Zoë Cobden-Jewitt

  • Head of Philanthropy, Bell Shakespeare Company
  • BMus Music, 2000

Zoë completed her Music degree in 2000. She is currently the head of philanthropy at the Bell Shakespeare Company in Sydney Australia.

How did studying at Birmingham help with your career?

“Studying at Birmingham helped my career mainly in that it is a wonderful ‘name’ – an eminent higher-education institution, recognised the world over – and I feel incredibly proud to be listed as a former alumni with many whose names are household ones, and not just in my industry.”

What was the best thing about studying at Birmingham?

“I have several favourite memories from my time at the University. One of them was premièring new works as part of the New Music Ensemble and performing in the Great Hall. In addition to this, Birmingham as a city which was then starting to develop into the vibrant metropolis it is today, having access to instrument study at the Conservatoire as well as performances at Symphony Hall and by the CSBO (in those days under Sir Simon Rattle) and other incredible world-class artists.”

What advice would you give to current students?

“The best advice I can impart to anyone, particularly on a music course, is that which was given to me and my fellow undergraduates in the music department welcome during Freshers’ week. That advice was that, despite music being our chosen degree, it was unlikely that more that 1 or 2% of us would go on to be practical musicians or to have direct music industry employment. BUT that what we have as musicians is self-motivation, drive, discipline, tenacity and intelligence and that these will set us apart in the workplace. I think it was Ken Hamilton who told us that! He was not wrong; I feel - even at the relatively young age of 35 – that thanks in part to Birmingham, I have built a career I can be proud, and one that I hope will continue to thrive.”

What is the best thing about your job?

“Through a career in Philanthropy (fundraising) within the arts I have met incredible people, seen world-class performances and been privileged to – through the role – support some of the arts’ finest practitioners, both in the UK and now Australia. A career in fundraising is usually not considered by a graduate – I, like the majority of my peers, ‘fell’ into it. However, for a passionate, outgoing person who loves to meet new people and connect with likeminded individuals, it is an incredible career. It’s of course not without its pressures – particularly in a challenging financial environment – but I believe that if you are fortunate to work for a company in whose work and those you can believe, and with whom you identify, then you are halfway there!”