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In conversation with Catherine Allen

Catherine Allen is now a successful independent producer and business developer, specialising in mobile and rich media experiences. Until recently she worked with the world-leading educational app developers Touch Press.

She was a Theatre Studies undergraduate between 2007 and 2010, graduating with a first class degree. However, during her time as a student at Warwick she did a lot more than that. Catherine was a founder member of the Arts Faculty E-Squad, a precursor of the current Student Champions project. Working with fellow E-Squad student Pesala Bandara, Catherine designed and built the Re-performing Performance online Shakespeare archive. The E-Squad proved to be a life-changing experience, and led to her setting up her own production companies at Warwick, and then in Birmingham and London.

Catherine with Stephen Fry Catherine with Bafta A selection of Touchpress apps Re-performing Performance

In June 2015 Robert O'Toole met with Catherine at the prestigious Hospital Club creative hub in Covent Garden. They talked about the E-Squad experience and its value to Catherine, how this started with basic training, then teaching-development projects facilitated by Robert. However, Catherine very quickly grew her capabilities and competencies to the point at which she was able to operate more independently in a network of students and academics. Working in this more proactive mode, Catherine developed the knowledge, skills, attitudes, resources and personal network that led to her success.

This discussion gives a valuable insight into how to become a successful student champion in a way that fits well with creative and entrepreneurial methods used in many industries.

Key messages include: use your role as a student champion to become well integrated into the life of the University; use creative and technical abilities to build your confidence (becoming "fearless"); treat the University as a platform out of which you assemble your own environment for success; become an integrated part of the university, but develop your own identity; use technologies to "amplify the magic" of the academic environment (what we call the Extended Classroom approach); you don't have to master every technology and technique - you just need to be good at finding experts who can help you: networking.