My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends and Fellows, it is my great pleasure to welcome you all to our Annual Dinner. The Sainsbury Management Fellowship scheme was founded 29 years ago by Lord Sainsbury to demonstrate the value of a combined business and engineering education in improving the performance of the UK economy. It does this first, by selecting the brightest young engineers, and providing them with scholarships to the top 14 MBA schools in the world, and then by providing an alumni support and development network, as well as crucially, a programme of outbound communications, to create a whole, that, we hope, is greater than the sum of its parts.
The SMF is now a group of 330 Fellows, with another 10 expected in 2016 who have received scholarships. We believe our track record demonstrates the value of this combined business training and engineering education: Over 40% of our SMFs currently hold executive board roles, and 33% have non-executive roles. A total of 170 Fellows are directors of FTSE companies and 20 are directors of FTSE 100 companies.
Greater Engagement with SMFs
But the reach of our SMFs extends a long way beyond engineering. Amongst our group are leaders in the fields of technology entrepreneurship, corporate management, finance and venture capital, human resources and non-profit. However, at the heart of our success are the engineering skills which give us the framework upon which to build and develop our business capabilities and businesses. In concept and execution, the scheme highlights the increasingly important role that technology plays in everyone’s lives, whether with the items and infrastructure that we use every day or the systems by which we organise ourselves.
All SMFs should have received a copy of the Annual Report in the post last weekend and copies are available for guests at reception. The report was full of good news and the primary driver of this is –that in the last two years, we have seen a significant increase in engagement with and amongst our Fellows. This has meant that we have been able to undertake more events – whether cooperating with the Royal Academy of Engineering on their activities to support young engineers, with the Nottingham University Business School business plan initiative or with topical roundtables and social media. We have also broadened the focus of events to engage with SMFs in finance and not-for -profit fields, because engineering skills are broadly applicable across many fields.
Fundraising discussions and regular newsletter updates have reconnected us with many SMFs that are currently overseas and who have not been in regular contact. Tonight we welcome two SMFs from North America – Evaristus Mainsah from New York and Chris Gifford from Toronto. Karim El-Hamel has joined us from Turkey. In total we have 75 Fellows with us tonight, the largest number we have ever welcomed to the dinner, and I think that is an important sign.
This has been in no small part driven by the significant increase in email newsletters and social media blogs through Linkedin and yes, even Twitter, which has also increased the amount of incoming interest to the scholarship and our messages. I would like to thank Althea and Cathy for their work in this area.
Without the network and communication, our ability to drive home the message about the benefits of business education is limited to just our own CVs and voices. With the alumni network and with the aid of partners, such as the Royal Academy of Engineering, this is massively magnified and we are able to get the message out far beyond the reach that our limited resources would otherwise allow. We hope to amplify further our communications this year, by both strengthening alliances with our existing partners and forging new ones. We are planning to hold an Image of Engineering roundtable this year on this topic not because we want to moan but we want to drive home the need for the industry itself to step up and take responsibility to promote the full breadth of engineering and the value that it brings to the community we live in – locally and globally. We would welcome anyone here tonight who shares our interest in improving the image of engineering, to let me know.
On fundraising, the good news continues. I am very pleased to report that we have made excellent progress in our fundraising: we have broken through the £2 million barrier in cash and pledges including gift aid and the most generous matching of funds from Lord Sainsbury. I hope you will agree with me that this spectacular success is a just cause for celebration! And a bit of blowing for own trumpets. I would like to thank all of the SMFs who have contributed to reaching this impressive total. Thank you also to the efforts of our fundraising team, led by Chairman Simon Bonini and Vice Chairman Mike Gansser-Potts.
While celebrating, however, there is some way to go to reach our first £5 million pound goal. The fundraising team has spoken to about one-third of SMFs, mostly those of you who had expressed an interest. Now the fundraising team will be focusing on getting in contact with the remaining two-thirds. That’s the target for this year, but what about donations from outside the alumni?
SMF Nick Laird, part of the fundraising team, has been working on a plan to kick-start corporate fundraising and he has done an excellent job. If you personally or your company might be interested in learning more about how to support SMF, please talk to our fundraising team tonight.
The Hard Hat Index
Several years ago SMF invested in the Hard Hat Index, a slightly tongue-in-cheek idea, but it focuses on a symptom of a wider problem and is designed to highlight how the engineering community is significantly misrepresenting itself in terms of image and emotional value. The image of engineering has never been so critical. Generation Y and Z are far more image and brand conscious than any beforehand and they are interested in the image of their future careers. The image of engineering, its emotional value, and pertinence to their quality of life and of their peers is, therefore, vital to its ability to attract, inspire, recruit and, crucially, retain bright young people.
We, therefore, hoped the Hard Hat Index would spark a dialogue within the industry about its own responsibility instead of calling on others to solve the problem. We have been pleased to see this year, an increasing number of key influencers talking about the importance of changing how the industry communicates. We were encouraged on hearing Dame Ann Dowling, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, speaking out against the ubiquitous hard hats on BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour – she mentioned that when one undertakes a Google search of the word “engineer”, what comes back is the image of a yellow hard hat.
As for this year’s Hard Hat Index figures, the number of hard hats portrayed in advertising by companies and institutions has dropped by a mere 10% and, the index in editorials has remained constant, so there remains much work to do.
In closing, I would like to ask all our Fellows to consider how they can get involved in what we do. We’ve talked about the fundraising campaign this evening and there remain many opportunities to support this activity. Also, we would welcome getting others involved in outbound communications and event planning. You can also participate in programmes, such as our mentoring scheme to young engineers (we are constantly being asked to provide mentors to some truly amazing candidates) in support of the Royal Academy’s ELA scheme, or by writing a blog for our website.
It is an exciting time in the history of the Sainsbury Management Fellows as we approach our 30th anniversary in 2017 and if you would like to be more involved in what we are planning, please do contact me. We would also be delighted to receive offers of collaboration from any of our guests this evening.
I would also like to say a word of thanks to all of the people who made this year’s achievements happen – Our Board of Trustees: Adam Bazire, Simon Bonini, recently elected to the Board, Paul Dolan, David Falzani, Henning von Spreckelsen, Nigel Thomas and David Weston.
I would also like to express our appreciation to Fellows who have supported ELA and other events: Mike Astell, Bola Bamidele, William Burton, Sam Cockerill, Paul Dolan, David Falzani, Nick Laird, Rob Rasbach, Hersh Shah, Farid Singh and Charlie Sudborough. Thank you also to all the Fellows who have participated in other events, or interview panels, or who have written articles or spoken to the media on our behalf.
Many thanks also to the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and our friends from the Royal Academy of Engineering, and other institutions for their continued support and encouragement. Finally, I would like to thank our Patron, Lord Sainsbury, without whose vision and ongoing support, none of this would have been possible.
I am now delighted to introduce Lord Sainsbury, who has graciously agreed to say a few words before dinner is served.