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An interview with Nick Richardson, your new Chair of Convocation

8 November 2022

We caught up with Zoology graduate and former Union Society President Nick Richardson to find out more about his ambitions for his term as the new Chair of Convocation.

Nick has been a keen advocate and supporter of Newcastle alumni since graduating. Following a year in office as Union Society President, Nick went on to found Newcastle University’s Alumni Association. He is also a benefactor and life-long champion of the University’s boat club. 

Hi Nick. Congratulations on being appointed our new Chair of Convocation! To introduce yourself to those in our alumni community who don’t know you, can you start by telling us a bit about how you came to study at Newcastle?

I was born and brought up in Henley on Thames in Oxfordshire. I attended Henley Grammar School and was introduced to rowing at school – an interest that continued at university and to this day.

I chose Newcastle University because of the reputation of the Zoology department, and the Dove Marine Labs at the coast. Arriving on campus, I was struck by how big and busy it was. The Students’ Union was a fabulous building and the centre of our social world at that time.

What are your favourite memories from your time as a student?

The people, the many friends and the opportunities, like working for The Courier as a photographer, running Freshers’ week, and finally being elected Union President and suddenly becoming “Managing Director” of a million-pound business!

We didn’t have cars or do much travel outside the city – so my love of Northumberland and its coastline came later. But as a student I fell in love with the Quayside and the high bridges that fly way above the buildings - so dramatic and photogenic.  I also spent a lot of time at the SIDE Gallery that opened during my time at Newcastle.

What did you do after leaving University?

I initially joined the retail chain Marks and Spencer, then transferred to a new computer business run by another Newcastle graduate.  I am proud of the many projects that we delivered and the many other graduates that we were able to help in their careers through employment and support.

Newcastle graduates have a real desire to provide help and support to each other, with employment, advice, coaching, mentoring, sponsoring and generally passing on their life experiences.

Who have been the strongest influences in your life?

The desire to make a positive difference influences everything I do. My ambition to develop an Alumni Association after I graduated was supported so kindly by senior university and industry figures. I hope I can repay their support in my new role as Chair of Convocation.  

Why did you want to stand for the role of Chair of Convocation? And what would you most like to achieve during your term?

Thirty years ago, I was one of a group of graduates who formed the Alumni Association – a network for all Newcastle graduates. Since then, the number of graduates has grown greatly to 250,000, so the role of Chair is less about me, and more about representing the best interests of a quarter of a million people.

I know that these are difficult times. Recent graduates have gone through the challenges of COVID and face the prospect of finding a career in an ever-more competitive world.

I also know that Newcastle graduates have a real desire to provide help and support to each other, with employment, advice, coaching, mentoring, sponsoring and generally passing on their life experiences.

I want to continue to build a vibrant global community, empowering and supporting alumni to reach their full potential. I would like the size and power of the alumni network to be a key driver in young people’s decision to apply to the University, in addition to the quality of the education and the fabulous city setting!

What advice would you like to give to our current students and recent graduates?

To current students – get involved in all aspects of University life! There are so many opportunities in addition to your formal studies. Also remember that you will be making friends for life.

And to our recent graduates – join one of our growing number of branches, and the many online or in person events. Keep in touch with each other.

Join us for our 2022 Day of Convocation

We’re excited to announce that our 2022 Meeting of Convocation will be taking place on our Newcastle Helix site on Saturday 26 November. Will you be there?

This is your opportunity to meet your global alumni community – there are now 250,000 of you! Enjoy a tour and lunch at the spectacular Newcastle Helix campus before hearing from the University’s leadership team on our future plans, where you can make your alumni voice heard.

There’ll be plenty of time for mingling and networking too, with a drinks reception at 3SIXTY to close the day - offering the best panoramic views of the city!