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Alumni in Focus

Ed Pollock

Innovation Manager, RGU Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group

Ed Pollock

Ed Pollock joined RGU as a student of Events Management. Fast forward nine years and several roles with the university, he’s now Innovation Manager for the RGU Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group.

Can you tell us a bit about your career journey since graduating from RGU?

During my time at RGU, I had the opportunity to take time out of my studies to be elected as President of RGU Students’ Union which gave me the unique opportunity to see how a university runs and lead on projects to improve the student experience. After I finished my role and returned to finish my final year of my BA (Hons) in Event Management, I had the opportunity to continue my career through roles at the university. These included being an Event Project Assistant developing a revised institutional welcome campaign, as an Employability Project Assistant creating the What’s Next Conference and designing the university Employability framework and Project Assistant to the Principal coordinating an internal review. After graduating, I was selected for a role as Startup Coordinator in the new Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group, launching RGU’s first accelerator and supporting student entrepreneurs; and becoming a lecturer in Event Management to support teaching and bringing in my practical experiences to the course – as you can see – I’ve worn all the hats and bleed purple! Aside from my roles within RGU, I have also worked with the Quality Assurance Agency as a university reviewer. I may have graduated, but I can’t seem to step away from the world of universities.

How well do you feel that your course prepared you for embarking on your career path?

Part of the Event Management course is the need to get a set amount of work experience hours to complete your portfolio, it was this part of the course which encouraged me to get involved with student activities which gave me the inspiration and skills for my current career. These practical opportunities through the course from an internship with an event agency, to working at the Commonwealth Games to setting up my own events have been critical in my career. The skills and confidence I gained from these experiences and the course have helped me in all the roles I have undertaken.

What has been your biggest achievement since graduating?

I’d probably say the organisation and hosting of our Founders Showcase and Startup Sunday Live events as part of managing the Startup Accelerator. These events bring together my passion of entrepreneurship and event management and were a high profile and complex production to organise one year physically in a hotel ballroom for hundreds of guests and the next year virtually, hosted from my living room with an audience of thousands. Seeing such a large project come together and run successfully is such a great feeling and I am very proud to have led on these projects.

Can you tell us about the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group and your current role as Innovation Manager?

RGU has always had a strong reputation for employability, but the university wanted to take that to the next level. In 2018, the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group was set up to support students, staff and alumni to be more innovative and build entrepreneurial skills. My role in the team involves managing our accelerator programme, curating skills events and masterclasses, advising startups, teaching on courses and leading on communications for the team. Since we started, we’ve been able to help hundreds of entrepreneurs, set up over 50 new companies and welcomed thousands to our events.

You are evidently quite a driven person who places value on continual learning. What would you say are your main motivations to keep learning and improving?

I was one of those students who just kept asking questions and enjoyed learning a bit too much. I think if you find a subject you are truly passionate about, you should always want to keep learning more. I think continual learning is essential as the world is changing so fast and we always need to keep ourselves up to date with examples, insight and best practice, but also because learning challenges us and pushes us to be better. If we knew everything and thought we were perfect at our jobs, we would never strive to do better, and things could get boring quickly. Continued learning is a good way to keep things fresh, explore new perspectives and expand your mindset.

You started your own water aid charity at 16. What was the driving force behind that and what was the biggest learning you took from it?

Part of the reason I set up my own charity was frustration around the cause – that so many people still didn’t have access to clean water, when I was lucky to never have to even think about that. It also started from planning an event to raise awareness which spiralled into a school-wide annual carnival for hundreds of people. From hosting that event, I saw there was a way we could try and do more and there was a need for structure around that. I learnt so much, but I think the main learning was the importance of taking initiative and not being afraid to make something happen. I was about 14 when I walked into the school Principal’s office and presented my plan for a full-blown carnival on the school fields – that drive has been important in all my future roles.

Where did you go to for support and advice when setting up your charity?

I started by exploring the internet and learning as much as I could. Reading websites, articles, watching videos and figuring it out as I went along. Beyond that, I relied on friends, colleagues, and family to share ideas with and figure out next steps.

You are obviously passionate about entrepreneurship and innovative start-ups. Do you plan to start your own business one day?

I would love to run my own business and sustain myself through my own projects. In addition to setting up a charity, I currently have a small online business making gifts for entrepreneurs which I set up to give me some more practical experience to better advise startups. I’ve also previously taken part in an accelerator to set up my own events agency, which may be an option in the future. A big part of being entrepreneurial is exploring opportunities and making the most of the chances that come up.

If you could offer one piece of advice to our alumni who might be thinking about starting their own business, what would it be?

I would advise anyone considering setting up their own business to make a plan and breakdown what you are trying to achieve into small manageable goals. One of the biggest challenges’ entrepreneurs face is information overload – too much needs to be done, there is too little time and your business becomes a stress and a burden and fizzles out. I’ve experienced it myself. By having a clear plan of what you want to do and manageable steps – you can drive your business forward.

EIG be found on social on:

Facebook: @rguinnovation

Instagram: @rguinnovation

Twitter: @RGUInnovation

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