What course did you study and when?
I studied Economic and Social History at the University from 1979-82.
What are your most favourite memories of the Edgbaston campus?
I spent most of my three years degree course moving between the lecture halls and tutorial rooms of the Muirhead Tower and the Strathcona Building, and ‘the stacks’ in the old Library – individual study spaces in the dark depths of the library archives where you could get proper peace and quiet: there were just too many friends and distractions on the main library floors!
There are so many good memories. The continuous paternoster lifts in the Muirhead Tower looping up and down inside the building without stopping were fabulous, but would be considered a terrible health and safety nightmare today!
It was all a long time ago now – ‘BL’ or ‘before laptop’. A notebook and typewriter were the standard tools. And, with no reading online, you really had to be on it to get hold of the key discussion texts to read overnight from ‘restricted access’ before anyone else.
In the summer we used to sit and chat on the grass outside the library, but it was nothing like the fabulous space and views offered by the Green Heart of the campus today. The local curry houses are still the same though!
How have you used your knowledge from University of Birmingham in your career?
Alongside the world-class personal teaching and tutoring about my chosen subject matter that I received over the period from some inspirational lecturers, who I still vividly remember, I learned to think through, construct and write coherent (and sometimes persuasive) cases/arguments which has been very important in my business life.
It also gave me the self-belief and confidence to take on any challenge thrown at me, both in my professional life as an employee in media in the early days, and later as an entrepreneur.
What has been your role in shaping EXPO2020?
My Touchline team were a partner on Dubai’s bid to host the World Expo and we have worked closely with team ever since, providing a vast range of services from the conception and execution of the original Dubai Expo 2020 logo to the writing, translation, editing, design, and the publication of multi-language newsletters, brochures, and books. We also wrote, designed and managed the websites and oversaw various other communications. We are privileged to have been part of the whole journey.
This morning I am commissioning, and editing contributions, for “World Majlis: The Essays – Conversations about our Future” which is the last in a special series of four illustrated editions on the World Majlis pillars – Planet, People, Innovation, and Future – which take inspiration from Expo 2020 Dubai’s themes and subthemes.
What are you hoping to achieve through EXPO?
To contribute to a global conversation which will lead to greater collaboration and better understanding. There is no better place to do this than Dubai, where more than 200 nationalities come together in peace.
Are you excited by our new campus in the Dubai?
You bet! I have seen the team at the University of Birmingham in Dubai turn this from a dream into reality and it’s so exciting to be a part of – and contribute to – this project for a very special global institution and one that has played such an instrumental role in my life.