Drinks in the City series explores Pathways for the Future connecting Gordonians across the UK

This year, our Drinks in the City series has been exploring ‘Pathways for the Future’ looking at the experience of Gordonians as they embark on their post school journey sharing the opportunities they have pursued, the ups and downs in the world of work and how they have found roles they enjoy and feel passionate about in Creative, Tech and Sporting career pathways. 

The first event of the series took place in London at the White Horse Mayfair, hosted by Executive General Manager, Matthew Mawtus, Class of ‘03, who was joined by Jackie Frary from the Class of ‘05 and is Programme Manager with Ultraleap based in Bristol. 

Jackie attended Robert Gordon’s College from 1999 until 2005, receiving a bursary for her time at the school and is a strong advocate in promoting bursaries and the opportunities they present. 

During the event, Jackie talked about her journey since leaving the gates of Gordon’s when she initially went on to study Innovative Product Design at Duncan of Jordonston in Dundee before moving into the Oil and Gas industry. She has since worked in new technology and research and development for global projects at Dyson and has a strong interest in STEM subjects and their promotion. Former pupils enjoyed listening to the Q&A between Jackie and Matthew as she passionately spoke about her role at Ultraleap, now working in new technology product development in the Mixed and Virtual Reality industry. Jackie also discussed how her school days shaped her experience beyond school and her thoughts for the future in the decade ahead. 

Jackie comments: “I felt honoured to talk about my post RGC journey at the drinks in the city event but public speaking always makes me nervous. I had nothing to be nervous about as everyone was friendly and welcoming. The atmosphere at the beautiful venue made for an unforgettable evening and as soon as Matthew and I started the conversation the nerves disappeared. Connecting with known and new faces was the highlight for me, I'm looking forward to the next event and being on the other side.”

Having graduated with a BA in Hotel and Hospitality Management from The Scottish Hotel School at the University of Strathclyde, Matthew joined Gordon Ramsay at Claridges as Commis Sommelier.  He went on to win UK Young Waiter of the Year in 2007, UK Restaurant Manager of the Year in 2016, GQ Front of House of the Year in 2017. In 2018 Matthew was approached to open HIDE as Executive General Manager and currently splits his time between HIDE and The White Horse Mayfair. 

Drinks in the City Edinburgh took place at the Angels Share Hotel, hosted by the Development Team, who were joined by guest speaker Alistair Forbes from the Class of ‘78 who is Founding Director and CEO of the Scottish Tech Army, headquartered in Edinburgh. Many guests enjoyed connecting with former classmates and meeting new fellow Gordonians they would not have crossed paths with at school.

During the evening Alistair shared his post RGC journey. With no original intent to work in the field of IT, Alistair went on to study physiology at the University of Aberdeen, completing a PhD in Electrophysiology. Alistair discussed his pathway not being a linear one, starting his career as a research scientist before changing his role to Head of Computing and Technical services at a pharmaceutical company and working in senior IT appointments at major plc’s. Alistair shared his passion for launching and growing technology start-ups particularly in the SME space. The Scottish Tech Army was founded by Alistair at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to mobilise people in the tech sector in Scotland to support COVID response and recovery activity. It has now evolved to become a hub for tech for good activity in Scotland, with over 2000 passionate volunteers who have worked with more than 300 organisations to the benefit of the people and communities of Scotland. Alistair also passionately spoke about RGC Online and the need for more young people to be able to study Computing Science at school.

Alistair said: "The Drinks in the City event in Edinburgh on the 4th of May was the first such event organised by the school and I have attended and it was a pleasure to be able to spend a few minutes sharing my career journey (or I as described it at the time my "random walk”) with the other attendees. The group that gathered for the evening covered a wide age range and it was very interesting to be able to speak with others at various stages in their own career journeys, everything from recent school leavers to retirees. I look forward to future events and the other opportunities to meet and get to know fellow Gordonians.”

Laura Presslie, Director of Development, Marketing and Admissions shared “The breadth of experience of Gordonians is impressive and exchanging knowledge and experience from one Gordonian to another brings confidence, belief and the courage to take on new challenges. We see this in abundance from Gordonians which is why our events aim to bring like-minded people together who have shared the same school experience can be helpful at a time in life where advice or encouragement can take you in a new direction.”

The Esslemont Bar & Restaurant was the venue for Drinks in the City Aberdeen last week. Robin Macpherson, Head of College, discussed RGC’s vision for Sport followed by a Q&A session with guest speakers Lauren Axten, Teacher of PE at Robert Gordon’s College and Hannah Leslie, Head of Sport at Robert Gordon University, both from the Class of ‘08. As long term friends since school, Hannah and Lauren shared their experience of the sporting world and the growth of Netball as one of the country’s fastest growing sports.

Bringing their sporting experience to the panel session, the audience were able to hear first hand from two strong female role models from the Gordonian community. Their honest reflections from school and their passion for sport, the College and the north east, came across very well and the audience were interested to hear their thoughts and ideas for championing the new exciting plans for sport.

Lauren reflects: “The Drinks in the City event was a wonderful opportunity to share and celebrate the foundation, development, success and future of Netball at RGC. As Chair of the Aberdeen School’s Netball Association and partner of the Aberdeen Netball Network, I am excited to positively develop the opportunities for all boys and girls to play Netball in Aberdeen City and Shire. This event was a great opportunity for all those passionate about the future of sport to hear the Head of College’s exciting proposal for a national-standard sports facility at Countesswells and the positive impact this can have for the netball community in the North East of Scotland!” 

The Drinks in the City series will continue later this year with a new event planned for Glasgow in the new academic year and further details will be shared soon.