BU’s Alumni of the Year 2021 award winners
Graduates making an impact across healthcare, media and the charity sector have been named the winners of BU’s Alumni of the Year Awards 2021.
The awards set out to recognise and celebrate the diverse achievements of BU’s graduates, with nominations sought from the university’s staff and alumni community.
This year there were three award winners, all linked to BU’s core purpose – inspiring learning, advancing knowledge and enriching society.
Natalie Page – Inspiring Learning Award winner
Natalie studied BA (Hons) Public Relations (BAPR) whilst at BU and graduated in 2004.
Since that time, she has carved out a very successful career in healthcare communications, working for some of the biggest names in Healthcare PR including Edelman and Ketchum. She is a strategic leader within her current team at IQVIA, with a passion for improving healthcare for patients and specialist knowledge in both respiratory medicine and paediatrics.
In addition to her career, Natalie has also successfully published two children's books – winning awards for both – and was published in the leading women's writing magazine Mslexia, demonstrating her desire to learn and push herself outside of her professional sphere.
She further inspires continuous learning by supporting final year students at her old secondary school by participating in careers days and helping students with CV writing and interview technique. She has also volunteered her time to help BU students, participating in a talk for the BAPR course on the importance of networking and compiling a list of agencies with open roles in an effort to help match graduates with possible jobs.
A fierce advocate for women in healthcare, Natalie is a Women Inspired Network (WIN) mentor within IQVIA and is passionate about supporting women in the industry recognising their professional goals. This includes helping women network across the business, address personal and professional challenges as well as getting women to think creatively about their skills and career and where it could take them.
The judges said: “Natalie has used her knowledge and experience to support both school and BU students in enhancing their employability skills. She is also a mentor for women, demonstrating a strong commitment to inclusivity and diversity. Her impact on inspiring learning on both those she has immediate contact with and wider society is evident from this nomination.”
Natalie said “I’m thrilled and honored to have been nominated and to receive this award. Since graduating, I’ve worked hard to improve my skills so I could eventually help others that would be following in my footsteps. My career has shown me that I have a real passion for supporting children and young people and I am fortunate that I am now in a position to give back to the institutions that helped me so much whilst I was young.
“Being at BU was a fantastic experience and I have made some lifelong friends. My placement at IBM gave me some incredible opportunities and contacts which helped launch my career after graduation, so I’m forever grateful to the university for the education and experiences it gave me.
If I could pass on any advice to current students, it would be firstly to enjoy every second of being at BU. Secondly, never underestimate the power of networks and people in building your CV and career. I recommend that students try and stay connected to each other, build their LinkedIn network and consider their social and family networks and whether they hold any opportunities to gain new experience or skills. Finally, look for opportunities to help others; you never know when you might need help and there is nothing so rewarding as knowing you made a difference in someone's life.”
Steve North – Advancing Knowledge Award winner
Steve was awarded an MBA (Media) with Distinction from BU in 2009. Whilst studying, Steve was working on a project which would change the TV industry in the UK and globally.
In 2007, Steve was a newly appointed head of an underperforming UKTV channel called G2. Steve led the pioneering re-brand of G2; the name of the channel was Dave. Under Steve's leadership, Dave was transformed into a multi-awarding winning channel including Channel of the Year, Brand of the Year, numerous Broadcast and RTS awards, a Gold Award for Creativity from the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, an International Emmy, a BAFTA and an audience of over 20million viewers a month.
The transformational impact of Dave continues to be felt at UKTV in the shape of other re-branded channels, substantially improved audience ratings and market share. The significance and reach of the impact also resulted in TV networks across the globe re-branding channels, and academic communities re-examining all aspects of brand identity to include the personality of media brands.
Steve is an exemplary role model and regular speaker at BU. He inspires students to develop a career in TV and passes his knowledge on to our PhD students who interview him as part of their fieldwork. He has co-published with BU staff in peer-reviewed media journals.
Reflecting on the nomination, the judges said: “Through his pioneering work on 'Dave', Steve has made a clear impact on the TV industry – winning numerous awards along the way. There is also a commitment to inclusivity through his work with UKTV's Diversity and Inclusion group. He has also supported BU students through talks to advance knowledge and enhance employability.”
Steve commented: “I’m incredibly grateful and humbled to receive this award. My time at Bournemouth University studying for my MBA helped shape the way I work, behave and think. The knowledge I gathered has been invaluable in helping me lead teams to deliver incredible success in the broadcast industry.
“It has also offered me the opportunity to return to the university and talk to students about my experiences. The media is an ever-changing environment, but the lessons students at BU will learn can provide them with the tools they need to succeed in this highly competitive and dynamic industry.”
Kwilole Chisuse-van der Boom - Enriching Society Award winner
Kwilole studied BA (Hons) Public Relations and graduated in 2013. Today she juggles a career as an Account Director at Ashfield MedComms while leading a charity based in Zambia.
Kwilole’s mother set up Funsani – a UK based charity that supports an orphanage in Kitwe, Zambia – in 2002. When she was 18, in addition to studying PR at BU, she became a trustee and then latterly the Chair of the Board. She runs the charity in her spare time, raising money for the orphanage and other charitable projects, persuading people to give what they can.
Funsani has cared for 15 orphaned and vulnerable children, providing love, HIV treatment (many of the children are HIV positive) and a full education.
Kwilole has seen first-hand what the charity can do, and she is now personally fundraising to expand their work to help even more children. While she undoubtedly has a close personal connection to the charity, her energy and determination to change lives in Zambia, coupled with her accelerating career and desire to give back to BU make her worthy of the Enriching Society Award.
The judges commented: “Kwilole is the exemplar of compassion and inspiration. She uses her personal experiences and professional competencies to make a tangible difference to the lives of others. Her charity work has made a real impact on the lives of children who have been orphaned through HIV and this is something she does alongside a full-time job. It's clear from this nomination that she makes an impact on an under-represented community, and in doing so, enriches society.”
Kwilole reflected: “I’m deeply honoured to receive the Enriching Society Award. Funsani has been a significant part of my life, and I’m so grateful that my role now as chairperson is a vocation which sits neatly alongside my career in healthcare communications at Ashfield MedComms.
“I feel enormously proud to be able to continue the charitable work started by my mother Dr. Apakombwele van der Boom-Chisuse. She and the young people that we care for through Funsani remain a continual source of inspiration to me. Their positive influence affects me daily and buoys me in times of adversity.
“During my time at BU, I gained a greater understanding and appreciation of the real impact strategic communications can have when liaising with various stakeholders. I was particularly grateful for the opportunity to apply my academic studies in the real world via a 40-week paid placement, which made me far more employable upon graduating in 2013. What will stay with me forever however, are the long-lasting friendships I made with a wide range of people from all walks of life.
“When I reflect on my career to date, and consider some of the advice that I’ve been given over the years, I think there are a few key elements which are central to success. Firstly, tenacity; be brave, be bold, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Then secondly, positivity; try to always bring a potential solution to a problem, and do it with a smile! Lastly, if you can, do something that you feel passionate about and believe in. Not only does this make the previous two points easier to deliver, it will also ensure that you’re pursuing a career that fulfils and sustains you, in every sense of the word. Life’s short. Do what you love, with people you admire and respect.”