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.
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.