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Alumni of the Year Award

The votes are in - introducing your 2020 Alumnus of the Year:

Dev Aditya

Dev Aditya

Each year, we celebrate our talented and inspiring alumni community with our Alumni of the Year Award, showcasing their outstanding professional achievements, their commitment to their community and ongoing contribution to Brunel through volunteering and advocacy. 

You voted in your hundreds and we are pleased to announce your 2020 Alumni of the Year as Dev Aditya! Dev is a great inspiration to our Brunel community, students and alumni and a credit to the University for his dedication to social innovation, community work and social change.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to make a nomination and cast a vote - and a special congratulations and thank you to our wonderful 2020 nominees and finalists - we have been blown away by your many achievements and successes.

Read more about your 2020 winner:

2020: Dev Aditya

LLB Law - class of 2017

  • Managing Director, Otermans Institute
  • Former Vice President of the Union of Brunel Students (2017-18)
  • Awards: Pride of Bengal Award 2019 - House of Lords; Global Leaders Award 2020 - Kolkata, India; National Campaign of the Year 2017 - NUS

Dev Aditya

Nomination:
After completing his studies, Dev was elected as the Vice President (VP) of the Union during which he served in the University Council and Senate. As VP he accomplished and brought innovative ideas to Brunel. Firstly, he led the organisation of Brunel’s first South Asian Culture Week to celebrate cultural diversity of the large number of South Asian students at Brunel. For this, he was recognised and won a national NUS award on inclusivity. Secondly, he brought TEDx to Brunel for the first time. This was a major event in which 6 Brunel staff and students were able to speak on a global platform. The event was very successful, received a lot of positive feedback and directly helped the careers of the speakers. However, potentially his biggest success was co-leading the Brunel Bikes campaign. Here, the team raised over £80,000 in less than 5 weeks by liaising with students, staff, alumni, local partners, businesses and other relevant stakeholders. Due to this achievement, the team secured an additional £100,000 deal with Santander to create and implement the current Brunel Bike scheme that links Uxbridge, Brunel University London and Hillingdon Hospital. In the first few weeks after the launch, it was named as the most used scheme in the country. It has contributed extensively to Brunel and the local community as it provides cheap travel for students, it is environmentally friendly, and it has strengthened Brunel’s relationship with the local community. In recognition for his work, the University has even named a cycle after him.

Dev has also supported and led projects supporting other London based communities. For instance, he helped bring art exhibitions to support fundraising for Syrian refugees to Uxbridge, helped organise and execute community events in Bromley which was attended by over 1500 people and led and supported national campaigns for international students and young workers. He also worked and supported parliamentary events on similar issues.

Following his time at Brunel, Dev worked in legal consulting in London while continuing to work on several community driven activities across various parts of London. This work led to him winning the Pride of Bengal award at the House of Lords in 2019, where he became its youngest recipient; past winners have included Nobel laureates such as Amarthya Sen.

Following his passion for social innovation and community work, Dev has moved on from legal consulting to his own very interesting enterprise. About a year ago, Dev started a social education enterprise called ‘Otermans Institute’ which aims to upskill students of India, Nepal and Bangladesh with the use of tailored soft skills and transferable skills training. At present, he has already trained a few hundred teachers and thousands of students, mainly in India. Recently, Dev and his colleagues signed an MOU with the government of the state of Uttarakhand to train and upskill over 20,000 underprivileged students across that state. Therefore, Dev is currently scaling the operations and lobbying other state governments to implement his soft skills curriculum and teaching programme. His work throughout India was recognised by the Governor in January 2020 and he received the Global Leaders Award for Innovation in Education. For his projects, he always aims to link it back to Brunel and has taken several interns and teammates from the University. He also continues to actively advise and support students. He has always stated the impact of his Brunel days in influencing his work.

Already in a short time span and at a young age, Dev has touched and impacted on the lives of thousands of people in different parts of London and across South Asia. His dedication to the young people in these communities and passion for social change are obvious. Furthermore, his work has involved and positively developed several existing and former Brunel students. I am excited to see his work grow and the impact he has on so many. I admire his vision and strategy, dedication to his work, his speed of achievements and impact on the community for both his current projects and during his time at Brunel.

 

Through the years...

Take a look at our previous award winners...

2019: Professor Yogesh Dwivedi

MSc Information Systems - class of 2002

PhD Information Systems & Computing Research - class of 2006

Job title:

  • Personal Chair and Professor of Digital Marketing and Innovation, Swansea University, UK
  • Co-Director of Research, School of Management, Swansea University, UK
  • Director of Emerging Markets Research Centre (EMaRC), Swansea University, UK
  • University Dean of Academic Leadership (REF Research Environment and Interdisciplinary Research), Swansea University, UK

Yogesh DwivediWritten by Dr Anabel Gutirrrez - Professor Dwivedi completed his PhD studies within an outstanding three year period with 14 publications accepted by the time of his viva examination and has gone on to contribute to the development of future generations at different levels. He started his teaching journey 12 years ago, delivering a range of modules from Information Systems to Social Media Marketing in both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Student feedback has always been outstanding and his supervisory style has been exceptional, contributing to the development of 20 doctoral students. The quality of his supervision was recognised in 2017 as a finalist of the annual Times Higher Education Awards “2017 Outstanding Research Supervisor of the Year”. Additionally, he has been invited to more than 65 PhD examinations as an internal or external examiner. His constructive and robust style for examination has transcended to different universities where he has mentored and coached new staff and colleagues, making a difference not only to students but to anyone in academia who is looking to improve their research skills. 

His contribution to the sector has comprised of more than 390 publications in refereed journals, conferences and books in addition to the development of extensive collaborations and joint international projects with social impact with other universities and professional bodies. 

As a Brunel alumna myself, I met Professor Dwivedi when I started my PhD at Brunel University London back in 2004. Since then, I have great admiration and the honour of collaborating in different capacities, each time it has being always an excellent experience providing the most incredible opportunities for further collaborations. These are just a few examples that solidify my decision for his nomination. Recognising alumni who contributed to industry, politics, business, sport, and many other areas is as important as to recognise those excellent academics who are part of their formation. Professor Dwivedi professional achievements, extensive knowledge in his field, the human approach for decision-making and natural solidarity to the academic community and society makes him a worthy candidate for the Brunel Alumni of the Year Award.

Written by Dr Dhaval Thakker - Yogesh has made a great impact in academia and the research on digital marketing since his PhD at Brunel. In my opinion, Yogesh’s record is one of the best students to come out from Brunel, in particular, working in academia. He has 300+ referred papers, very high citations 10k+, and h-index = 56. He has successfully supervised 15+ PhD students, was nominated by the Times Higher for outstanding supervisor of the year for 2017, and has been an internal and external examiner for more than 65 doctoral thesis.

Yogesh has also carried out the editorship of prestigious journals and conferences in the field, and held a number of other prestigious engagements. He has shown outstanding leadership in research and admin roles and is certainly a role model for someone working in academia (and also an alumnus of Brunel) like me, and I strongly believe that he is a role model for many graduates looking to make academia and research leadership their career.

Written by Dr Inderjeet Singh - Professor Dwivedi is a pioneer in the area of e commerce/management and has published 221 refereed journal articles and 141 conference papers in the field. His research interests are in the area of Information Systems (IS) including the adoption and diffusion of emerging ICTs (e.g. broadband, RFID, e-commerce, e-government, m-commerce, m-payments, m-government); an interest in analysis of usage trends of IS theories and research approaches; and understanding the evolution of IS, e-government and e-commerce research. His work on these topics has been published in a range of leading academic journals including: Communications of the ACM, European Journal of Information Systems, International Journal of Production Research, and Journal of the Operational Research Society.

He has presented his research at key international conferences in Asia, Australasia, Europe and North America. He has co-edited more than ten books on technology adoption, e-government and IS theory and had them published by international publishers such as Springer, Routledge, and Emerald. He acted as co-editor of fourteen special issues; organised tracks, mini-tracks and panels in leading conferences; and served as programme co-chair of IFIP WG 8.6 Conference at the prestigious IIM Bangalore, India in 2013. He is secretary of IFIP 8.6 Working Group; a member of the AIM Scholar Pool; life member of IFIP 8 WG 8.5, 8.6; and an annual member of the Association of Information Systems.

Written by Dr Wafi Al-Karaghouli - I know Prof Dwivedi in an academic capacity, as we share many areas of interest, including chairing tracks at conferences such as EMCIS. Also, I have previously published with him a paper (“Dwivedi, Y., Venkitachalam, K., Sharif, A., Al-Karaghouli, W. and Weerakkody, V. 2011) on Research Trends in Knowledge Management: Analysing the Past and Predicting the Future. Special Issue, Journal of Information Systems Management, Vol.28: pp.43–56. (ABS 2*).

He is currently University Dean of Academic Leadership (REF Research Environment and Interdisciplinary Research) at Swansea University and has held many directorships roles at Swansea University. Yogesh finished his PhD studies in 2005 here at Brunel, his thesis entitled “Investigating consumer adoption, usage and impact of broadband: UK households”, a topic which is still current.

He has published widely in top ranking journals of the ABS ranking and is one of the top cited authors in e-Government and social media. He is known in both the Brunel Business School and Computer Science Department for his continuous collaboration with Brunel staff in research, publications & grants.

Written by Dr Yousra Asaad - Professor Dwivedi is a well-respected and very well established academic. He has long standing experience in teaching, research and management, and has been promoted to a Professor in a relatively short period of time. He is extremely well published in the field of digital marketing in prestigious journals and has been a director of research for a number of year’s ay Swansea University Business School, where he has revamped the research culture in the school to a more productive and enriching one. He has a great personality and is very helpful to colleagues and students - I think he is a fantastic candidate for this award.

2018: Solveiga Pakstaite

BA Industrial Design & Technology - 2014

Since graduating from Brunel, Solveiga is the Founder and Director of Mimica, a company developing a biologically accurate smart packaging solution that reduces food waste and improves food safety. She has gone on to make huge waves in the design world. Her product - Mimica Touch - began life as a project at Brunel. The concept was originally devised as part of her final-year project at in order to help the visually impaired, who cannot read dates on traditional food labels. However, she soon discovered that her design could revolutionise food labelling for all and make a huge impact in the food packaging industry. The product is designed to provide a more accurate method of determining whether food is stillSolveiga Pakstaite HILLS edible. The food label contains gelatine which breaks down at the same rate as the food inside the package. Once the food is no longer safe to eat, the user will be able to feel bumps on the label and will know to dispose of it.

Solveiga is also the Founder and Director of her own freelance design studio - Design By Sol Ltd. - which undertakes projects of a wide scope, as well as developing in-house projects in the areas of industrial & product design, packaging design, graphic design & information architecture and user experience design. In addition, Solveiga is also a Visiting Lecturer for UCL, a Board Member of Fast Forward 2030 and a Fellow at Unreasonable - an organisation, investment fund and private global network dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs.

Part of Solveiga’s incredible journey has included working with the Central Research Laboratory, a thriving facility in Hayes, West London, supported by Brunel to assist design start-ups. She is an enthusiastic supporter of Brunel, always keen to give back and inspire the next generation of designers and entrepreneurs. Solveiga has provided videos and profiles, and regularly joins us for events on campus, such as our Global Entrepreneur Week panel, discussing her unique perspective on what it means to be an entrepreneur and sharing tips and guidance for those looking to start / grow their own business. Her passion for supporting Brunel students is driven by the desire to encourage more students to take their own ideas seriously and see that they can really change the world; something she sees as the whole point of design.

Solveiga has achieved numerous accolades, along with a great deal of industry recognition, including being named as MIT Inventor of the Year 2017, Leader of Tomorrow 2016, Mayor of London Low Carbon Entrepreneur 2015, Top New Talent 2015 and Start-up of the Year 2014. Her awards to date have included the Hawley Award 2016, Shell Staff Inspiration Award 2016, Platypus Award for Innovations in Taste 2015, Smart Future Award 2015 and the James Dyson Award UK to name a few. Solveiga was also named as one of the ‘1000 Most Influential Londoners 2014’ and has been a key speaker at TEDxHult London.

We are delighted that Solveiga's inspirational design and entrepreneurial success have been formally recognised and rewarded. 

2017: John Dangerfield

Former student President, John, manages the largest service contracts for Babcock International, delivering critical services to Heathrow Airport. He also leads on the recruitment and assessment of graduates into his business.  John DangerfieldHis career began with the successful completion of the prestigious Siemens S5 graduate scheme and then he worked as a Service Recovery Manager for British Airways and as a Contracts Manager for the NHS, before moving on to Babcock. John has been a mentor in Brunel’s Women in Engineering programme since its inception. He regularly offers his time for widening participation activities at Brunel and beyond sharing his invaluable knowledge and experiences with his mentees and other students. He has also volunteered his time for the university on various other occasions, giving talks and supporting student recruitment activities. After competing for Brunel Racing in the Institute of Mechanical Engineers’ (IMechE)Formula Student competition, John returned as a judge and has judged 1,200+ teams over 13 years at both UK and USA events. He was then promoted to Head Cost Judge leading a team of 50+ judges. John gives countless hours to the development and growth of the next generation of engineers. John cherished his time at Brunel and all it gave him. He acts without hesitation to give back to the university and is a model Brunel graduate, performing and behaving exceptionally both professionally and personally. Congratulations to John on wining this award. We are delighted that your contributions to Brunel have been formally recognised and rewarded. 

2016: Tim Backshall

Tim studied Industrial Design at Brunel at the courses’ inception (1989), and was part of the first year to graduate from the programme. He went on to have a successful career in design before starting his own business, Integrity, in 1997. The company has two main objectives: outstanding client service and a Tim Backshalldynamic workplace environment. The first aim drives them to provide a complete service to clients to achieve consistency across all aspects of their brand, ensuring that the values of the client organisation are properly represented in all aspects of their business. The second objective is to create a great place to work, where people are valued for their strengths, and where the benefits of teamwork create a strong culture around helping others to do their very best for clients. Integrity provides brand services to well-known companies, including Waitrose, Volkswagen, Virgin and CenterParcs, and also in the public sector for police forces, universities and the NHS.

Tim credits the skills and thinking that Brunel instils in its designers which helped him shape both the company and its unique service offerings, focusing on brand implementation - bringing brand vision to life. This also led Tim to look to Brunel in 2003 when he decided to take on his first placement student, and marked the beginning of a long and fruitful employment relationship with Brunel.

In the years since, Tim and Integrity have employed many placement students, as well as taking on a growing number of graduates. Currently, Integrity has 13 Brunel alumni amongst their staff of 19 people. During their involvement with Brunel, Tim has employed 14 placement students, six of whom returned to Integrity for permanent employment after graduation, and 18 Brunel alumni as graduate employees. This translates into 88 years-worth of employment, with total salaries paid to Brunel graduates and undergraduates of over £2 million! At Integrity, Tim has created an environment that encourages and nurtures development in young graduates. Four out of the five members of the company’s current senior team originally joined as new graduates. Three of them are Brunel graduates and two undertook placements at the company during their time as students.

We are delighted to hear of Tim’s success and cherish his ongoing relationship with Brunel. We are very proud to present the award to him this year.

2015: Greg Duggan and Damien Kennedy

We received more nominations than ever before for the 2015 Alumnus of the Year. We saw an impressive range of alumni achievements and many examples of alumni continuing to support Brunel students through various types of volunteering. From the shortlist, you voted for your favourites, and after a close contest, we are2015 Alumni Of The Year pleased to announce that this year’s joint winners are Greg Duggan (Sport Sciences 2008) and Damien Kennedy (Sport Sciences 2008).

Greg and Damien met at Brunel where they studied Sport Sciences together. After graduation, Greg went on to teach at The Charter School in Southwark, while Damien joined Barking Abbey Basketball Academy as Head Coach.

Then in 2012, thanks to their shared interest in good nutrition, they had an idea for a great tasting but healthy ice cream. They founded WheyHey - the world’s first high-protein ice cream, which is low in fat and uses natural sweetener xylitol, which has no insulin response and is recommended by dentists.

The response to their product was incredible. When their first large order of 1,000 pots came in from Holland & Barrett, the pair struggled to deliver such a substantial volume. The batch sold out in just three days and the customers wanted more. Wheyhey was a huge hit but they had to work tirelessly and pool all their resources to try and meet the demand. Eventually they managed to scale up their production and grow the business.

The company, which is now forecast to turn over £2.5m this year and employs nine full-time staff, was able to grow thanks, in part, to social media. But, in recognition of their innovation and pioneering approach, they also won the Virgin Media Pioneer Award. This programme gives exciting new companies a range of resources and opportunities to help develop their businesses.

The ice cream has a growing number of celebrity fans including supermodel David Gandy and One Direction’s Harry Styles. Greg and Damien have also recently developed Coco Pro; a new protein-rich coconut water that is designed to provide the ultimate recovery drink.

Despite the incredible success of their business, Greg and Damien recently found time to return to Brunel to speak to students in the Entrepreneur’s Society to share their experiences and advice.

We are delighted to hear of their success and very proud to present the award to Greg and Damien this year.

2014: Dr. Hannah Critchlow

Hannah Critchlow graduated from Brunel in 2003 with a BSc in Cell and Molecular Biology, with First Class Honours.

During her studies here, Hannah was an exemplary student and was awarded three university prizes for ‘Best Biologist’.

Hannah went on to complete a PhD in Neuropsychiatry at the University of Cambridge, where she was also awarded a Magdalene College, Cambridge University Hannah CritchlowFellowship.

Inspired through her work as a nursing assistant at St Andrews Psychiatric Hospital, she went on to work as Strategic Manager for Cambridge Neuroscience. On secondment she helped steer and coordinate the re-launch of the British Neuroscience Association between 2010 and 2011. She credits her eye-opening experiences working on the ward with leading her to pursue a career in neuroscience and her desire to educate the public.

In 2013 she was named as one of Cambridge University's "inspirational and successful women in science".

Hannah now works as a presenter on the weekly BBC radio programme The Naked Scientists. Hannah along with her fellow presenters are "a media-savvy" group of physicians and researchers from the University of Cambridge who promote science to the general public in a fun and accessible manner,stripping it down to its bare essentials.The programme is aimed at those aged 14 and upwards and Hannah has explored topics as wide-ranging as Smallpox, sleep deprivation, Alzheimer's and morality.

Earlier this year in recognition of her work, she was named as one of the UK's 100 leading scientists by the Science Council. She was featured in the 'Communicator Scientist' category for her "energy and enthusiasm for communicating complex science issues in an accessible way".

Hannah continues to share her love of science through a busy public speaking schedule which has included appearances at schools, literary festivals and science festivals among others. Her ability to engage audiences is exceptional.

Hannah has just started working with Headcase, a new mental health awareness project, empowering people through open discussion and knowledge about the brain.

2013: Jordan Chitty

Jordan (BSc Industrial Design, 2007) studied Industrial Design at Brunel. During his placement year he worked for leading design consultancy iDC before he returned to Brunel for his final year to lead the team that coordinated the Made in Brunel show. By 2007 he had graduated with a first class honours degree and started his own business, Naked Creativity.

Naked Creativity is a central London design consultancy with a five-strong team ofJordan Chitty creative and technicalJordan Chitty individuals all passionate about web, graphic and branding design. Over the last six years, the company has gone from strength to strength with clients including Virgin Wines, London South Bank University and Olympic Delivery Authority.

Jordan has maintained strong links with Brunel. Since the launch of Naked Creativity, he has taken on students from Brunel for year-long work placements, providing invaluable practical experience of working within the industry. This is a crucial part of the student experience and in offering these placements Jordan has helped launch the careers of a number of his fellow alumni. He has also gone on to employ two Brunel graduates on a permanent basis. Last year he helped develop the Made in Brunel website.

Jordan is a great role-model for Brunel students. Not only has he made a great success of his own business, but he has also shown outstanding commitment to the university both during and after his studies. He continues to make a genuine and significant difference to the lives of our students.

2012: Ross Ramgobin

Ross (BA English with Drama, 2007) took leading roles in many of the Arts Centre’s musical productions and continued his Ross Ramgobin_Alumoftheyear v1vocal studies and involvement in university concerts following graduation.

In 2009, he was accepted on to the Royal Academy of Music’s MA in Vocal Studies and began performing with the prestigious RAM Song Circle in 2011.

He is now a member of the RAM’s prestigious Royal Academy Opera Course. His recent operatic roles include Claudio in Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict, Papageno in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and the title role in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. He has also performed at Carnegie Hall in New York and the International Handel Festival in Goettingen, Germany.

The award recognised Ross’s exceptional achievements, his on-going support to the Brunel community, and for being a fantastic role-model for current Brunel students.

2011: Nathaniel Peat

Nathaniel (BEng Mechanical Engineering, 2001) is an entrepreneur highly committed to helping people realise their dreams. One of his most compelling traits is his dedication to helping young people rise above crime and make a positive difference in their own lives as well as in the lives of others in their community. 

In 2006, he founded the company The Safety Box to help youths tackle the growing problems of anti-social behaviour, bullying, low self-esteem, crime and violence in society. In 2007 he was the first double award winner of the Enterprising Young Brits competition. 2008 saw him feature on the BBC’s The Last Millionaire TV series. By 2009, he was a speaker at Jamaica’s first Youth Diaspora Conference. Then come 2010 he represented Great Britain as a youth delegate for the G20 Toronto Young Entrepreneur’s Summit and in 2011 he featured in the JP Morgan Black Power List.

During all this time, Nathaniel has remained connected with and supportive of Brunel University, inspiring others to follow in his footsteps. He is a tremendous role-model for Brunel students and frequently speaks at events and engages with Brunel students to inspire them.

2010: Peter Ward

Peter (Economics and Business Finance, 2001) is an entrepreneur and founder of the travel website Where Are You Now, Peter and VC edited and PSaka WAYN.com. He was awarded for his business success and his huge commitment to helping others - particularly students at Brunel - in achieving their goals.

As a Brunel student Peter was already an entrepreneur, having experimented with setting up companies before he graduated. WAYN is now one of the world’s largest travel and lifestyle social networking community, with a presence in 220 countries. Membership has grown from 45,000 users in March 2005 to over 21.8 million today.

Since graduating Peter has been extremely supportive of Brunel and its students. He regularly comes to the University to assist with judging projects and to give inspirational talks to our current students. Peter has also been a strong supporter of the Brunel Entrepreneurs’ Society advising many aspiring entrepreneurs. .

2009: Heather Fell

In 2009, Brunel made its inaugural award to Heather Fell (BSc Physiotherapy, 2004), one of Britain’s leading Modern Pentathletes in recognition of her outstanding sporting achievements, particularly her silvHeather Feller medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

Heather is one of Britain’s most successful pentathletes, achieving notable success, including taking the 2003 World Junior Championship, whilst studying for her BSc in Physiotherapy at Brunel.

Coming through career-threatening injuries in 2006, Heather showed not only determination, but also a serious aptitude for multi-tasking as she was training for five events while holding down three jobs in order to meet the costs of being an international athlete.

This dedication clearly paid off as Heather won medals in the World Cup, the European and World Championships, qualified for the Olympics which culminated in a fantastic Silver medal at the Beijing Games, taking her to the top of the World rankings.

Throughout all this, Heather has remained tremendously supportive of Brunel and is a great ambassador for the University. .