US Alumni Ambassadors

Our USA alumni ambassadors are volunteers based across the States, and are there to offer advice and guidance to students and alumni. Whether you're looking for careers advice in a specific industry, or are moving to a new area, take a look at our ambassadors to see how they can help.

Qasim Ahmad, MSc Clinical Oncology, 2014

Location: New York/ New Jersey

Business details

Current position: Global Executive Medical Director, Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation.

Areas of expertise: 20 years of Global Pharmaceutical Drug Development, Strategic Medical affairs expertise and Health Management policy planning. 

Brief summary of career: I am a pharmaceutical physician trained in oncology and internal medicine and health management. I have held global and regional drug development and medical affairs teams based in US, Europe, Middle East & Asia Pacific regions. My pharmaceutical/biotech industry expertise includes drug development, strategic medical affairs, drug regulatory affairs and drug approval (experience with FDA/CHMP/PMDA) and access to drugs. I am a British National, have lived and worked in Europe, Asia Pac and US, currently residing in New Jersey.    

How I can help as an Alumni Ambassador: I look forward to offering advice and mentorship to anyone considering a career in health care & pharmaceutical industry, strategic planning, health care comparison and cultural and life style challenges across regions.

Aydin Alptekinoglu, MSc Manufacturing Engineering, 1994

Location:  Pennsylvania

Faculty profile

LinkedIn profile

Business Details

Current Position: Associate Professor of Supply Chain Management, Robert G. Schwartz University Endowed Fellow in Business Administration, Research Director of the Center for Supply Chain Research, Supply Chain and Information Systems, Smeal College of Business, The Pennsylvania State University.

Areas of Expertise: Supply Chain Management, Operations Management, Product Variety Management, Retail Assortment Planning, Mass Customization.

Brief Summary of Career: Prior to Birmingham, I had studied industrial engineering (at Bilkent). Post Birmingham, I switched to the field of operations management, and completed my PhD studies at UCLA Anderson School of Management. I have been in academia since then. Most of my time (around two-thirds) goes to research, primarily into the management of product variety. I have been studying the supply and demand side aspects of product variety, with an eye toward optimizing relevant firm decisions, such as inventories, prices and assortments. Currently my teaching activities (primarily at the undergraduate level) are focused at supply chain strategy.

How I can help as an Alumni Ambassador: I look forward to offering thoughts and advice to anyone considering academic or industry careers in supply chain management.

Katie Banchick, BA American and Canadian Studies, 1998

Location: BostonKatie Banchick

LinkedIn profile 

Current position: Technology & Business Consulting Relationship Manager.

Areas of expertise: Relationship Management, Sales Strategy and Negotiations, Marketing Strategy, Technology & Business Consulting, Executive Level Presentations and Engagements.

Brief summary of career: My career path has centered on sales and account management, with a focus on technology market research and business consulting, and past experience in academic fundraising. In my current position, I regularly partner with executives on the cutting edge of technology development and work with high profile subject matter experts and a team of strategic consultants. Confidence and knowledge across a myriad of interactions is crucial. My liberal arts education, in particular my experiences at the University of Birmingham, combined with an international MBA, have provided the multi-faceted worldview and a broad-based perspective that have been essential to my career growth. 

How I can help as an Alumni Ambassador: As an Alumni Ambassador I look forward to meeting with and hosting any member of the University of Birmingham family, sharing my business network, and furthering alumni relationships.

Natalia Coenen, MPH Public Health, 2014

Location: Los Angeles, CaliforniaNatalia

LinkedIn Profile

Current position: Project Manager, IBM Watson Health

Areas of expertise: Project Management, Data Analysis, Technical Assistance, Interpersonal Skills

Brief summary of career: I have been in healthcare services research for seven and a half years, starting with an entry level analyst position and working my way into management. My analyst roots have given me a better understanding of the data and processes we use to generate our statistics and reports, and has, in my opinion, helped me become a better project manager. The work I do is primarily for the U.S. Federal government under the Department of Health and Human Services.  I am fortunate enough to work both in an office in Santa Barbara two days a week and telecommute from home three days a week.

How I can help as an Alumni Ambassador: I would be happy to discuss what it is like living and studying in the U.K. as a student that grew up experiencing the U.S. education system. I would also be happy to discuss and provide advice to any students interested in a career in healthcare services research.  

David Drinkwater, BSc Chemical Engineering, 1987

Location: New York CityDave Drinkwater

LinkedIn Profile

Current Position: CFO, Manikay Partners LLC

Areas of Expertize: Hedge Funds, Finance, Compliance, Investment Management

Brief Summary of Career: I've worked in the financial industry for 30 years with jobs in London and New York. I've had experience with public accounting, consulting, banking and investment management. For the past nine years I've been CFO of an investment advisor with offices in New York, London and Sydney. I've lived in New York City since 1991 and have helped coordinate the alumni activities here for over ten years.

How I can help as an Alumni Ambassador: I look forward to offering thoughts and advice to anyone considering working in the financial industry in the US and/or living in New York City.

Mark Lees, MEng Electronic and Electrical Engingeering, 1989

Location: Washington DCMark Lees

LinkedIn profile

Current position: Solutions Lead for IBM at Fannie Mae

Areas of expertise: Marketing Strategy, Sales, Technology

Brief summary of career: My career has focused on technology, initially in the telecom sector with Cable & Wireless. Over the next ten years I grew to lead marketing strategy and marketing communications teams. Key highlights include working in different cultures (Macau, Panama, UK and US); leading teams, launching campaigns and executing mergers and acquisitions.

I then shifted focus to get experience of delivering services, initially with a dot com ( and then Starbase.  After a brief stint at Microsoft, I lead CSC's North American sales enablement and marketing team before taking over responsibility for an outsourced account. 

After taking over sales for CSC Public Sector for Foreign Affairs, I joined IBM to lead their solutioning of cloud and application services at Fannie Mae.

How I can help as an Alumni Ambassador: I look forward to offering thoughts and advice to anyone considering working in the technology industry in the Washington DC area.

Ross Miller, BSc Money Banking and Finance, 2004

Location:  Los AngelesRoss Miller

LinkedIn profile 

Current position: Global Financial Controller, Movember Foundation

Areas of expertise: Accountancy, Business strategy, Compliance, Financial analysis and modelling, Team management and development

Brief summary of career: I've worked in finance and commercial roles for the past 13 years, having gone from the facilities management industry in the Midlands to the charity sector in LA, it’s been quite a change! I progressed in finance from an analyst position into management, and qualified as a chartered management accountant. I currently lead a global accounting team across four countries, managing everything from day to day accounting to analysis and decision support to external reporting and audit.

How I can help as an Alumni Ambassador: I previously mentored students while living in Birmingham, and would be happy to help with career advice, whether in accounting or more generally, and give perspective on moving overseas to study or work.

If you would like to get in touch with any of our ambassadors, please email us: