Loughborough Alumni


Alison Melvin

Business Administration with French, 1980

Alison has a specific interest in helping to support early-career graduates and is willing to offer her expertise in developing professional networks.

From my enjoyable student days onwards, I have always been extremely proud of Loughborough. Currently there is particular cause for celebration, after fantastic league table results and the exciting ‘Excellence100’ staff recruitment campaign. The university’s inspiring capacity for innovation is also much in evidence (e.g. its new Elite Athlete hotel; and the work undertaken by the School of Business and Economics on the potential for crowdfunding research.)

I have been keen for some years to work with the alumni team, to help ensure Loughborough has a world class Alumni Association that can fully support its graduates’ changing needs and assist the university and LSU to realise their further ambitions. Having recently taken partial retirement, I can now give time to this. If elected, I will be able to give the following support.

I am well placed to promote Loughborough’s work across my networks of friends and associates, and to use my strong track record of ‘opening doors’ to develop alumni collaborations and partnerships, worldwide.
I can assist Loughborough to re-engage with its 40,000 ‘lost’ alumni. Experience in developing collaborative networks gives me a good understanding of barriers to engagement, how to present incentives, and how webinars and social media can help. I am particularly interested to re-connect with overseas alumni and ‘non-traditional’ students (e.g. women returners), who may not identify with traditionally ’successful’ alumni. 
Students paying more naturally expect more. My marketing expertise can highlight the enormous value that alumni can add to students’ experiences and careers. Smart marketing of alumni services (e.g. library access, postgraduate course discounts) is also important.
Rising mental health concerns are increasing the need for universities to help graduates build resilience to stressful life transitions. I am keen to play a role in this, by creating informal opportunities for connecting, ‘opening up’ and having fun.
Having participated in April’s inaugural Women’s Alumnae Network Breakfast, it is clear that further considerable work is still needed to develop women’s confidence and courage in the workplace. I am keen to support this issue and can share my experiences of working in male-dominated sectors.

My background in marketing, communication and developing professional networks enables me to provide case study material and arrange events and webinars. 
My extensive experience of mentoring, career coaching, and of encouraging entrepreneurship and Open Innovation can contribute to Loughborough’s initiatives for lifelong learning and enterprise.
I enjoy working collaboratively and would relish working with Loughborough’s alumni team and its other networks.

Loughborough’s excellent business links are much envied; yet many business managers do not understand how modern universities operate, and hence are ignorant of the existence of many mutually beneficial roles. My relevant experience (such as developing research partnerships, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and, Doctoral Training Partnerships), coupled with my understanding of Loughborough graduates’ special qualities, can help unlock new opportunities.

My strong track record of fundraising (including obtaining funding from charitable trusts), can contribute to further raise the impressive income raised by Loughborough’s Development Fund. I also understand how the benefits and trust generated by sponsors’ non-financial support can pave the way for subsequent financial donations.
I have great interest in understanding patterns of alumni giving, and approaches used by other world-leading universities, to identify which strategies best support a lifetime of engagement.

Career history

1978-79 - Manufacturing Investment Analyst, Alcan Aluminium
My Industrial year, spent in the business change team at Alcan Plate in Birmingham, gave me insights into the introduction of disruptive IT technologies in the workplace and early immersive experience in developing communication and collaboration across different ‘tribes’ in the workplace.

1980-93 – Marketing, Logistics and Oil Trading at Mobil Oil 
After graduation, I joined Mobil Oil (now Exxon Mobil), and stayed for 13 years in a variety of roles: 

1980 – 1983, UK Distribution & Supply Analyst, London
I was responsible for scheduling crude supplies to Mobil’s UK refinery, for operating commercial contracts with other oil companies, and for managing Mobil’s compulsory stockholding position.

1984– 1986, International Crude & Product Trading, Mobil Oil International
This exciting period saw the rapid development of oil trading in the UK. I was responsible for assisted crude oil and product trading groups in negotiation and contract management, and for negotiating international reciprocal trades with other oil companies in Europe & West Africa. I also established a pioneering database system to monitor trading deals.

1986 – 1987, Market Research Manager, London 
Reporting to Mobil’s UK Advertising and Public Affairs Manager, I controlled UK market research budget of £1m p.a. Principal achievements included commissioning market research leading to launches of successful P.O.S. fuels promotion and specialist press campaign for Mobil 1 lubricant. 

1988 – 1989 - Manager, UK Lubricants, London
I was responsible for optimising manufacture of unfinished lubricants at UK refinery, and for pricing and operations of £2m p.a. finished lubricants exports. I succeeded in maintaining a continuous supply of products during major refinery engineering works. 

1989–1991 - UK Supply Manager, London
As manager of Mobil’s UK supply team, I was responsible for negotiation of UK fuel product exchanges (value £13million p.a.) and for pipeline operations and joint venture projects. I negotiated successive annual unit supply cost reductions over 3 year period; secured a major re-structuring of several major contracts, and concluded new strategic pipeline contracts. 

1992 – 1993 - Analyst, European SAP Project, London
I returned to work fulltime after the birth of my first child, as Mobil UK representative for Mobil’s European Supply and Trading SAP project, a large IT project. This assignment generated an additional challenge, when I was invited to lead the project on temporary basis following death of team leader’s wife. On project completion, I left Mobil, as part-time working was not then available. 

1993 – 1998 - Voluntary work in Belgium
I spent 5 years in Belgium, during which I worked in voluntary roles, helped to build a dynamic regional network for English speaking women with young children. I also linked with groups in neighbouring regions to run joint events and worked as Editor of the organisation’s newsletter. 

2001 - 2018 Business Development & Partnerships Manager, Forest Research
After returning to the UK, I joined the Forestry Commission’s Research Agency in 2001 to lead its Business Development, Innovation and Partnership activities, a role I held until January 2018. 

Initially I focused more on marketing and knowledge exchange, developing new networks for collaboration and knowledge transfer and led the development of FR’s initial internet presence, and established seminar and event management.

Subsequently the focus was on increasing Forest Research’s non-core grant income, which I doubled, to £3million per annum. I also developed strategic UK and global partnerships with many NGOs, government departments and private sector companies, and with over 50 research intensive universities, including the Loughborough-based Energy Technologies Institute and various Centres for Doctoral Training. 

As well as securing UK and European funding to enable Forest Research to participate in high impact research projects across a wide range of disciplines, I project-managed several resultant projects, including: 
• a £1.5 million project to train researchers in Intellectual Property management and Open Innovation. Outcomes included several patents and the launch of an environmental remediation start-up company; 
• a rural research partnership involving Universities of Surrey, Sussex, Reading and UCA, which resulted in a series of well-attended workshops and follow-on collaborations between university groups that had previously not interacted; and
• Observatree, an award-winning collaborative project involving scientists, government and NGOs which developed a cohort of citizen scientists to monitor new threats to UK tree health. 

Enduring interests in Innovation and Enterprise led to my involvement as Chair of the England’s Woodland and Timber Partnership; and engagement with the European Forest Technology Platform. The latter led to the UK’s full inclusion in this network, and to my participation in several EU for Agricultural Research taskforces.

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