British Citizen Award holder Chris Ross shares his unique route to university and how he's combining his love of football with his experience in community engagement and development.
Cert(HE) Community Education
|Year of leaving
At the moment
Having worked for professional sports teams as a senior executive, I now currently work externally across a number of professional football clubs globally providing consultancy solutions in development areas such as business turnaround, governance and income generation.
Your time at the University
I never thought education was for me. I didn’t have a strong academic background from my time at school and I left at the earliest opportunity. Instead, I went into the workplace at 16. That was until a few years later when I discovered the Community Education degree at the University of Edinburgh. It was a course that aligned with my working experience within the community regeneration and development sector and it interested me. I’d been working at the time as a Director for various local community projects within Glasgow and I felt I could learn a lot from the course and develop academically, where I had maybe lacked experience, and this is exactly what the course did for me. Moray House School of Education is where I studied and I really enjoyed my time there.
I’d been working at the time as a Director for various local community projects within Glasgow and I felt I could learn a lot from the [Community Education] course and develop academically, where I had maybe lacked experience...
When I came to university, adjusting to the daily commute was the biggest challenge. I was still living in Glasgow throughout my time, and so instead it was early morning starts to make it through for lectures and tutorials, but I really enjoyed my course and it was completely worth it.
My real passion has always been football and the University had its own football team which I was desperate to be involved in, but the commute was too much for me with the team training at Peffermill and me commuting from Glasgow at the time. Instead, I contributed to the side in a different way, I took the learning from my Community Education course and my experience of professional football teams doing more ‘in their local communities’ and worked closely with the team captain at the time to try and increase the community engagement side of the University football team.
Your experiences since leaving the University
Since leaving the University of Edinburgh I have been fortunate enough to work in the industry I had always dreamed of being involved in, professional football. This has seen me work for teams in England, Scotland and the United States. I’ve worked in new locations, experienced new communities and worked on some very exciting and rewarding projects.
To date, I have worked with more than 10 professional sports clubs including:
- Kilmarnock, Ross County, Greenock Morton, Raith Rovers, Clyde, Stirling Albion and Stenhousemuir in Scotland.
- Notts County, Cambridge United and Harrogate Town in England.
- Atlantic City and Oakland County in the United States.
My work has predominantly focused on governance, operations and income generation for the clubs and commercial side, but also for the charitable foundations, trusts and community arms many professional football clubs now have.
I have generated more than £2.5 million in external funding to date, which has gone towards both revenue and large-scale capital projects across the clubs and non-profits I have worked at.
In July 2018, I was invited to Westminster’s House of Lords to receive a British Citizen Award for "outstanding contribution to society". From a young age I was involved in supporting many community causes in North Glasgow, my local area at the time, which was one of the most deprived areas within Scotland. My voluntary work mainly centred on improving health and wellbeing, reducing social isolation and supporting community food initiatives. I also focused on causes engaged in international development and this saw me help the Scottish Fair Trade Forum, which brings together trade, campaigning and learning, Edinburgh-based UN House Scotland, which provides a regular parliamentary report to the Scottish Government, and the Monica Kirk Foundation, which focuses on developing health improvements in the form of clinics and garden complexes in Zambia. I’ve always had a keen interest in international development and I see real value in learning from other countries, sharing knowledge, resources and working with governments and nations to bring positive change to society.
Life during Covid-19
The pandemic has had a devastating effect and threatened the very existence of so many hard-working charitable organisations within the UK and left them fighting for survival and the vulnerable people they support at risk. This really resonated with me, so I offered my time during the crisis to support charities close to my interests and generated more than £250,000 in emergency grant funding to assist these organisations.
It is important to create your own opportunities, believe in yourself and be confident in what you do. If you can do that, you can really achieve something special.