Faculty and Speakers
Pim van Zanen
Pim is director of marketing and communication at Radboud University, Nijmegen in the Netherlands. His department is responsible for corporate communications, student recruitment, and alumni relations. Prior to this, he worked as a consultant at a full service advertising agency. Pim has previous experience in the financial sector where he was responsible for customer experience delivered by the customer contact centre.
Malcolm Roberts is head of student communications at the University of Sheffield. Malcolm came to the University in 2008 as an internal communications officer, working with colleagues across the institution to tell staff stories whilst planning communications activities and campaigns. In 2012, Malcolm swapped audiences and became the University's first student communications coordinator. Since he began this role, the student communications team has grown from just him into a department of eight people, including film, animation, graphic design, social media and web development specialists. Malcolm is responsible for overseeing all the team's activity in terms campaigns and day-to-day communications, as well as liaising with teams and departments from across the University and the city of Sheffield to ensure their communications to students are being supported. Malcolm is also the founder and chair of the national UK Student Communications Forum, which meets once a year to share best practice and discuss changes within the sector that might impact on student communications as a whole.
Passionate about understanding students and placing them at the heart of decision making, Jo is an experienced multi- methods researcher, conducting projects spanning customer and prospect behaviour, satisfaction, pricing, brand and portfolio evaluation.
Jo started her career in pharmaceutical marketing, before settling in higher education in 2004. She’s an active member of the HE market research forum, and speaks regularly on insight.
Chris heads up a development team consisting of a core of full time, full-stack developers and well as a large number of paid student developers. Work areas include voice and chat interfaces, gamification, agile development and mobile phone applications.
Bobby joined the Student Communications Team at the University of Sheffield in 2016 while studying towards a degree in journalism studies. After graduating in 2018, he joined the team permanently and became Student Communications Coordinator. In this role he has revolutionised student focused content via the team’s channels, placing particular focus on developing more video content for social media and increasing engagement and impact in this area.
Bobby has led the production of a number of video projects working with students to authentically capture their voice and tell their story. This work has included a video series based around LGBT+ History Month, a Mental Health Day interview on coping with grief at university, and the development of regular student social media takeovers.
David started his career at the University of Southampton where he was a Students' Union sabbatical officer, before moving over to the University to establish their Student Communications function. He now works at Middlesex University as their Student Communications and Engagement Manager. He is a strong proponent of the student voice and in 2012 he founded the Student Publication Association that supports student journalists across the UK and Ireland. He has also now returned to study, at UCL's Institute of Education on their Higher Education Management programme. You're welcome to contact David at D.Gilani@mdx.ac.uk.
Mhairi Gowans is a social media expert with six years of experience in digital communications, originally beginning in the museums sector. In 2017, Mhairi moved into higher education where she managed the social media for the University of Cambridge, using videos on student life as a way to engage applicants, students and alumni to great success. As of 2019, Mhairi has joined the advancement department at the London School of Economics where she intends to make alumni feel more connected with the School through the communication of current student activities.
Michael worked in higher education leadership for 12 years before establishing Brand & Reputation - a national and international marketing consultancy. As Executive Director at Teesside University, he led an award-winning external relations directorate covering marketing, student recruitment, communications, development and alumni relations. He was previously Director of Communications and Marketing at Durham University and has worked across private and public sectors in Europe and the US, is an adviser to the House of Lords, and a Global Trustee of CASE and a Trustee of CASE Europe.
Emma has worked in marketing and communications for over 25 years in a variety of roles and sectors – most of her experience is in financial and professional services, and more recently education, where she discovered the sector that really inspires her.
She has worked for small advertising agencies on accounts such as Walkers and Bulmers to leading a global marketing team for Zurich Financial Services. In 2009 she retrained as secondary school teacher and had two of the toughest years of her career. What this change highlighted was her passion for education, but as a marketing professional (and not in the classroom!).
Emma has led the marketing services team for the University of Warwick since 2014 and has seen her team grow and extend to cover student communication.
Justin is Chief Higher Education Consultant for Communications Management, a consultancy working with universities on a range of communications, engagement and reputation needs. Justin has supported projects at more than 100 universities globally over the last 20 years and was previously the in-house Communications and Media Executive for the University of Hertfordshire and, earlier in his career, an award-winning journalist. He also works as the UK and Europe Director for ExpertFile, a global channel for promoting university leaders and academics. As part of his work Justin has provided crisis communications counsel for several universities – including a major crisis review for Memorial University of Newfoundland. Justin is a Fellow of the CIPR and was a founder committee member of the CIPR’s Education & Skills Sectoral Group.
As UWE Bristol’s Student Communications Manager, Alyssa is the voice of the university and her campaigns and messaging help create the welcoming and supportive environment the university is known for.
To achieve her goals, she works across all areas and levels of the university to develop and create engaging content; curates messaging across multiple print and digital channels; and runs strategic multi-channel, student-facing campaigns throughout the year. Her team has four key communication priorities: transition, employability and enterprise, academic support and mental health and well-being.
Her background includes web development, digital marketing, digital communications and policy development. She has a degree in Political Science from West Virginia University.