Gary tells us about his role as Alumni Engagement Coordinator 

Tell us about your role at the University.

I look after Alumni Relations' engagement with students and alumni-to-student engagement. I am also responsible for the development and organisation of UK-based alumni events (excluding Aberdeen and London) and for providing support to alumni volunteering and alumni networks.

How do you usually start your day?

My day normally starts around 6.30am when my two daughters wake up (they are 2 and 6 months).  From then on, it’s a bit frantic trying to get them fed and dressed (as well as myself!), lunch made and out the door.  I live in Oldmeldrum so the 30-40 minute commute gives me a chance to chill out and think about what the day has in store.  Once I’m in the office I check my e-mails and catch up with my colleagues on what’s coming up that day.

What brought you to the University of Aberdeen?

I spent more than a decade working in politics and decided that I wanted to do something different.  I saw this job advertised, thought that I had the same skill set that was being asked for and that I would enjoy it.  I love organising events and the chance to help students learn from alumni – and visa versa – was very appealing.  Also, visually, it’s a pretty awesome campus to work on.

What’s your favourite thing about your job?

How positive it is!  One of the first things I had to do after I started in December was help at the Celebration of Carols event in London.  The Chapel Choir sang, there were readings from notable alumni like Iain Glen from Game of Thrones and there were hundreds of alumni enjoying themselves.  It was such a positive event and a great start to the job!

What are your work priorities at the moment?

Developing a Student Engagement Plan.  Alumni can be such a great tool to help with a student’s experience at Aberdeen as well as in recruiting and retaining students so we’re keen to see how we can do more Alumni-Student engagement.  I’m also planning some alumni events in the Moray area as well as the Central Belt.

How do you like to relax outside work?

With two young daughters relaxation includes watching CBeebies and playing with toys – such a hard life, I know!!  However, I really enjoy Scottish country dancing and have been teaching it all over the world for the past few years.  I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to teach in Denmark, Sweden, Holland, Germany and Canada as well as a few different places in Scotland.  It’s great for physical and mental exercise, has a good social element to it and fantastic music.