There are so many things that make me proud, indeed honoured, to be President and Vice-Chancellor here that I couldn’t single out one thing. The more I see of the University, the more I’m wowed by it. The people are so impressive and the research is really exciting.
It’s a fantastic community and one that is perhaps even more cohesive than we realise. Everyone’s very proud to be part of the University, which is great, and it’s invigorating just to hear about the work people are doing, not just here but internationally and with other communities. I’ve found that people are very friendly and happy to help, but also very willing to listen – something that I am also keen to do.
I hope that people will find that I’m a very enthusiastic and energetic person with a clear, well thought-out vision of how things should be. I’m very interested in looking at things from other people’s perspectives; I hope people will find me approachable and willing to listen to different points of view and take them into account in my leadership actions.
The experience I gained working in the US and other countries has had a profound effect on me and helped me to become a better person and a better leader. The culture in the US made a big impression on me; I was influenced by the positive, ‘can do’ approach and I’ve become a very positive and affirmative kind of person as a result. I also learned about measured risk taking, and the importance of not being afraid to try something even if it might fail. Here in the UK we’re very risk averse, which can mean that we don’t always grasp all the opportunities that come along.
For me, collegiality is the bedrock of a successful organisation. In terms of leadership, it’s very important to understand that it really matters and encourage it. To be successful, an organisation needs to have its team behind it. For the team to be effective, you have to really understand and recognise everyone’s skills.
The first thing to say is that I am keen for the University to build stronger links with our alumni and supporter community so that they can share in the benefits of a life-long relationship with the broader University community. I am also keen for our whole community to gain a better appreciation of how the many parts work together to benefit the whole. Of course this really means how we all as individuals can contribute and fulfil our goals, and share in the achievements.
We have put in place a clear and ambitious strategy to be a top 10 UK university and a leading international institution, and we have articulated what this means for our students, staff, and our alumni and supporter community. We recognise the need to remove the barriers to progress and especially the perceived (or real) ‘silos’ that exist between the different elements of our community. A greater appreciation for each other’s contribution within the University will extend to our many alumni and supporters and I look forward to welcoming feedback on the progress we make.
I hope that when my time as President and Vice-Chancellor comes to an end I’ll have helped in many ways to build a stronger university. I hope that we’ll be a top 10 university and that we’ll have created something sustainable that won’t feel in any way threatened by the changing world around us. I see enormous opportunities for the University and I don’t think we need to take too many huge steps to make the most of them.
Alumni are our greatest ambassadors and they share our considerable successes and strengths both across the UK and internationally. Their help will enhance our ability to deliver our ambitious strategy.
Alumni help keep our university at the forefront of innovation through their donations and support. For example, our campaign for the Centre for Cancer Immunology has raised over £18m so far and is bringing an effective cure for cancer ever closer. Alumni donations also provide support to our students through funds that allow them to reach their full potential regardless of financial circumstances. Further, alumni directly sustain the links between Southampton’s past, present and future with many volunteering at events for students and potential students, both in the UK and abroad. They value the opportunity to give something back and gain a great deal of satisfaction from being an active part of a world-class institution.
My colleagues find it immensely gratifying to keep in touch with our former students and see them go on to make such a positive mark on the world in so many fields. I feel privileged to welcome our alumni back to Southampton and would encourage those of you who have yet to do so to seriously consider becoming an active member of our University community.
If you do want to get involved there are a number of ways you can do so.
We always love to hear what you are up to so please do not hesitate to get in touch.
*Times Higher Education (Research Excellence Framework, 2014)
**University Business Incubator (UBI) Index, 2015