe for a successful entrepreneur, he smiles and explains that a person should be willing to take on a new challenge. They should never give up and show that they believe in themselves because if you don’t believe in yourself, no-one else will. He hopes that Fame, with its profiles of entrepreneurial students, will help to develop this self-belief. Of course, there have been many problems for Fame along the way. The first was money. He couldn’t afford to build a website, so he began to read books on website creation; Deji and his cousin frequently worked until 3am until they had finished the first website. To start raising income, Deji started knocking on doors to gain advertising. He went to numerous companies and got a myriad of rejections. Nevertheless, his enthusiasm didn’t cease and gradually money started coming in to the magazine to finally get it on its feet. Although his family were really supportive most of the time, they were also encouraging him to find a solid job as they were worried he couldn’t live without a salary. Deji says that he appreciated that the decision to quit his job to start Fame was quite a significant risk, but he wanted to follow his dream, saying: “Trust me, if you love what you’re doing you won’t think about money half the time, but it’s still good to have it, because if you don’t you’re in trouble. In the end if you’re happy, money will come from somewhere.” This certainly seems to be working, as his positive energy and enthusiasm is infectious. Currently Deji is working on increasing the magazine’s distribution, coverage and circulation aiming at all UK universities, as he believes that there should be at least one publication that gives students a voice rather than celebrities. Recently he was lucky enough to meet Sir Terry Mansfield CBE, a magazine industry guru. He will be working with Deji to help him get an inside look at the industry. The future certainly looks bright for Deji, whose plans and ambitions will undoubtedly continue to grow with time: “Fame is going to improve and we are always going to be different; I never want to be average, I want to be the best and every time I do something I want to make it better.” f❵ 23

Betina Andersen – Fetofit - ‘flare Business of the Year 2011’ BSc Midwifery (2011)

Winner Betina Andersen with competition sponsor Julie meyer

i am the type of person that constantly craves new knowledge and experiences and in my mind there is nothing worse than not doing something and later asking “what if?” this mindset helped me to develop the Fetofit strap, an idea i had while studying as a student midwife. the strap-like device replaces the current wrap-round belts to provide a new and improved method of attaching foetal monitoring sensors during pregnancy and labour. prior to Fetofit, i had no business experience so i have had to start from scratch and gain my business knowledge at every turn. there is no denying that the journey has been tough but my passion for my product has enabled me to hit the ground running. Being a part of flare has been such a privilege but most importantly, it has been a real test of the strength of my business idea. the competition has been so much more than i originally anticipated. the skills i learned throughout have been invaluable and ones that i will take with me and build upon as i go through life. in particular, the process of writing a business plan particularly helped me to cast a critical eye over the strengths and weaknesses of my business and now i am able to plan future steps for development and have a clear vision of where the business is going. the support i have received from flare has been amazing and i know this has given me a push in the right direction. Winning the competition has given me the finances to push forward and made me even more determined to make my business a success.

A ‘flare’ for business Owandji Okutu – Cool Learning - ‘Entrepreneurial Spirit’ BA Business Studies (2009) We hear the phrase ‘never give up’ so often these days that it feels so clichéd. Yet, when i apply it to my experience with Cool Learning and the flare competition, it couldn’t be more appropriate. this year was the fourth time i entered Cool Learning into the competition with the previous three years being unsuccessful - unsuccessful but not failures. Despite not winning anything in the first three attempts, the support provided in the competition helped me revaluate my business idea in many aspects that i had previously overlooked. today, Cool Learning provides services that help build young people’s social skills through interactive, educating and entertaining learning experiences. We offer workshop programmes across all boroughs of London but will also be investing time over the next two years to launch Cool Learning Activities - a website to help parents find extra outdoor activities for children rather than allowing modern day technology to dominate their worlds. flare has been instrumental in the development of Cool Learning. Both my business partner Kazadi and myself have received invaluable guidance in creating a viable business model and with the support, have been able to transform an idea into a concrete strategic plan. Winning the entrepreneurial spirit award was fitting considering our perseverance in the competition and encountering setbacks like the departure of two of our original business partners in 2009. it’s hard to believe what Cool Learning is today but if there is one thing i have taken from this process, it is that persistence and self motivation are key in a successful business. with business

Owandji Okutu (r) partner Kazadi mwamba (l)


futures❵ flare

Ryan Flanagan – UniNav- ‘Most Innovative Idea’ BSc Computer Science (2010) in my final year of university, i was allocated rooms in buildings that i had never been to before. With no idea of how to find them, i did the same as everybody else and went to reception for a map. Although i’m a fairly good map reader, following the map was difficult; had i been a bad map reader, i would’ve been completely lost! i have always been fascinated by new technology and how it can be used to its full potential so it was this inquisition that spurred me to create my winning flare idea, an indoor navigation app. i developed the app in the time that i had left at university and entered into the competition, hopeful of making the final but unsure if i would. As it turns out, my idea Uninav was awarded Most innovative idea! entering flare was definitely one of the best decisions i have ever made. i met some great people and contacts along the way and developed solid skills that are not only applicable to setting up a business, but also to future employment and my personal life. the various stages of the competition really enable you to develop your business idea and constantly rethink and refine parts of it. it is a worthwhile competition for anyone with an idea no matter how big or small. i entered not knowing how far i would get and ended up walking away with a prize fund that will enable me to develop the app on a larger scale but also the confidence to push the idea further.

ryan Flanagan with awards ceremony guest stella english

Each year, the University of Hertfordshire seeks out its entrepreneurial students and alumni to compete in ‘flare’, their enterprise ideas challenge. Now in its sixth year, the competition has given many the platform to realise their ambitions and propel their business ideas to the next level. Four alumni winners of the flare 2010/11 competition share their success:

Kerry Wright – Sick Little Monkeys - ‘Most Viable Idea’ BA Model and Special Effects (2010) As an alumnus from an artistic background, i didn’t think i’d stand a chance of getting to the final of flare. in 2009 i entered the competition and made it to the second round but i was over the moon to get to the final this year, and actually win! Before flare, i had absolutely no experience of managing a business let alone starting one. Writing a business plan and preparing a pitch were completely foreign to me but the help i received from the enterprise team and the weekly workshops was brilliant. My business idea is centred around the merchandising of my ‘sick Little Monkeys’ designs. i originally came up with the idea in 2007 when i based three original designs around the concept of ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ – each monkey was seen to be harming itself in a manner attributed to its title (one was depicted cutting off its ear, another poking itself in the eye and the last was sewing up its mouth). the designs are intended to be quirky and comical and to date i have somewhere in the region of 60 different designs that i intend on making into figurines and transferring onto t-shirts, keyrings and games. With an idea like this, my worry was that the judges would misunderstand my designs and not be able to see the potential that i know this business has, so to win the Most Viable Business award has really given me confidence. the competition was very rewarding but it was also a lot of fun. each of the 12 finalists had such great ideas and i know they will all go far.

flare 2012

launches in October 2011. For further information visit

Kerry Wright


liz mortimer


Graduate Fair

Putting gra

position re

duates in a

ady to impre

As an employer, alumni or friend of the University you will be familiar with the graduating force that passes through our doors every year. Each leaver takes with them a breadth of expertise gained from the broad range of courses, developed with industry input, on offer.


t is a competitive market for both employers and jobseekers. University of Hertfordshire students have earned themselves a reputation as being of “excellent calibre” (Graduate-Jobs) just as employers have demonstrated an eagerness to recruit from this talent. This was evident at the recent Summer Jobs and Careers Fair. Over forty recruiting employers and in excess of 1,000 students and alumni joined in the buzz at the Forum Hertfordshire. Matchtech commented on how they saw “fantastic students who could fill the jobs we have now.” The event showcased some of the recruitment services on offer at Graduate Futures:

● Advertisement of vacancies – graduate, placement or internships - on our online jobs board, JobsNetPlus ● Opportunities for industry experts to deliver both corporate and skills based presentations and for students to hear more about company profiles


● Exhibitor space for employers and graduates to meet and discuss opportunities

Representatives from Milkround described the fair as “an excellent event with lively and engaged students keen to take their first step on the career path”. Many attendees had taken advantage of the year round expert support on offer from Graduate Futures, from CV feedback and interview advice to preparing a pitch, putting them in a unique position ready to impress. Employer, graduate or student - you don’t have to wait until the next fair to benefit from connecting with the University. Graduate Futures has a unique portfolio of jobs and careers events, including on campus employer presentations and the support of a team of career professionals that are easily accessible to you throughout the year. Find out more by contacting Graduate Futures, the University’s jobs and careers network. Tel: 01707 284791 Email: f❵





graduate futures

Heaven is a Cupcake: Case study “I make cupcakes and I like to eat them, sometimes I even like to share” - Lucy Clark – University of Hertfordshire graduate and creator of ‘Heaven is a Cupcake’ Lucy has been selling her cupcake creations (and I tweeted a photo and soon it had other treats) since early been seen by over 3,000 people August 2010. Her little works of art were recognised early on. Just two months after trading had begun she was awarded winner of the 2010 ‘Local Gem’ in the St Albans Food and Drink Festival Awards. Graduate Futures caught up with the Hertfordshire entrepreneur at the May Summer Jobs and Careers Fair where over 100 of her cupcakes were devoured within an astonishing ten minutes! “It sounds clichéd but ever since I was a little girl I would spend time baking with my mum and my Oma (my Austrian grandma). It was a big part of my upbringing and I always loved spending an afternoon making rock cakes or fairy cakes. I always admired my mum for her skills as a cake maker and she would make our birthday cakes every year, yet it never occurred to me to do it for myself. I always thought of it as a hobby rather than a career. Then during a break in America I was submerged in the world of cupcakes. On my return to England I celebrated my Masters results by having a party and I tried my hand at making cupcakes decorated with books… they put a smile on everybody’s faces. I tweeted a photo and soon after that it had been seen by over 3,000 people and shared by one of my favourite authors, Margaret Atwood. This encouraged me to do it as a business. The JobCentre pointed me in the right direction for support and I went on a Business Link Startup course. It really made me realise that it was possible and that I was onto something quite special. The most valuable skills I honed during my time at university and which have proved most important in my business are my organisational and time management skills – there are no Do the research and make sure extensions in real life! Recently you have something that will wor the University has been very k and that other people want. Look at supportive with my business and what is available and what you can do it was really exhilarating to join that is different. enthusiastic students and staff at the Summer Jobs and Careers Know your competition and stay ahead of the game. Keep develop Fair in May.” ing your ideas and offer something different. Always be on the lookout Check out some of Lucy’s for new trends and marketing strategies. bespoke creations and find out how to order your own on Get yourself on facebook, twitter and get blogging! These tools hav her website and Facebook e been invaluable to me and in the page: age of the internet they are one of the heavenisacupcake www. best ways of getting yourself known.



‘Top tips’ for new entrepreneurs


the diamond scholarship fund

engage & inspire Our scholarship programme is graduating... In order to meet the changing requirements and needs of students entering higher education, to coincide with its diamond jubilee year the University of Hertfordshire is setting up the Diamond Scholarship Fund. Building on the enormous success we have seen since the launch of our externally funded scheme in 2004, this new fund will give us greater flexibility in being able to offer scholarships to students of excellence who really need your support. Students will be able to apply directly to the fund for a scholarship, or for support in engaging in community projects, whether in Hertfordshire, the UK or overseas. We want to ensure that everyone's contribution creates opportunities for future generations of entrepreneurs, business leaders, health professionals, artists, lawyers, social workers, engineers and scientists.

For more information please contact Louise Burns on or visit the 'Giving Back' pages on the alumni website

futures❵ scholarships

If you are interested in finding out more about how the fund will work, please contact Louise Burns at l.burns@, or on 01707 281145.

If you would like to help launch the Diamond Scholarship Fund this year by making a donation, please fill out the form below.

Thank you.

University of Hertfordshire Diamond Scholarship Fund Donation Form Alumni no: (if known)


If you Gift Aid your donation, the University of Hertfordshire will continue to receive an additional 28p for every £1 you donate.


Please help us to increase the value of your donation at no extra cost to you, by signing the declaration below.


Donor declaration: I confirm that I am a UK tax payer and pay income/capital gains tax equivalent to the amount of tax the University will reclaim on my donations. I wish the University to treat this donation and all subsequent donations as Gift Aid donations. I will notify the University if my circumstances or name/address change.

Please send me a direct debit form so I can set up a monthly donation


OR I would like to make a one-off donation of: £10







my own preferred amount By cheque (payable to the University of Hertfordshire)/CAF cheque/or Mastercard/Visa/Maestro (Switch)/Delta/Solo (please indicate) Card No Expires

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Please cut out this form and send in an envelope to the Freepost address below: Development and Alumni Office Marketing and Communications University of Hertfordshire Freepost BBT 141 Hatfield Hertfordshire AL10 9AB Registered Charity No: 294730


jane housham

The greening of life Welcome to the section of Futures devoted to the activities of University of Hertfordshire Press, the University’s publisher. We publish books in a number of different subject areas, including History, Romani Studies, Local History, Theatre History and Psychology. We have recently launched a Sustainable Communities list and our first book under this heading is Sustainable Communities: skills and learning for place-making.


f you were asked to explain what ‘sustainability’ is, what would you say? It isn’t that easy to define. I’ve heard many different definitions as well as complaints that it’s impossible to give a comprehensive definition and even exhortations to stop using the word altogether. If pressed, I’d say sustainability – or perhaps ‘sustainable living’ – is managing the impact of human existence so that it can continue for as long as possible. But ideally there should be an element of living well in sustainability too. Sustainability throws its net very wide and draws upon expertise in a great many disciplines including environmental studies, engineering, planning, business, architecture, even heritage and the arts. This has the knock-on effect of creating 30

group studying ‘Sustainability a need for ‘hybrid professionals’ and Contemporary Art’. I’ve even who can work across a number of come across jugglers who teach disciplines. Increasingly, education ‘sustainability through circus’. is also a focus for sustainability issues, working on the principle of So it seems sustainability is a ‘catch them young’. real buzzword which is tearing up A very wide range of issues can a storm through every area of life. take on a sustainability ‘angle’ as Certainly the desire to create places well, such as – housing developments, transport, urban The idea of sustainability villages or areas of regeneration, towns – which offer high has to become more than quality of life and contribute water management, to sustainable development just a buzzword and even less obviously principles has emerged over ‘green’ issues such as sport or the last few decades as a focus conflict resolution. And different for both government policy and social and cultural groups are community action. But is there a starting to factor sustainability risk of overkill? A risk that we will all into their aims, so that there are, tire of the messages about reducing for instance, ‘Women in Green’ our carbon footprint, recycling and and groups who are ‘Out for switching off our computers and ... switch off our minds instead? Sustainability’. You can find In order to get properly under our ‘Christian Perspectives on skin, the idea of sustainability has to sustainability’ and at least one



Photography: Image of the Earthship at Stanmer Park in Brighton, UK, courtesy of Gazzat5, WikiDwelling

futures❵ uh press

become more than just a buzzword. It has to mean something to people in their everyday lives. The recent research that forms the basis for our new book looks at different local initiatives aimed at really engaging people so that they want to make better places in which to live and learn how to. In the Dearne Valley in South Yorkshire, a study addressed the problem of the gradual loss of knowledge about rivers, which has resulted in a lack of understanding of our rivers as complex systems and a diminishing of the importance we attach to them. The study drew on the reflective use of the creative arts – in this instance writing – to support ‘participatory approaches’ to river management. Both the experts and the local people involved gained skills and confidence as they tackled local

aspects of global issues. Another study looked at how the voluntary environmental work done by young people could be enhanced and made more holistic, so that, instead of just, say, clearing some undergrowth or laying a path, they actually understood how their work fitted into the overall management of the countryside and were also helped to gain skills, knowledge and values. Such voluntary work can also provide an opportunity for young people to express their views on how their community should develop. Overall, it doesn’t just need to be a ‘green workout’, it can help to form young people’s identities. In a schools-based project, children explored green issues and suggested actions they felt would have an impact on sustainability. The children discussed their ideas

with teachers, caretakers and administrators and addressed the issues that arose, such as the water used by the automatic flush in the school urinals. Assumptions turned out to be false: it was possible to teach effectively without technology; children would eat cold food. One school operated for a full day without electricity. Gaining hands-on experience of nature, some children grew vegetables in school gardens and then took their new enthusiasm home. This participative learning really helped the children to develop their own values and to apply them to their actions. A key message of the book seems to be that people will take sustainability to heart if it impacts on their own lives and they can see and understand the difference it will make. f❵

Sustainable Communities: skills and learning for place-making (ed. Rogerson et al), out now, priced £18.99.




nce again, the judges of the assessment subcommittee were faced with a difficult task. All four nominees were of excellent quality and the judges were of the unanimous opinion that all of them, in their own different ways, met the criteria for the award of UH Alumnus of the Year. eventually a “winner” had to be chosen and this year’s winner is rachel Dixon who graduated from the University of Hertfordshire in 2000 with a Bsc degree. All of us have, in the past, benefitted - at many different levels - from excellent teachers and rachel is certainly an excellent teacher. not only did she help to revolutionise ripple primary school in Barking (one of London’s most deprived areas and therefore a particularly difficult area in which to teach) by almost doubling the school’s english sAt scores in five years, but she has also made a very significant impact on the children’s cultural development with musical work of a national standard (such as her school band performing at the Music for Youth national festival and the primary proms at the royal Albert Hall). in 2010, rachel was awarded the prestigious pride of Britain award for teacher of the Year. the University of Hertfordshire and its predecessor institutions has a long and very distinguished history of producing excellent members of the teaching profession and rachel clearly exemplifies this fact. she is an inspirational role model for the students training to become members of the teaching profession and the judges of the assessment sub-committee are delighted to award the title of Alumnus of the Year 2011 to her. However, it must also be made very clear that there was an extremely close “runner-up” and that was Matthew King who graduated in 2009 from the University of Hertfordshire with a first in Law. this was despite being paralysed from the neck downwards after breaking his neck in a rugby accident in 2004. Matthew, who requires twenty-four hour care following a tracheotomy and requiring the use of a ventilator, has certainly not let these physical problems defeat him. He has been involved in volunteering and fundraising for others, doing the new York Marathon, skiing with the aid of special equipment and gaining a rugby coaching certificate. He has taught himself to paint using a mouthpiece and one of his paintings was made into a Christmas card which was sold in aid of the rugby League Benevolent Fund. the members of the assessment sub-committee felt humbled when they read of Matthew’s achievements in spite of tremendous physical difficulties and he is an inspiration to all of us - never give up. the judges would, this year, have liked to have been able to make two UH Alumnus of the Year 2011 awards, but in lieu of this have requested that Matthew be given the “Highly Commended” award.

Nigel Gates, 24th may 2011



WINNER Rachel Dixon

futures❵ alumNus of the Year 2011

Year 2011

Here are the inspirational stories of the fantastic individuals nominated for the annual Alumnus of the Year award


rachel Dixon, Daily mirror Pride of Britain Award winner - Teacher of the Year

Nik Iruwan Dato’ Nik Izani

Khaled Hassan

Khaled Hassan, who studied Humanities from 2004-2007, was recently invited to a private reception at 10 Downing street in recognition of his voluntary work and fundraising success for local hospice, Grove House. the event was organised by Baroness Warsi to celebrate the Muslim festival of eid; Khaled was invited by st Albans Mp Anne Main and was able to meet with both David Cameron and nick Clegg. Khaled represented the charitable and voluntary efforts of the st Albans Muslim community, as in addition to fasting and giving 2.5% of their wealth to charity during the month of ramadan, all Muslims are also required to perform good deeds and charitable acts. Following a recent trip to palestine, Khaled is now engaged in a project to create a friendship link between st Albans and the palestinian town of Husan. Khaled, who currently works as the events & school Liaison Officer for Oaklands College, and has recently returned from a voluntary placement to Ghana where he taught english in a school and orphanage. He is currently planning his next volunteer placement for the summer, when he hopes to visit Bosnia.


nik iruwan graduated in 2007 with a Bsc in Marketing. As well as this achievement, he is a racing driver and Malaysian motorsport icon with a long history in the sport, winning numerous titles and representing Malaysia in many international competitions – he is the former national and Asian rotax kart champion and single-seater driver. even though he is no longer in motorsports as a race driver, he has kept his passion and is the executive Director and owner of premier Hybrid Cars sdn Bhd, a sole distributor of hybrid cars in Malaysia, while also co-managing his family’s imported car trading and dealership empire. nik iruwan also runs iru1 Motorsports sdn Bhd, one of the most prominent up-coming motorsport companies in Malaysia, which aims to increase the country’s motorsport industry to the highest level possible. since its inception in 2006, it has already produced many national and international kart champions. nik iruwan has been described as a ‘young entrepreneur with burning spirit’. f❵

r fo ns s : it o ard o c a in awn serts.a m 12 pe ni.h o N 20 l o33alum il / whttps:/

futures❵ kaspar

iRobot Q

Hello KASPAR – thanks for taking the time to speak to us today. So, can you tell me a little bit about yourself? Well, I was created about five years ago in a lab in the depths of the Computer Science department. I am a robot, but look like a three year old child and I’ve been specially designed to work with people with autism. I live with lots of other robots which are being developed at the University, including Care-O-Bot who is being designed to help elderly people live independently in their own homes.


And what do you do at the University? I work with Professor Kerstin Dautenhahn and Dr Ben Robins and a team of experts who have created me, to help children with autism to communicate. I travel with them to schools and they use me to help autistic children to open up and interact with me - and ultimately with other people. I mostly work with children who have low-functioning autism which means they have great difficulty communicating with the outside world. I am there to make it easier. I am different to humans as my face is simple, not complicated and unpredictable like yours. We think children with autism find it difficult communicating with people because they are not able to process all of the complexities of human interaction – body language, tone of voice, facial movements, gestures… it’s too much to take in, so they shut down. I am here to help them open up, I’m simple, predictable and fun. We do repetitive play, such as hide and seek, as well as introducing new games. Sometimes they are a bit rough, so I have to tell them that they’re hurting me, but they also tickle my feet, which makes me laugh.


Why are you called KASPAR? Well, KASPAR is actually short for Kinesics and Synchronisation in Personal Assistant Robots. 34

However, that’s quite a long name so we decided to go for KASPAR instead... and I think it suits me!


Have you met any alumni from the University before? I don’t think so... I work with a lot of PhD and postdoctoral students but I don’t know if I’ve met any alumni. I am at a lot of events though if they want to come and speak to me!


What are your ambitions for the future? I want to help as many children with autism as I can. People are really taking an interest in me and the research we are doing. I’ve already been on the Fern Britton show, BBC News and I’ve featured in many news articles and scientific publications all over the world. People are excited by what I might be able to achieve in the future and I am too. There needs to be more KASPARs to help develop our research and give the opportunity for more children with autism to work with robots like me. We need a big KASPAR family so that we can try to help many more children.


Any final messages? We are looking for funding to develop more robots like me, to work with more children and really understand the potential for me to change the lives of children living with autism. We think I work, but we need to prove it and we want to take our research onto the next level. This means recruiting researchers, building thirty more of me and collecting lots of data to find out how I can help break the isolation of children living with autism. If you would like to find out more about me and the work I am doing, please contact my friend Jo who can give you more information – you can email j.r.wearne@ or call 01707 281273. Bye bye! f❵

futures❵ arts & Galleries

What’s on Summer 2011 Simon Roberts: We English 27 July – 4 September 2011 UH Galleries at the Museum of St Albans

Image: Blackpool Promenade, Lancashire, 24th July 2008. © Simon Roberts. Courtesy of the National Media Museum.

UH Galleries are delighted to present We English by British photographer Simon Roberts. This touring exhibition from the National Media Museum, Bradford is the result of an English road trip in search of national identity and people at leisure. During 2007–2008, Roberts travelled the length and breadth of England with his family in a motorhome, photographing people playing, relaxing and revelling in the country’s richly varied landscape. Gathered together as We English, his works are an intriguing and lyrical, personal exploration of the nation. Roberts’s project reflects the strong heritage of British landscape and documentary photography.

Evening Reception Thursday 26 July 6.00pm – 8.00pm University of Hertfordshire Galleries Museum of St Albans Hatfield Road AL1 3RR

Exhibition continues until 4 September 2011 Museum of St Albans opening hours: Monday – Saturday 10.00am – 5.00pm, Sunday 2.00pm – 5.00pm FREE ADMISSION

For further information please contact UH Galleries on +44 (0) 1707 284290 or


If undelivered, please return to Development and Alumni Office University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, AL10 9AB, England

e r i h s d r o f Hert Exhibition 2011 Open 10 December 2011 – 4 January 2012 Open to artists living or working in Hertfordshire and for Alumni of the University of Hertfordshire. Entry:

Each artist may submit 3 works. Entries will be accepted in the form of painting, sculpture, drawing, prints, photographs and applied art.

Entry Fee:

A fee of ÂŁ7.00 per work submitted.


First prize: an exhibition with UH Galleries and a selection of other prizes

Application forms will be available from the 15 October 2011 and can be downloaded from www.go.herts. or emailing For further enquires please contact UH Galleries on 01707 284290.


All submissions to be delivered in person to: University of Hertfordshire Galleries, Museum of St Albans, Hatfield Road, AL1 3RR, on Saturday 26 November from 10am-5pm or Sunday 27 November from 2pm-5pm. NO ENTRIES CAN BE ACCEPTED OUTSIDE OF THESE ALLOTTED HOURS

Artist Christina Bryant is most interested in depictions of interior spaces, signs and home. In 2008 she won first prize in the UHGalleries Open Exhibition, which allowed her to have her first solo exhibition in 2009, entitled Drawn On, Drawn In, which was housed in the Margaret Harvey Gallery. Christina graduated from the University of Hertfordshire in 2004 with a BA (Hons) Fine Art. She combines photography, detailed drawings, sculpture and performance in her work to create three-dimensional installations; through art she explores the fine line between the solid, tangible and real, and the sometimes deceptive space illusions that sculptures and architectural understandings can build.

Profile for University of Hertfordshire

futures - Summer 2011  

The magazine for alumni and the friends of the University of Hertfordshire

futures - Summer 2011  

The magazine for alumni and the friends of the University of Hertfordshire