In September 2016, the Chevening Officer Excellence Awards were launched in order to recognise best practice within the Chevening network. The focus for the pilot awards was alumni engagement and, after a highly competitive process, we were delighted to select three winning posts: Brazil, Nigeria, and Mexico. As part of the award, the Chevening officers from the winning countries, Caroline MacDonald (Brazil), Jibike Faborode (Nigeria) and Kimi Yoshimura (Mexico), were invited to London to participate in the 2016/2017 Orientation event, as well as in a range of activities which were held at the Chevening Secretariat and FCO offices.

Exchanging expertise

During their visit, the Chevening officers met with James Davis, Head of Alumni Relations at UCL, and Andy Harris, Senior Alumni Relations Manager at UCL’s Institute of Education. After a tour of the UCL campus, the Chevening officers were given a presentation on UCL’s alumni strategy and an opportunity to share best practice on engaging with alumni in-country.

Following this, the three award winners joined other Chevening officers from across the network for a welcome event at the FCO for ASEAN scholars. The event included discussions on current affairs in the region, a talk from MP Richard Graham, a tour of the building, and the chance for scholars and Chevening officers to network. A CAPF roundtable discussion with representatives from the FCO then followed, where attendees discussed ideas and best practice for submitting a successful bid. A small prize-giving session then took place for the winning Chevening officers.

Surprising scholars

Finally, Kimi, Jibike, and Caroline met the wider Chevening Secretariat team before the Orientation event on 22 October, which they also attended and surprised many of their scholars at the event.

Thank you to everyone who submitted applications to the inaugural Chevening Officer Excellence Awards. The award will expand next year to award nine posts for excellence in marketing, alumni, and partnerships. More information on 2017 Chevening Officer Excellence Awards will be available in due course. In the meantime, here are some top alumni engagement tips from this year’s winners.

Kimi: Have ‘Chevening Champions’ at post! Within each section of post, have someone who gets involved with Chevening events, helps the Chevening officer review proposals from Chevening Alumni, and alerts the Chevening officer of events where Chevening could get involved in some capacity. This gives vital support to the Chevening officer in terms of communicating to the wider post and getting other parts of post involved with Chevening.

Jibike: Tailor your offering differently for older generations of alumni. They will probably have less time to attend events, so instead invite them to speak on behalf of the programme. In Nigeria, for example, these alumni do presentations with post to prospective partners.

Caroline: Carry out a stakeholder mapping of all alumni to showcase to the rest of post, rather than simply giving colleagues a list of alumni. You can also share infographics—for example, how many alumni working in a certain sector are in a particular geographical location. 

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