My week - 9 December 2013

Marketing Director Martin Holmes talks about recruitment, the University's fundraising campaign, and our partnership with M&S.

Martin Holmes

As we approach the end of the semester, early indications are that the University’s student recruitment for 2014 entry is looking reasonably positive and, whilst the support we provide to academic colleagues across the campus remains a key priority, I was struck by the difference between the nature of my week this year as compared to the same week last year.

Whilst last year a huge amount of time an effort was being spent on some of the operational support for student recruitment, this year my focus is working on some of the very significant building blocks we are putting in place for the future. For example, we are now well into the ‘discovery phase’ of our emerging work with Microsoft in developing our CRM capability to support the Student Education Service (SES). We have also recently announced the appointment of three new Directors to lead the SES, and early in the new year we will see the benefit of these developments beginning to shape the next phase of the student experience at Leeds.

In parallel, we are supporting academic colleagues in being more externally focused in the way in which we think about new programme development. Colleagues in Engineering are working on proposals for a new partnership with a peer institution in China that has the potential to develop high quality international undergraduate education delivered both in China and here in Leeds.

Having publicly announced the Campaign for the University of Leeds last week, we are also actively developing a new approach to the relationships we have with our alumni, which balances their philanthropic support with broader benefits to be gained from an ongoing relationship between the University and its diverse alumni population at home and overseas. In this context, one of my key priorities is to try and ensure we ‘reduce the walls’ between professional services so that professional colleagues in marketing, admissions, alumni and the international team are all working together to ensure that we maximise the role of our alumni in supporting our academic strategy. For example, we are currently using our alumni in secondary schools in the UK, overseas in key international markets and in industry, as advocates for the University and also as active contributors to support the University’s aim to recruit a diverse, high quality and internationally balanced student population and to ensure that we recognise the role they play not only in recruiting students but helping design new programme development and making a direct contribution to our employability strategy.

My week ended with a rather different event involving Marks and Spencer which, unlike many of the general public lectures we have held on campus over the last year, was a very specific event with Tony O’Connor (M&S Head of Design, Menswear) to coincide with the launch of ‘The Enterprise of Culture’, a new three-year collaborative research project on the business history of fashion involving students, business and academics from other institutions, all of whom share a passion for textile design and opportunities to resurrect high-end textile manufacturing in the region.  Whilst focusing on one very specific technical area it was also a wonderful illustration of the role the University plays in helping link our academic strengths (both research and education) with business and other external stakeholders to support the regional and national economic agenda.  Discussions after the formal event highlighted opportunities well beyond the technical focus of the meeting itself and included design, textile technology, digital communications, animal welfare, marketing and sustainability.

Martin Holmes

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