Event Report – Alumni Networking with the Vice Chancellors of Leeds, Sheffield and York
On Tuesday 19th November 2019, the White Rose Brussels office held a White Rose alumni networking event at the Renaissance Hotel, bringing together graduates of Leeds, Sheffield and York for an evening of networking.
We were delighted that the Vice-Chancellors of all three of our universities were able to host this event; it was a great opportunity to celebrate our alumni community in Brussels and facilitate networking between the Vice-Chancellors and the alumni. Against the backdrop of the current political situation, it was particularly necessary to raise the importance of multilateral cooperation and our commitment to continuing to strengthen and reaffirm the significance of our European partnerships in achieving research excellence. Dr Phil Holliday, our European Public Affairs Director welcomed our guests to the reception, proceeding to introduce Professor Koen Lamberts, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, who provided the opening address. He noted that in the past there have been individual university alumni events for Leeds, Sheffield and York, however this is the first ever joint networking event to take place. The White Rose universities have a diverse alumni community in Brussels and it is necessary to preserve these links.
Our first speaker was Sarah Azarmgin, Senior Manager, Enterprise Risk Management at Coca-Cola European Partners, an alumna of the University of Leeds. She provided an insightful speech of her time at Leeds, and how studying Chemical Engineering shaped her future career. Our next speaker was a graduate from the University of York, Stephen Quest, Director-General of the Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union at the European Commission. He presented a perceptive account of his professional life, demonstrating that studying humanities at university provides an array of choices when deciding a career path, in Stephen’s case a financial one via politics. This was particularly valuable to some of the recent humanities graduates present in the room who are beginning their own professional journeys. Lastly, representing the University of Sheffield was Lyn Trytsman-Gray, Senior Vice President of European Affairs at RTL Group. Lyn provided a great address on how a career in the UK civil service kickstarted her work in public affairs, spanning several different sectors – from forestry to media.
The University of Leeds’ Vice-Chancellor, Sir Alan Langlands, provided the closing remarks to the evening and emphasised the importance of networks – especially an active and engaged White Rose alumni community in Brussels. He highlighted the fact that alumni associations are significant to institutions of higher education as they can offer expertise to prospective graduates, therefore it is important to preserve these partnerships. Ultimately, the evening was a success, with a high turnout of alumni from across the three White Rose universities, who were able to engage in many fruitful discussions reminiscing about their university experiences in Yorkshire. We are delighted to announce that after very positive feedback from our Vice-Chancellors, they have agreed that the White Rose Alumni event should become an annual occurrence. It is a superb opportunity for graduates from the three universities to come together for an evening of networking and strengthen the global community of White Rose alumni.