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Alumni Advisory Board Members

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Varun Phogat: Project Officer - United Nations (BSc Information Systems, 2006)

In his current professional role, Varun is responsible for the end-to-end execution of UN peacebuilding missions in Europe, Asia, The Middle East, Africa and South America. Varun has over 12 years’ experience in Communications, Media Relations, Partnerships and Community Development, expanding his diverse professional portfolio with the Government of India, not-for-profit and international organisations including the United Nations, Red Cross, High Commission of India in the UK, and the Commonwealth Games committees. He has also pursued two Master’s degrees in Political Science and an MBA specialising in communications and international relations.

Varun is passionate about creating a society built on equality, respect and opportunities for all. In 2014 he founded The Hooria Foundation (regd. NGO), supporting education and innovation to help craft young minds and shape an independent, creative and socially empowered culture for underprivileged children in India.

In addition to gaining independence and the exposure to many cultures, Varun’s biggest take away from Brunel is that education gives courage to think differently and get ahead, courage to discover the unknown, and courage to express and create a unique identity for the disciplined path to accomplish your dreams.

Helen Epega: Composer - The Venus Bushfires (BSc Communication & Media Studies, 2003)

Helen is a Nigerian-British singer-songwriter, composer, performer and workshop facilitator who explores the ethereal sounds of the ‘hang’, the power of the talking drum, and the quirks of children’s toys cross-fertilising multiple visual and musical styles. She has created music for Christian Dior, Sony Play Station, Disney, Oxfam, British Asian Trust (a personal charity for HRH Prince Charles), and her work has been featured on BBC, CNN, TVC News, The Guardian UK, Channel 4 UK, Reuters, France 24, Le Monde, and The Guardian Nigeria. She orchestrated the world’s first ever “hang flash gig” at the Lovebox festival in London and has played percussion with Sir Paul McCartney.

In 2008 Helen founded the ‘Just A Day’ initiative offering expressive arts workshops globally, using music and other art forms to engage, inspire, empower, heal and unite. In 2015 she wrote and composed the world's first pidgin (broken English) opera 'Song Queen: A Pidgin Opera' which debuted in London and has since been performed in Cape Town and Lagos, and will debut in New York in 2023.

In 2021 Helen produced ‘Sounds of Us - A Sound Art Snapshot: Life, Love, Fear, Hope & Protest in the Time of Pandemic Lockdown’ exploring every day and sacred sounds, forming part of a larger music-meets-tech project connecting people globally through shared sounds.

Matthew Kay: Data Protection Officer - Metro Bank (BSc Sport Sciences, 2009)

Matthew currently provides strategic leadership to a team of data protection professionals at Metro Bank (UK) operating under the SMCR regime, ensuring compliance with the UK GDPR and other associated legislation. He holds the CIPP/E, CIPM, a Masters in Information Rights Law and Practice, and the BCS certificate in Data Protection. He is also an IAPP Fellow of Information Privacy as well as being a certified Level 5 SAFe Agilist.

Matthew has worked in data protection for large scale organisations across media, technology and local government, providing expert guidance across 96 jurisdictions. He has also led a team of auditors at the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), helping organisations to improve their data protection, privacy and information security practices to reduce risk, and worked as part of a network of trainers delivering internal training at the ICO. Matthew is a board member of the Data Protection Network and a regular speaker at numerous external events on data protection and privacy.

The biggest thing Matthew took away from his time at Brunel is his support network - both professional and personal. He made lifelong friends and built great professional contacts who have helped in his career, and as a result, become friends.

Dr Esra AlDhaen: Assistant Professor and Executive Director of the Centre for Quality Assurance and Accreditation - Ahlia University (PhD WR Management Studies, 2017)

In addition to teaching and supervising students, Esra oversees university level quality and accreditation operations by setting standards, evaluating strategic measures, and conveying high level reports used in senior management decision making.

Esra is also an external quality and accreditation reviewer for various countries including Saudi Arabia, Oman and the Kingdom of Bahrain. Esra has obtained Principle Fellowship to the Higher Education Academy (HEA) as a reflection of obtaining and understanding the UK Teaching and Learning Framework, enabling Ahlia University to obtain the highest judgement in all its quality assurance reviews conducted by various external authorities.

Esra has published various papers in the area of strategic decision making and quality. Her passion for research and loyalty to Brunel led her to establish the PhD Without Residence alumni club in 2017, with the aim of maintaining relationships with graduates and supporting collaborative research across graduates, PhD researchers, and supervisors.

The biggest thing Esra took away from her time at Brunel is the chance to obtain a high-quality academic degree delivered by a world-class faculty.

Oyebola Folaranmi: Barrister - Mishcon De Reya LLP (BSc International Politics, 2007)

After graduating, Oyebola attended BPP Law School, undertaking a Graduate Diploma in Law following by the Bar Vocational Course and was called to the Bar of England and Wales as a Barrister at Lincoln's Inn in October 2010. Oyebola then worked as an Analyst in AML and in client onboarding at Goldman Sachs, dealing with clients such as hedge funds, PLC's and private companies looking to do business with the investment banking and securities divisions.

Oyebola secured pupillage with Old Bailey Chambers in 2012 before joining 187 Fleet Street Chambers where he practiced as a barrister from 2013 to 2021. During this time, he prosecuted and defended in many criminal trials, advised clients on various legal problems, and served as a member of the Chambers Management, and with the Financial Conduct Authority which regulates all individuals and entities that provide regulated financial services in the UK.

Oyebola left the independent Bar in September 2021 and is currently working as a Managing Associate Barrister in the dispute resolution department of an international law firm. 

The biggest thing that Oyebola took away from his time at Brunel is the importance of critical analysis and challenging ideas, and not just accepting them at face value.

Philip Ah-Chuen: Executive Director - Allied Motors Co Ltd. (BTech Mathematics & Statistics, 1974)

After Brunel, Philip completed an MSc in Industrial Administration and took up his first job as a Lecturer in Management Studies at the University of Mauritius. He went on to join the Management Consultancy department of the biggest firm of accountants in Mauritius before setting up ABC Motors Co Ltd in 1985. Philip later successfully co-founded Allied Motors Co Ltd, marketing VW and Audi vehicles in Mauritius.

Philip later resumed his part-time lecturing at the University of Mauritius and the Mauritius Employers Federation Management Centre run by the Mauritian Institute of Management (MIM), and was selected as a local tutor in both Marketing and Corporate Strategy modules for the University of Surrey’s MBA distance learning programmes in Mauritius. He is currently the Executive Director of Allied Motors Co Ltd, a Non-Executive Director of Chue Wing and Co Ltd, a Board Director of Civil Service College Mauritius, Chairman of the Federation MFRs of Mauritius, and the Chairman of the Utility Regulatory Authority.

The biggest thing that Philip took away from his time at Brunel was that he was one of the first Mauritian students to study here and says he owes his success as an entrepreneur and well-known lecturer to his time at Brunel.

Rhiannon Dowdall: Finance Director - Heathrow (BA Modern Drama Studies with French, 2003)

Rhiannon began her career in the Operations function of an American technology company and quickly progressed to running the EMEA Operations function. She then diversified into a forecasting role with the Finance team and decided to enhance her skills by undertaking a qualification with the Chartered Institute for Management Accounting (CIMA). Rhiannon joined Heathrow in 2011 and has continued her varied career with roles in Commercial, Operations and Finance, and is now the Finance Director for Business Partnering. She is also the Finance Director for Heathrow Travel Care, a social care charity, and has led Heathrow's gender equality network.

Rhiannon loved her time at Brunel and met lifelong friends, including her husband! Her biggest take away is learning the value of your network and learning to live by yourself - including budgeting. She also gained a huge appreciation for the local community, and has remained a local resident ever since.

Jatin Patel: Head of Diversity & Inclusion - England Rugby RFU (BSc Politics & History, 2007)

Jatin is an inclusion, diversity, social equality and advocacy professional with over 12 years' experience working across the private and charity sectors.

In his current role, Jatin focuses on driving the diversity and inclusion strategy across four strategic pillars: Game play; Fans, followers and partners; Employee, Board and Game Leadership via multi-year action plans and key events; Ongoing awareness and education and advocacy for positive change. Prior to joining the RFU, Jatin worked for the international law firm DLA Piper, for KPMG UK, and for the charitable foundation Impetus, developing specific expertise in social and racial equality, communication campaigns, and public and organisational policy.

The biggest thing Jatin took away from his time at Brunel is his sense of identity and confidence. The experiences he had at Brunel formed the basis of his career, while some his closest friends - and his wife - are the wonderful people her had the fortune to meet on campus.

Jasmine During: Programme Manager - 2-3 Degrees (BSc Psychology & Sociology, 2014)

Since graduating, Jasmine has pursued her passion of empowering children and young people to be their best selves regardless of the barriers they face. Whether it was putting a smile on the faces of children with social, emotional, and mental health needs, or creating fun, creative, and engaging programmes during her time at a national youth charity, she has enjoyed giving young people a voice and putting them at the forefront of her work.

Co-facilitating the Youth Advisory Group responsible for planning and delivering the first National Day of Hope on behalf of the Hope 2020 Collective is one of Jasmine’s favourite career moments. In her current role, Jasmine is looking forward to designing personal development youth programmes to arm the next generation with the confidence and leadership skills needed to design the life that they deserve.

The biggest thing Jasmine took away from her time at Brunel is the importance of cultivating a strong and supportive network, consisting of a diverse range of professionals and fellow students.

Keagan van Wijk: Trainee Solicitor - Clifford Chance LLP (LLB Law with International Arbitration & Commercial Law, 2020)

After moving from his hometown in South Africa to pursue his degree, Keagan left Brunel having been awarded best overall undergraduate dissertation in Commercial Law, best overall performance at Law Level 1, and best overall performance in Criminal Law. In 2021 Keagan graduated with his LLM Commercial Legal Practice (LPC) Master’s degree before starting a 2-year training contract with Magic Circle law firm, Clifford Chance LLP, in London.

In his current role, Keagan has had the opportunity to work in Clifford Chance’s Financial Regulation team and as a FinTech Knowledge Lawyer. Furthering his experience in the financial sphere, Keagan has been seconded to Barclays Bank PLC in their Debt Capital Markets legal team assisting with regulatory and debt capital issuances as well as the preparation of Barclays’ annual results. Keagan is currently seconded to the Private Assets legal team at Schroders PLC, assisting with a variety of Private Funds related matters.

The biggest thing Keagan took away from his time at Brunel is the inter-personal, academic, and career development opportunities that provided him with the confidence to jump-start his career.

Carson Kan: Head of Design - Neusoft Medical Systems (MSc Integrated Product Design, 2011)

After graduating, Carson settled in mainland China and stepped onto a medical device design journey for a decade. During these 10 years he designed for 30+ categories of medical devices and received 40+ design awards, including iF Design, Red Dot, IDEA, and two awards as a Top 10 designer from Forbes and the Chinese design industry.

During 2020-22, Carson joined the Young Designers Circle of World Design Organization as a volunteer to work on global design initiatives with design professions around the world and is currently a Design Director for Autel Technology; a leading global player in car diagnostics and new energy. He is passionate about achieving sustainable development goals through design, particularly in the areas of good health and wellbeing, and affordable and clean energy.

The biggest thing Carson took away from his time at Brunel was the chance to learn about design thinking in a western country and elaborate it in his professional design journey.