Spotlight on Lori Manders
1 June 2012
This week the spotlight is on Lori Manders, Director of Development and Alumni Relations.
What is your role and what does it involve?
I think I probably have the best job at UCL. My role in leading the Development and Alumni Relations Office is to help realise the potential UCL has to raise philanthropic funds. Primarily my office builds relationships with individuals, trusts, foundations and companies who can support institutional priorities.
In essence, we are storytellers. With the help of our academic colleagues, we identify people or organisations and find ways to engage and inspire them to support the outstanding work that takes place here at UCL. We reconnect alumni with modern-day UCL through a range of communications, events and meetings. We mobilise our alumni and supporters here and overseas to be our ambassadors, to offer their time to support our activities and, of course, hopefully to invest in our future.
This month UCL announced the close of its campaign, launched in 2004 with a target of £300m. It was due to be completed in 2014, but closed earlier than planned with a total of £316m. This was a major achievement and a major institutional effort. It puts us firmly in position for the next campaign, which is likely to be the largest in Europe, outside Oxbridge.
How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?
I joined UCL last February from the University of Aberdeen where I worked for 12 years. I joined Aberdeen in 1999 as Director of Student Recruitment and Admissions and in 2001 became the university's first ever Director of Marketing. For the last seven years at Aberdeen, I was the Director of Development and External Affairs. At Aberdeen, we set out to raise £150m and when I left we were close to £200m.
Previous to that, I worked in the Health Service for 8 years in public health, mainly in the area of health promotion.
What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?
For me, I feel a real sense of achievement when I see people in my team develop, grow in confidence and achieve things they themselves didn't believe possible. I am already seeing that with the team I am working alongside here.
If I had to pick one initiative I am most proud of, it would be the £20m raised for the new £60m library at Aberdeen - probably because I was involved right from the start when it was just an impossible dream, right the way through all the project boards, to choosing the architects, to the point of securing the first seven-figure gift and eventually the opening. There were over 4,000 donations in the end.
What is your life like outside UCL?
For the first year, I commuted back and forward to Scotland each week, which meant I spent a lot of time in airports and on the sleeper train. I have now fully relocated and my nine-year-old daughter Poppy joined me in January this year to start her new school - so I am beginning to get my life back a bit!
However, interests outside work tend to be focused around her hectic social life and interests, which has taken me to some interesting places including the Dr Who convention in Cardiff, where I even bumped into some UCL staff - you know who you are!
I am still a bit of a tourist in London so try and soak up as much as I can. I love jazz and I suppose it's a sign of how I have been spending my time, that the waiters at Ronnie Scott's recognise me now.
I also seem to have become a weekend B & B for all my friends from Scotland. The upside is they bring me down local delicacies from Aberdeen that I miss, such as a highly calorific thing called a buttery, which has a flaky texture and buttery taste, similar to a flattened, round croissant, very salty and around 1,000 calories - you can take a girl out of Aberdeen, as they say! Well at least it's not deep-fried Mars bars!