Scott Bowers (BA 2003, PGDip 2004) is a Cardiff University volunteer who’s been an alumni ambassador, a member of Cardiff University Court, and a student mentor. He works professionally as chief corporate affairs officer for one of the UK’s leading sports businesses, The Jockey Club, and has recently become a dad. Read on to discover why he is such an enthusiastic and dedicated volunteer.
Can you tell us a little about the volunteer roles you’ve undertaken for the University?
My first volunteering role for Cardiff University was as an alumni ambassador, which involves attending Open Days at a time that bests suits you and fits your schedule. It’s helpful for prospective students (and their parents!) to hear about the Cardiff experience from people who’ve lived it and to showcase the different things you can go on to do.
Cardiff University also offers employability modules to help students secure that first job in their chosen field and I was pleased to act as an employer to put them through their paces in readiness.
Subsequently I was asked to become a Member of Court, which is part of the governance of the University, with different people representing different interested parties, meeting with the University leadership and having the opportunity to constructively review their strategy and approach.
I’ve also been pleased to offer informal advice to students and graduates of the School of Journalism who are thinking about careers in journalism or communications and looking for advice, work experience and introductions where possible. In fact, a member of my team is a Cardiff grad who got her job via work experience with us because we were looking for the skills that she possesses.
In all cases, I’ve been made to feel that getting involved has helped people – in the same way that I was helped by the University Careers Service during my time as a student.
What inspired you to offer your time to support the University?
A member of the University team got in touch a while ago and, apart from being flattered to be asked, Cardiff has completely defined every aspect of my life. I met my wife while studying so I can’t even just say professionally! I felt a strong sense of commitment to the University and the city for the happy times I’ve enjoyed.
How has volunteering benefitted you personally and professionally?
To be honest, I’ve just enjoyed the different experiences. I can see there’s a strong benefit to expanding your professional and personal network, but in my case it’s a feeling of worth that I get from helping in some way, particularly for young people who benefit from a bit of a steer in areas they haven’t experienced yet. It’s also nice to add worthwhile things to my Cardiff CV for the future, as I often split my time professionally between London and Cardiff.
What’s your favourite volunteer moment so far?
In individual moments it’s been feeling like I might have helped a person, but standing back it’s actually been getting to know some of the Cardiff University team at the various events I’ve been involved in. They’re a really friendly and dedicated group of people who care passionately about both the University and the people it can help. Fair play to them!
What made you decide to study at Cardiff University?
Cardiff offered the UK’s highest-ranked course in my chosen subject and, as well as being impressed by the department, I fell in love with the city when I visited on an Open Day. I was tricked of course because it was sunny, but I thought the facilities were excellent, the white buildings in the Civic Centre had character, and I loved the proximity to the city centre.
What are your best memories of Cardiff University and the city?
As a student it was great to get to know so many people. My wife and best man are two examples. You know when you walk around and it feels like you’re in a real community of people you know to say hi to? Moving to London after University was a bit of a shift on that score! There are so many other things, like joining a local rugby club and experiencing a whole different side to the Welsh culture and country. I also have fond memories of eating out around the restaurants and cafés of Pontcanna, working on a laptop in the gone-but-not-forgotten City Road hangout called Shot in the Dark, and dreaming that maybe I’d just write books for a living and do it from coffee shops…
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Pre-pandemic, I’d have said watching all sorts of live sport and enjoying films in the Everyman cinema in Cardiff Bay, or any number of the performances in the Welsh College of Music & Drama and the Millennium Centre. But in April, during ‘lockdown’, my wife Sara and I welcomed our first child, a daughter called Aria. So, coupled with a lot of work to handle through the pandemic, spare time is now a hobby I don’t have! Walking her around Roath Park Lake or Victoria Park with its brilliant independent shops and foodie places is nice.
What would you say to a fellow alum thinking of giving their time to support the University and its students?
It’s a nice opportunity to give something back, meet new people and expand your network. You feel good doing it and there always seems to be plenty of cake kicking around too!
If you’d like to get involved and volunteer for Cardiff University then there are several ways that you can do this, and you will always be welcome as part of the Cardiff University team.