Chris Bobby - Senior Development Officer
Chris is passionate about supporting students and the role alumni can play in helping improve their University experiences.
I’m an Edinburgh native who did my undergraduate degree (Politics) at the University of Glasgow. My original plan was to study Chemistry at the University (of Edinburgh) but a crisis of confidence led me to stay on at school for my 6th year and to try some topics in social science. I worked for a year in the Insurance sector before starting my studies to help offset the costs of living and to gain some work experience. I graduated shortly before the 2008 recession and found myself doing temporary work for a number of years.
One post, that was due to last two weeks, was at a charity and set me on my path. Working as a fundraising assistant at a disability charity gave me the opportunity to meet both donors and service users, and saw that philanthropy plays a key part in providing opportunities to those that might have none. Two years after starting that role I was once again out of work but at least I had found my vocation.
The first group of students that I worked with had a very different approach, outlook and experience than those who are studying now.
In my current role I manage the team of students that contact the University’s alumni on our phone campaigns throughout the year. I’ve had the privilege of working with hundreds of students over the last five years and taken great pleasure at seeing them develop their confidence before they leave the University to pursue their careers.
The calling campaigns run throughout the year and are designed to fit around the busy workloads that our students need to manage in order to succeed in their studies. The job will often give students their first real experience of working in an office and helps develop time keeping, organisation and communication skills. As our students speak to alumni around the world and across all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds, this means that any conversation has the potential to also widen their world view and enhance their understanding of what it means to have studied at Edinburgh.
In addition to managing this fantastic team, I also get to meet both donors and the students who benefit from their philanthropy. It’s wonderful to be able to bring both groups together. Our students are incredibly grateful for the support they have been given and donors love to see the potential being realised in our students.
This week the University launches a new, prestigious global access scholarship programme for academically-gifted students around the world, from low-progression schools or regions, and without the resources to pay fees or meet the living costs of studying abroad. These scholarships will allow them to study and thrive at the university, to broaden their personal and professional horizons, and to diversify the social and economic demographics of our international student community. Our students will be calling the USA over Thanksgiving weekend to talk about this exciting new development.
Something I know...
If you don’t have children who are currently studying, you will be surprised at how different it is being a student today in comparison to 20, 10 or even five years ago. The first group of students that I worked with had a very different approach, outlook and experience than those who are studying now.
Also, I think the scale of what we do can be quite surprising. There are four full time members of staff in the Supporter Engagement team and we try to write to or call as many of the University's 250,000 living alumni as possible. Our calling team of 60 students will typically speak to 10,000 of our alumni each year. One in eight will make a gift and, of those, half are giving a regular gift. These regular gifts mean that our small team has raised over £2 million from telephone calling since I joined the University.