July 26, 2012

"Dinner & Digging"

Last Friday evening I was fortunate enough to attend the Annual Graduation Dinner. The ACS team had done a fantastic job of turning Firth Hall into an opulent venue and an even better job in preparing a five course meal, each served with a different wine (the latter of which I couldn't enjoy as the designate driver). Nevertheless, it was not the decadence of the venue, food and wine that interests, but rather the eclectic mix of people in attendance. The University was celebrating the 15 Honorary Graduates of 2012. They included an 80s pop star, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, and a number of eminent lawyers, engineers and scientists. And let's not forget the Vice-Admiral Second Sea Lord - The Chief Personnel Officer for the Navy (now there's an interesting HR job). So, here together in one room were a collection of the most able and talented people living and working in our community - all speaking warmly about the University, and its contribution towards their own personal development, career progression and significant societal accomplishments - an example of great talent management in practice. The following Monday morning was the antithesis to the grandeur of Friday night's Graduation Dinner. Swapping my dinner jacket and bow tie for scruffy jeans and t-shirt, I joined a few UEB colleagues and all the new sabbatical student union officers for a volunteering morning at Bents Green Special School. Interestingly, that sense of belonging to the institution and the talent and energy displayed was equally evident throughout this event - working with and learning from the union officers and the school volunteers was most rewarding.
I was also delighted to have been complemented by a discerning FPVC on my expert handling of the wheelbarrow (as not a grain of sand was dropped during the dozens of wheelbarrow journeys). By the afternoon, the talents of the volunteering group had resulted in a new outdoor classroom. The real fruits of our labour were of course the relationships formed within and between the UEB, the student union officers and the school volunteers. Although very different in size and scope from Friday evening, it was an activity and outcome as important to the University as the Graduation Dinner, and with almost as much talent on display.