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Alumni Profiles

​​​Our alumni are doing fascinating things, leading fascinating lives. In a huge variety of fields including sport, art, education, design, nutrition , business, healthcare and the media, we could pick from a dazzling array of stars and proudly say "They're one of us".

Some of these are household names - Roy Noble, Gareth Edwards, Ryan Jones, Dai Greene, David Emanuel, Julien Macdonald, John Inverdale, Michael Buerk and Helen Glover to name just a few. 

Many other alumni are not famous, but their education and hard work has helped them to fulfill their own particular dream. 

Below are some stories from your successful Alumni Network.

Jack Allen, 1961, Education (P.E.),Writer

Jack Allen graduated from Cardiff Met in 1961, since then he has been a Teacher, Rugby league professional, Head of Behavioural Unit for Disaffected Pupils, and more recently a Writer. Jack tells us about his time at the College and about his new novel:

When The Whistle Blows by Jack Allen is published by Dedalus.

Tells the story of Caleb Duck an inner-city comprehensive teacher who embarks upon a one man crusade to break the cycle of deprivation that inflicts the pupil s of his Integrated Studies Department. He fights to raise the standards in good manners, literacy, numeracy and ping pong whilst championing their right to become controllers of their own destiny. He leaves behind a trail of damaged people, property and pupils behind him in his attempt to assert the primacy of old fashioned values and give Council Taxpayers value for money.

"A wacky and original novel which will bring comic relief and a shared sense of understanding to those who have experienced the joys and horrors of teaching."Bath Chronicle

"Brutal, strange and very funny. The depraved spiral never falters. Recommended reading for anyone who misspent their youth in a comprehensive school."The Third Alternative Magazine

"Weird, warped. Hopefully there won't be too many teachers who recognise themselves in Caleb Duck, Allen's larger then life protagonist." Time Out

"Outrageous, hilarious, subversive and shocking" "The awful foul-mouthed drug-addled Caleb Duck will soon become a household name."Bristol Evening Post

When The Whistle Blows is for sale on Amazon.

What made you chose Cardiff Met?

It was THE college to go to at the time. 1958.

Which of your lecturers do you remember fondly?

Sid Aeron, Eric Thomas, Eric Williams, Hywel Evans.

What are some of your fondest memories?

Playing with some soon to be legends in Welsh rugby. Clive Rowlands, Dewi Bebb, Bob Morgan, John Davies. Dave Nash, Bill Morris (All in one team. Amazing!) Bridgend Sevens. Olympic bronze medallist Peter Radford in the team.

What has been your career path since graduating?

Teacher, Rugby league professional, Head of Behavioural Unit for Disaffected Pupils, Writer.

What has been your greatest achievement?

Father of Five. First TV Series 'JANGLES' Having first novel published.

Do you have any advice for recent Cardiff Met graduates?

Stay sharp. Always look for improvement in yourself. Contribute.

Are you in touch with any other Cardiff Metalumni?

Dr. Malcolm Reid. Same year as myself.

Louise Ashworth, 1999, Tourism Management, Product Manager at Destinology

Travel is something I have always been passionate about, from the age of 3 and a half when I first flew to America for a family holiday I caught the travel bug and knew since then that I wanted to eventually work in the travel industry. Even now I am lucky enough to travel several times per year as a part of my job and I still don't tire of the buzz you get being in the airport and that feeling you have when you arrive overseas. I am fortunate enough to have a tour operator in my own home town so I haven't had to relocate to work in the industry which has been a huge bonus for me and my family life.

What made you chose Cardiff Met?

I liked the city it didn't feel too big and intimidating, the campus was modern with great facilities and the course was exactly what I was looking for.

Which of your lecturers do you remember fondly?

Diane Sedgley, my mentor throughout my years' work experience, and also Ken Tressider who was very supportive in my final year in advising me how I could still complete the course whilst having my daughter, Ella, who was born in the March of my final year.

What are some of your fondest memories?

My fondest memory was the Cyprus field trip in my second year but I have to say I honestly enjoyed all of my time at UWIC; Cardiff was a great place to live and study.

What has been your career path since graduating?

Following my graduation in 1999, I took a 'year off' (if you can call it that as I was looking after my newborn daughter!) and started my career in March 2000 once she turned one years old. I started work at Airtours (as they were previously known as, now they have been taken over by Thomas Cook) as a Product Executive and worked there for 4 years. During my time there I was promoted to a senior product executive. I started working for my current employer Destinology in February 2004 as a Product Executive and became Product Manager, a position which I still hold today, 4 years later.

What has been your greatest achievement?

Completing my degree course whilst juggling new motherhood, I couldn't have done it without the support of my family, friends from UWIC, and the university itself.

Do you have any advice for recent Cardiff Met graduates?

If you are passionate about working in the travel industry, don't be afraid to take a role that may not necessarily be exactly what you are looking to do. Travel is an industry that enables you to move around so many different roles and it is important that you gain as much experience as you can. Many of the General Managers from some of the top resorts in the world started out their careers as kitchen porters/waiters and worked their way up the ladder. People in this industry move around so much and you never know where you may cross paths with someone again so don't ever be afraid of taking an opportunity as you never know where it may lead you in the future.

Are you in touch with any other Cardiff Met alumni?

Yes, lots of them. My best friend throughout my time at UWIC is still one of my best friends now! The wider group of us all who were friends at UWIC try and get together at least once a year too, social networking sites make it so much easier now to keep in touch and organise our annual get togethers.

To find out more about Destinology click here: Destinology

Elwyn Davies, 2004  & Liam Giles, 2004, Product Design - Spindogs

Based in sunny offices in Cardiff Bay, Spindogs is the creation of Product Design graduates Elwyn Davies and Liam Giles. From website design and management, to SEO and App development, Spindogs is reaping the rewards of the growth in the online media market.

Liam and Elwyn praised their UWIC lecturer, Roger Griffiths, for the advice and direction he gave them during a business planning module within the course: "Roger pushed us to seek advice on how to start up a new business, and to find out what business support was out there." The module ultimately lead to the pair launching Spindogs in the Spring of 2004.

After graduation, Elwyn and Liam worked hard to make the most of the help available to start-ups in Wales. Through CODA, Graduate Enterprise help, and RCT Objective 1 funding, they were able to find a premises in Abercynon. They soon discovered that their Product Design skills were best utilised in the web design world, initially using an off the shelf development product but quickly developing their own bespoke CMS offering greater flexibility for the business and the client. The first Spindogs employee is now its Technical Director, and as well as retaining staff, they also have great client retention. They put this down to being honest with customers about what can be achieved within budget, and then delivering on their promises.

Elwyn and Liam attribute their upbringings to their continued success; they both come from self-employed parents with numerous successful businesses under their belts. "We knew it was going to be hard work" they said, "but you have to see it as a challenge not a chore."

Both Elwyn and Liam now spend a lot of time talking to students, through the Dynamo Role Model scheme run by WAG.

To read more about Spindogs, check out their website: http://www.spindogs.co.uk/​​

Lowri Davies,  2001, Ceramics, Ceram icist

"Nantgarw is my inspiration – the place, its history and the rare and beautiful porcelain produced here in the second decade of the 19th century," says the internationally known ceramic artist Lowri Davies, whose work will be exhibited at the china works museum from December 9, 2011, until March 10, 2012.

Her delicate, elegant work has been shown in galleries over the world, including the SOFA (Sculpture Objects & Functional Art) exhibition at Chicago and, most recently, 'Collect' at the Saatchi Gallery, Kings Road, London. But bringing her collection home to Nantgarw, between Cardiff and Pontypridd, is the greatest thrill of all for her.

Understandable, when we recall that she was born up the hill at Tonteg, and her uncle's garage in the village, was her first studio after she graduated in Ceramics from the Cardiff School of Art (UWIC) in 2001. There is pride and delight at seeing her work displayed alongside that of William Billingsley and Thomas Pardoe in the same farmhouse turned factory where they worked nearly 200 years ago. (Some of her pieces are already on display in the museum.)

She has spent time at Nantgarw observing and copying the floral images decorating their works. Her line drawing is exquisite. As a child her father encouraged her to draw with a pen and she enjoys working small scale. "I have studied the patterns of other porcelain works – Swansea, Llanelli, Buckley, Ewenny, - and I am aware of others in the Welsh tradition and the importance of floral decoration in that tradition," she says. She draws upon those images, their formality, but giving them her own flourishes and deliciously delicate contemporary touch.

The art of making fine porcelain has been her life over the past 10 years. Still only 33, she studied the Nantgarw collections at the National Museum of Wales and at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Also among her collections are images of birds and animals inspired by the work of the Hutchings taxidermy business in Aberystwyth who operated roughly in the period between 1860 and 1940. "My parents moved to Aberystwyth when I was four and I became aware there were in many homes in the area stuffed birds and animals in glass cases which were set against atmospheric backgrounds. I don't suppose I found them in the least unusual – there were a few in my primary school, Ysgol Gymraeg Aberystwyth."

Lowri plays with traditional stereotypical Wales. There is mischief in her work. And disturbing, too, like the teapot depicting a Welsh tale about an evil spirit imprisoned in a teapot. The past, whether it is the art of Billingsley, or the ghost stories she heard at her grandparents' fireside, are all part of the inspiration.

In 2007 she went to Staffordshire University, at the heart of the potteries, to do her Masters in Ceramics Design. "I went to Staffordshire University to improve my technical ability and change the clay body that I work with. I learnt how bone china was produced in industry," she says. "I am now able to imitate those techniques. During my time there, I also had a placement at the Wedgwood Design Studio where I had the opportunity to delve into drawings and designs from their archives."

She uses bone china from Stoke-on-Trent, working with this fine clay in the Fireworks Clay Studio, Riverside, Cardiff. The forms are slip cast with the liquid clay poured into a mould and allowed to dry into the shape. The forms are biscuit fired and then given a clear or coloured glaze on to which the images are applied using a transfer-print system and decorated with gold and silver lustre. On the interior and exterior of the cups, bowls, jugs and vases are delicate drawings of cups, vessels and floral decoration imitated and developed from the traditional Welsh porcelain that she has observed and studied over the past four years.

In this age of concept art it is refreshing to meet someone with the skills and techniques to produce artistry and beauty which we can all love and appreciate.

The Nantgarw Chinaworks Museum is very much a project in progress. Here, Billingsley struggled and experimented to produce the finest porcelain in the world. Like Billingsley, Lowri learnt that porcelain is a hard master with works often ruined in the firing process. Billingsley and Thomas Pardoe painted their delicate illustrations here and Pardoe would later produced earthenware pots and clay pipes. Where the finest bone china was produced for grand palaces and mansions, and then the pots and pipes for the cottages and farms, Nantgarw is turning full circle with the lovely elegance of Lowri's work attracting world attention. Thanks to the work of the Trustees Nantagrw is coming to life again with Sally Stubbins teaching pottery and water-colouring at the Museum and she and Lowri are bringing back the traditions of the past.

In the 1990s the old farmhouse was bought by Taff-Ely Council, a part of the site was excavated and the outside kilns renovated. Further renovation saw one of the outside buildings adapted for work with schoolchildren which flourished for many years. Local authority re-organisation saw Nantgarw taken over by Rhondda Cynon Tâf.

Lowri has found inspiration in the place, and she in turn is proving an inspiration to others.
Written by -Gwyn Griffiths

Sonya Fitzpatrick, 1995, Tourism, UrParts.com

Sonya Fitzpatrick graduated from Cardiff Met in 1995 in Tourism and since then hasn't stopped, after travelling the world Sonya returned to Dublin to work for BT, she then went on to set up a business in the construction industry with her brother Simon, Sonya is now in the process of launching a new businessUrParts.com. We caught up with Sonya to see how she manages to juggle all of this plus looking after her new-born twin girls.

1. What made you chose Cardiff Met?
Originally from Cork, Ireland I had itchy feet at the age of 19 and wanted to travel and spread my wings . I searched through many of the institutions in the UK and was drawn to Cardiff for many reasons. I really liked the college prospectus of how it integrated both academic and social activities giving an exciting all round college experience.

2. Which of your lecturers do you remember fondly?
David Botterill is the person that I remember most fondly as he was always very patient and understanding and guided me through my final year thesis.

3. What are some of your fondest memories?
When I arrived in Cardiff in 1993 I was living in the halls of residence in Cyncoed. I immediately had a group of instant friends all starting on the same journey together. Having dozens of doors to knock on if you needed anything was of great comfort. I think the first year was definitely my most memorable as it involved discovering everything for the first time. Becoming independent is a huge part of University life the memories of which never leave you.

4. What has been your career path since graduating?
After graduating I spent a couple of years travelling around the world before moving to Dublin to work for BT. I spent 7 years working my way up in the Global Services Marketing Department. I then diversified completely and moved into the Construction Machinery Industry and worked with one of my siblings buying and selling construction machines worldwide. Before the recession hit our company was turning over in excess of 12 million Euro annually. We are now focusing most of our time on the launch of our new company UrParts.com specialising is sourcing new and used parts for buyers globally.

5. What has been your greatest achievement?
While running an already successful company and launching a new company at the same time, I gave birth to twin girls. They give meaning to all the hard work.

6. Do you have any advice for recent Cardiff Met graduates?
Keep an open mind to new opportunities. Know your skills, put them to use in everything you do in life. If you make a mistake, don't dwell, just move on.

7. Are you in touch with any other Cardiff Metalumni?
Yes, some of my very best friends are people that I met in first year. Although now scattered around the world we keep in regular contact and are very close.

8. Please tell us more about your organisation.
UrParts.comis a unique new website set to revolutionise the spare parts industry for Construction, Agricultural and Commercial Truck industries. What makes UrParts.com (pronounced your parts) unique is that a buyer submits 1 enquiry and it will be received by multiply suppliers and it's completely Free. The ambitions are truly global and virtually all types of parts are catered to by this unique new service. The service connects buyers and sellers from London to LA. It is set to save time, cost and effort for anybody trying to source parts.

Unlike other spare part sites that make buyers contact many suppliers separately, on this site the buyer does the work once and then sits back and waits for suppliers to respond directly to them by email or phone. It's that Simple! The creative design is so easy to use even a computer novice can work it.

It operates on a basic 3 step process:
1 - Submit a Free Enquiry
2 - The Enquiry is sent directly to specialised suppliers
3 - The buyer receives quotes directly from suppliers into their email.

The site has an intuitive messaging system that directs enquiries to the correct suppliers even without part numbers e.g. enquiries for tyres, engines, u/c, pumps etc go to the relevant part suppliers. All further communication is handled through each parties email. Buyers and Suppliers are then able to communicate, negotiate and do business freely without involvement byUrParts.com.

It initially evolved from pure frustration in sourcing parts within the construction industry. All machines consist of thousand of parts ranging from very cheap-to-replace filters and seals to very expensive main components. However, most people do not have a parts book for every machine they own therefore buying replacement parts is difficult. General industry practice also means that many construction manufacturers do not always stamp each part with a part number or specification. In many cases the owner of the construction equipment is forced to go to the main dealer and pay whatever price is quoted. However there are many suppliers that can supply the same part for a cheaper price. The problem is that the buyer has to find them, contact them all individually, compare prices and so forth before making a decision.

We offer the market a completely unique design - never been seen before and created and developed by brother and sister team Sonya & Simon Fitzpatrick. It works on the principle of matching exact criteria, supplied by both the supplier and buyer, and contacts all the potential suppliers in just one hit.

Suppliers benefit from increased enquiries from buyers who might not have found them without this service. This site can process replies through users email or through their My Account sections on the site, or independently by phone. Enquiries are always free for buyers. We do not charge any commission on transactions or restrict communications in any way. UrParts.com generates revenue by charging the suppliers a subscription fee only after they have availed of the free trial period. And only when the suppliers are receiving the benefit of genuine and direct sales enquires are they required to pay for the service.

How it works

A high degree of visual definition has been deployed on the new site in order to help make the system work easily and quickly. As the enquiry system is based on illustrations rather than descriptions it is very easy to navigate and operate. This show-and-tell visual factor is the key unique design and the main components of any enquiry are the Make, Model and Part Description. Making those three pieces of information the foundation of each enquiry is the essence ofUrParts.com system.

The confidence in the new system is such that we are very confident that just one sale justifies the short time it takes any supplier to continue to quote potential customers.
Most suppliers currently rely on local and online advertising in the hope that buyers will see their ad and contact them when they require a part. However, we believe that buyers are becoming ever-more Internet savvy and are getting more and more used to having the internet do their sourcing and purchasing work for them. Moreover the benefits work both ways as suppliers can expect to receive a higher volume of enquiries than they would through other methods.

UrParts reputation as the place to go for parts is getting more and more established in the British Isles and across Europe but the USA is the next big target market. With so many machines in North America the possibilities are endless.

We are pleased that the Government has recognised the potential and has invested in the form of a Priming & Business Expansion Grant.

Robin Fletcher, 1986, Chief Executive of the Boarding Schools' Association . Honorary Fellow

What made you choose Cardiff Met?

I attended the South Glamorgan Institute for Higher Education in Colchester Avenue (now part of Cardiff Met) for two months in 1985-6 and again for two months in 1986-7. I was 'sent' there by my employer, the Birmingham Post group, as part of my studying as a trainee journalist. While there we were taught the journalism syllabus laid down by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ), which covered among other things media law and government.

Which of your lecturers do you remember fondly?

Without doubt the late George Williams who was an elegant and very sharp law tutor. I was lucky to get to know George again later when I was an examiner with the NCTJ and later still back in Cardiff as editor of Wales on Sunday, where he was a sports contributor.

What are some of your fondest memories?

he college was excellent, my fellow journalist students were fun, and I enjoyed living first in Creigau and later Roath. At the start of 1987 there was a big freeze in Wales, and elsewhere, and I remember going with Graham Clutton (now a well-known sports journalist) to visit the Arms Park, where that week's Wales v England Five Nations match had been cancelled due to a frozen pitch. The security staff allowed us in to stand next to the rock-hard, hallowed turf.

What has been your career path since graduating?

I spent 20 years in the regional media, including as editor of Wales on Sunday and the South Wales Echo. Later I was communications director of Trinity Mirror's regional newspapers and then ran my own communications business for eight years. In 2014 I became Chief Executive of the Boarding Schools' Association, which is the membership and training body for over 500 boarding schools across the world, including several excellent schools in Wales of course.

What has been your greatest achievement? 

It was an honour to become an Honorary Fellow of Cardiff Met in 2002, but in truth I would have to say becoming a father and stepfather. A quartet of girls aged 6 to 9 keeps me very busy and honest!

Do you have any advice for recent Cardiff Met graduates?

Just as many of today's jobs did not exist 30 years ago, it's impossible to know what jobs there will be 30 years' time. As someone who has been fortunate to have had careers in different sectors, my advice would be to fill your professional toolbox with as many skills as possible. The more of these you have the more you will be able to serve the jobs market of the future and have a varied and interesting career.

Are you in touch with any other Cardiff Met alumni?

I used to work with Graham Clutton when I was editor in Cardiff, but otherwise no. But I try if I can to get to a Fellows' event every year or so and if I can I enjoy them tremendously. It is wonderful to see how Cardiff Met has developed from my days as cub reporter at Colchester Avenue.

Kevin Hogan, 2012, Applied Public Health,Project Lead: Public Health Wales

Kevin Hogan graduated, with an MSc in Applied Public Health in 2012, with a distinction and was one of the first cohorts of students to complete the course. Kevin also qualified with a PGCE in Adult Education, with distinction, in 2008.

He is currently on a one year secondment in all Wales Project Lead Role: Safeguarding Adults at Risk, working within the Safeguarding Children Service, Public Health Wales. He joined the part-time MSc course as a mature student having already worked in the NHS for over twenty five years in different roles in the acute and community sectors. Subsequently he worked in national lead and strategic roles to safeguard children and more recently to safeguard adults at risk.

What made you chose Cardiff Met?

I had already qualified with a distinction in 2008 following attendance on a part-time PGCE Adult Education course at UWIC Cyncoed/Cardiff School of Education and was very impressed by the course content and the level of support offered by the lecturers to students on that course. Therefore when I became aware of the part-time MSc in Applied Public Health at the Cardiff School of Health Sciences UWIC/Cardiff Met, I was influenced by this prior experience and also by the opportunity to study a part-time course again that proved to be very relevant to my work in Public Health Wales.

Which of your lecturers do you remember fondly?

For different reasons Alastair Tomlinson, Paul Belcher and Colin Powell all stand out in my mind as great lecturers, who were equally passionate about their subject areas. As my dissertation supervisor I am particularly grateful to Alastair for all his time and patience supporting me during the planning, implementation and subsequent completion & submission of my MSc dissertation!

What are some of your fondest memories?

The lively course debates during the MSc course that I observed and engaged in with course lecturers and fellow students from the UK and internationally during lectures and seminars on different ethical and moral topics. These debates in the classroom, which invariably 'leaked over' into the coffee breaks, consistently and productively challenged my values and perceptions of how different cultures and societies respond to some of the most fundamental health issues experienced by people across the world.

What has been your career path since graduating?

After graduating with an MSc in Applied Public Health I have remained working in the same safeguarding team within public health, but have subsequently become more involved in research & development and was also recently appointed to a Project Lead Role: Safeguarding Adults at Risk. The aim of the project is to develop an understanding of the interface between safeguarding adults at risk and safeguarding children and to provide proposals on how the safeguarding team may usefully contribute to this area of work. The PGCE in Adult Education that I completed at the former UWIC, Cyncoed Campus, has also been very beneficial to my work as it has enabled me to consider the benefits and application of adult learning principles; for example with the development of online e-learning and blended learning training programmes for NHS and contractor professionals across Wales and during a part-time secondment as an Associate Lecturer with Cardiff University. This secondment included the development of a training programme for student health visitors that also included the application and promotion of problem based learning approaches.

What has been your greatest achievement?

Following completion of one of the modules, as part of the MSc in Applied Public Health course and subsequent completion of my dissertation I have published journal articles in the Dental Health Journal (2011) regarding the 'Development of Guidance for Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adult's in General Dental Practice' and in the Annual Clinical Journal of Dental Health (2012) regarding the 'Evaluation of the Impact and Effectiveness of Safeguarding Children Training on Dental Practice'.

Recently I was also presented with a national award by the *CPHVA Education and Development Trust i.e. the 2013 MacQueen Award for Excellence in Research, following submission of a summary of my MSc dissertation research findings. I will now be using part of this award to fund and develop further research relating to a national safeguarding children campaign approach being developed in public health with the support of partner agencies.

Note: *CPHVA –Community Practitioners & Health Visitors Association

Do you have any advice for recent Cardiff Met graduates?

Keep focused on your career goals and believe in your skills and abilities. Self belief, persistence and some good fortune, along with the support of family and friends, is the essential recipe for success in achieving your goals.

Are you in touch with any other Cardiff Met alumni?

Yes, I have a LinkedIn and Facebook account and keep in contact with former students from both the MSc in Applied Public Health and the PGCE in Adult Education, both delivered initially at UWIC and subsequently at Cardiff Met University.

Dr John Kelly, 1998, SHMS, Lecturer at University of Edinburgh

Dr John Kelly (BA (Hons) Sports and Human Movement Studies, 1998) is now a lecturer at Edinburgh University, he got in touch to tell us a bit about his time at Cardiff Met which is where he spent some of the most amazing years of his life.

Wow, I cannot believe it has been so long since I left UWIC. How time flies. If I could do it all again, I would.

1. What made you chose Cardiff Met?

I had heard it was one of the best places to study sport in the UK and they offered me an interview and I loved the feel of the campus when I went for interview.

2. Which of your lecturers do you remember fondly?

Scott Fleming, Paul Davis, Geraldine Hurl spring to mind but every one of them were fantastic.

3. What are some of your fondest memories?

Being out on the astro turf learning to play hockey (which I had never played before), working in labs doing the science of human movement and the fantastic seminar discussions in sociology and philosophy of sport classes. The discussions were in-depth and lecturers facilitated student based learning. Of course, Friday nights in the Cyncoed pub were among the greatest nights of my life. Oh the memories…….lol.

4. What has been your career path since graduating?

After leaving UWIC, I worked as a residential-based student activities co-ordinator at the International Study Centre, Herstmonceux (East Sussex), owned by Queen's University (Ontario). I coordinated orientation week activities, the end of term festivities as well as numerous term time sporting and cultural trips/activities. During this period I completed a part-time Masters in Sport and Leisure Cultures at the University of Brighton. On completion of my Masters I worked at Brighton University and Roehampton University as a visiting lecturer in the sociology of sport. I then managed to win a studentship to complete a full-time PhD at Loughborough University. I worked on a part-time basis at Loughborough University as a student sub-warden in the halls of residence whilst completing my doctorate. In February 2007 I undertook my first post-doctorate position as a senior lecturer in the sociology of sport at the University of Worcester before moving to Edinburgh in September 2008.

5. Do you have any advice for recent Cardiff Met graduates?

Work hard at looking for your dream job and don't worry about making mistakes, we all make them. Make the luck come to you by putting yourself into positions where you can benefit from good fortune. For instance, due to travelling distance it actually cost me money to be a visiting lecturer in London just before I secured my funded Phd but I am sure this experience helped me secure the Phd funding and it certainly helped me cope with my first lecturing job.

6. Are you in touch with any other Cardiff Met alumni?

Yes, Grant Davis from the same course and year.

Nicole Miles, 2011, Illustration,Illustrator

Two truths and a lie: (1) I'm from The Bahamas (where I have eaten over a dozen different fruits that would be considered exotic). (2) I have a gorgeous pet snake named Mr Toots. (3) I was once part of a brilliant trapeze act, but our stunts were so extreme we were banned from performing and the group disbanded.

It's funny, when I tell people I'm from The Bahamas, the response I usually get is, WHY would you come to WALES?! I know The Bahamas definitely has one up on the UK in terms of weather, no question! But no country is without its problems, but it's sort of strange and a little sad to hear some Brits speak despondently about the UK. I think it's just as true for nations as for people: if you're constantly being self-deprecating and pessimistic, that attitude will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It's necessary to be realistic to tackle problems, but a little self-confidence and positivity goes a long way. Actually, I find the UK a pretty inspiring place to be. There is a lot going on, it's easy to find niches that you fit into, and other countries are easy to get to. Of course I love The Bahamas (and obviously I miss my family and friends) but the art community, though close-knit, is very small and it's easy to fall outside of the norm. I guess people think of The Bahamas as a holiday destination and the idea of 'work' doesn't easily fit into that image. Contrary to popular belief, we don't sit on the beach drinking rum all day. You have to work too. And if the work you want to do isn't an option, that's a pretty frustrating position to be in. I left The Bahamas to put myself in the best position to pursue what I love.

When I was about fourteen I got into making work digitally using a graphics tablet, and was very into blogging and posting work online which, I believe, has made me really comfortable reaching out to people and making connections online. Nowadays my work is primarily digital, but I enjoy working in more tactile media as well (ink, printmaking, sewing and knitting to name a few).

My work is commercial. I like that. I think it's more capable of reaching people in a real way in the commercial sphere than on gallery walls. I don't want my work to take itself too seriously or to be elitist. It's meant to be fun, engaging and to tell a story. Don't get me wrong, I love galleries (and have contributed to several shows internationally), but I think illustration and design are brilliant tools to speak to the general public. The work is meant to be accessible. It isn't meant to distance itself from people behind false meaning and ambiguity. It isn't meant to talk to a cultural aristocracy…At least my work isn't.

Although I have a long list of artists I respect and admire (whether for their work itself or their ethos), I think it's more important to take influences from experiences in the real world around you. I won't go into the studio and work eight hours straight every day. I can't. I need to go do things to fuel my work otherwise ideas become flat and end up being recycled ad infinitum. That's pretty boring.

What made you chose Cardiff Met?

In truth, it was partly by chance, partly practicality. In high school I was a pretty avid uni-prospectus collector - a connoisseur, if you will. I'd pore over the pages of different uni courses and look through their class options and get really hyped up imagining what it'd be like to be surrounded by equally amped up creative people, like a true dork.

In the end, I only applied to three places and got into each of them (no sweat…joking!). But I didn't like the feel of the other places I visited: one was too massive and SUPER-commercial and conformist for an art school, the other seemed like it was in too much of an 'old person' city, and I'd been to Cardiff before and enjoyed the city. Sounds kind of like a Goldilocks story, but I think it's important to remember uni is very much what you make it and no matter what a course offers, where it is, who teaches it, it's always going to be down to how you use it and what you make of your experiences.

Which of your lecturers do you remember fondly?

The whole illustration team is passionate about the subject and great at what they do. Each of them approaches all aspects of illustration in a different way and I often recall snippets of advice they gave us. Our year was lucky enough to have Theo Humphries leading much of our theory and dissertation modules. I really enjoyed Theo's analytical approach which helped me to start thinking more about the theory of what I was doing and it complemented some of the practical work as well. There were a lot of interesting discussions to be had and I really appreciated his input.

After we graduated Anna Bhushan joined the course and, though I've only met her on a few occasions, I think I'd really love to have had her as a tutor too since her commercial experience would have been invaluable to me as a student wanting to get into similar areas.

What are some of your fondest memories?

My fondest memories of uni involve the relationships I made with fellow students for the most part. In regards to the course itself, my fondest memories are of our Picaresque module and screen printing (which I wish I'd discovered earlier on). Picaresque was a project where we had to go find an illustrator and 'interview' them. I was due to be on vacation in Boston, USA, with my family around the time of the project and I convinced them to drive me down to New York City (what gems they are!) to meet up with Roxanna Vizcarra (in-house illustrator at Rockstar Games) who is a really wonderful and generous person who I'm happy to say is now my friend. It was she, in fact, who told me to try screen printing! And I'm glad she did. The Illustration course was lucky to have our own little area to print in (so we didn't get in the way of Fine Art's full-time Printmakers) and the expertise of Chris Lloyd who is absolutely lovely! His enthusiasm for the craft is tangible and infectious. I'm really grateful for those two experiences.

What has been your career path since graduating?

I've veered off of the original solely editorial path I envisioned and sort of headed into the realm of narrative and character design, but I still love the idea of explaining things in a clear and visually interesting way. I got an agent not long after graduating, but that didn't work out for me so now I'm flying solo and working on a lot more self-directed projects.
I've entered what I consider a new learning renaissance too (perhaps that's coming on a bit strong). I've been teaching myself new programs and looking into new subjects little by little in an effort to become more well-rounded. It's something I probably do every few years anyway, but each time it feels really empowering. I started learning Illustrator and InDesign and have been looking into a lot of art history (but not just arty subjects, I've been reading a lot of science, economics and social articles and books too). One of these days I'm going to get around to enrolling in a COAS ceramics class.

What has been your greatest achievement?

Actually, I hope my greatest achievements are all ahead of me! But recently my work has been recognised by American Illustration 32 (juried Awards Annual) and that's a fairly big deal to me. Admittedly a large part of the excitement is probably attending the AI party in New York City in November, but I'm super appreciative and humbled to be included in a collection of artists whose work I know and really respect. I've also been getting more positive response from art directors after my recent mail out - most excitingly The New York Times, Harper Collins and That Game Company. Though they're different fields, I'd really love to work with each of those companies so hopefully I'll have the chance to work with them in future. As frustrating(!) as it often is, the 'getting there' part can be pretty exciting sometimes too.

Do you have any advice for recent Cardiff Met graduates?

Well, that's a toughie. I think learning to have some balance in all things is pretty important. Work/Life balance. Political balance. Balance between confidence and humility. Balance between being realistic and positive. It's all well and good to say, but it takes constant effort to achieve and maintain.


Are you in touch with any other Cardiff Metalumni?

Only about a handful of them really. This part of our lives is probably the most transient, but I work at Morgan Arcade Studios because it's nice being around other creatives (although, honestly, I'm just as happy to work at home which I do some days), so I'm one of the few who stayed in Cardiff. Most people have gone their separate ways which is par for the course in uni I think; some went to Bristol, some to London, most back home wherever that may be. It's sort of sad, but it takes a lot of effort to stay in touch with pe ople who aren't right in front of you every day.

*All illustrations property of Nicole Miles, if you woulld like further information or to contact Nicole please e-mail alumni@cardiffmet.ac.uk

Lauren Prince, 2013, Events Management, Liberty Living

I graduated in 2013, in Events Management and achieved a 2:1. Since graduating I have been working for large student accommodation organisation; Liberty Living, based in London at the Gherkin.

What made you chose Cardiff Met?

Having looked at various places to study Events Management, including; Bath, Bournemouth and Southampton, I felt that Cardiff would give me the best experience overall. Cardiff is the capital of Wales with plenty to do and see, which fitted in nicely with my course.

Which of your lecturers do you remember fondly?

Neil Marcus and Dewi Jaimangal-Jones, both lecturers on my course I found very helpful over the total 3 years of my study. They made work fun and less stressful!

What has been your career path since graduating?

Following my graduation in 2013, I have been employed by Liberty Living, where I initially lived in my first year of study.
During my three years at Cardiff Metropolitan, I worked on and off for the student accommodation and really enjoyed it. I helped with new arrivals and occasionally in the office, upon graduation I was offered a summer administration job, where I was put in charge of new intakes from The University of South Wales and Cardiff Metropolitan. I have now been taken on as a Sales and Marketing Intern, based in their head office in London; The Gherkin. I have had the opportunity to travel around the country across 17 cities, to visit the different student accommodations in our portfolio. It has been a really interesting year so far, and I hope to stay with the company for quite some time.

What has been your greatest achievement?

My greatest achievement to date has been completing my degree in Events Management and entering the world of work quickly. I have experienced so much in just over a year and I hope to keep going!

Do you have any advice for recent Cardiff Met graduates?

My advice to recent graduates would be to take any position or wo
rk which is given to you within your first year of graduating. Picking up as much experience as you can get in this year is crucial to your future development.

Are you in touch with any other Cardiff Met alumni?

Yes, I am in touch with loads of my friends from Cardiff Metropolitan. Some of which are still living in Cardiff, we try to meet up at least once a month if possible.

Peter Stafford, 2010, Sports Coaching, Projects Consultant European Athletics

Peter has been very busy since graduating from Cardiff Met (UWIC). He currently runs his own sports consultancy business based in Switzerland.

What made you chose Cardiff Met?

The world class sports facilities that were located at the Cyncoed Campus and the reputation of the sports degrees.

Which of your lecturers do you remember fondly?

Given the nature of the sports courses and being an athlete, the lectures given by Olympic Champion Lynn Davies were particularly memorable and those by Sean Power who became somewhat of a mentor for me.

What are some of your fondest memories?

The BUCS (formerly BUSA) trips, especially the year the indoor championships were held in NIAC and of course when we won them in 2005.

What has been your career path since graduating?

My first job was working for Welsh Athletics as Competition Manager. I continued to study alongside this and once I completed my MBA, I moved to Switzerland to take on a role as Head of Projects European Athletics. 

After six years and completing a sports law degree, I moved into broadcasting with the European Broadcasting Union working on sports rights before deciding to set up my own sports consultancy working with National Olympic Committees, International Sports Federations and Event Organisers.

Do you have any advice for recent Cardiff Met graduates?

Put yourself in a position to make as many contacts in your chosen field as possible and don't be afraid to take career risks and go out of your comfort zone to be successful.

Some of Peter's achievements whilst at Cardiff Met:

Captain of Men’s Athletics
Chairman of UWIC Athletics Club
Meeting Manager for UWIC Athletics Club Grand Prix Series
International Athletics representation for Ireland
Multiple BUSA medalist

Paul Symonds, 1999, Tourism Management, Pro-Marketing Online

Paul studied at Cardiff Met(UWIC) between 1996 and 1999, studying Tourism Management in the Colchester Avenue campus. In his first and third years he lived in halls on the Cyncoed Campus. We caught up with him earlier this year for a quick Q&A.

What made you choose Cardiff Met?

Having analysed the options for studying Tourism in the UK and with 5 decent options, I felt that Cardiff would offer the best overall experience, given that Cardiff is a capital city and has a lively atmosphere and plenty going on.

Were you in any clubs or societies at Cardiff Met?

A housemate started the 'UWIC Outdoor Sports Club' and I joined the group to give support to the idea. After a while though the club ceased given the difficulties in getting others members onboard.

Which of your lecturers do you remember?

Julia Fallon was one of the main lecturers on the Tourism Management course and I always found Julia to be one of the best lecturers. She seemed passioniate about the subject she taught and seemed to care about her job. Her classes were always interesting and I always enjoyed the coursework for Julia's classes. Ken Tresider also sticks in my mind. As Course Director and also sometimes one of the lecturers Ken was always cheerful and always very positive by nature.

What has been your career path since graduating?

Since graduating life has been interesting and involved living in several countries. After leaving UWIC I headed to Australia for 6 months on a working holiday, before then heading to Dublin, Ireland during the boom period for I.T. work.

I started working as a software tester for an I.T. company in Ireland and this included some time spent in the U.S. After meeting my Italian wife to be in a pub in Dublin and then after being laid off due to the I.T. bubble bursting, we headed off to teach in Seoul, South Korea for 2 years.

Teaching English 1-to1 to Business leaders in one of the top schools in Korea, this was a fascinating travel and cultural experience and one which enabled me to save up to build on my Tourism Degree at UWIC, by enabling me to save enough to then move to Newcastle to study at Sunderland University.

After completing a Masters in Computer Based Information Systems in Sunderland University, it was the impetus to combine the Tourism Degree and I.T. Masters to start my own business, developing a Travel website and providing Online Marketing services for travel companies.

I have now been doing Online Marketing for my own Ltd company for 5 years including in Barcelona and now from my present home in Cardiff. The friendships and familiarity with Cardiff brought me back to this city after the stints in Australia, Korea, Barcelona and Newcastle. I have now also started a PhD and run http://www.travelwayfinding.com/ in relation to the study area.

Do you have any advice for this year's graduates?

Believe in your ability and do not expect to get the big opportunities immediately. Start getting work experience as soon as possible no matter what the job and just keep working towards your goal. In time you will succeed and find the opportunities if you work hard and always believe anything is possible.

Have you ever attended a reunion?

I have found that reunuions tend always to be with high schools friends and Facebook has driven this for most of us. I would be open of course, to a reunion and hope that my fellow students have found their own successes.

Does your company have anything to offer either alumni or current students?

http://www.promarketingonline.com/ are able to offer Cardiff Met alumni based in the Cardiff area 15% Discount on any 1 Day Training Programs.