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Alumni Profile

Michael Lavery

Michael Lavery

BA English Studies 2000

Since graduating from the University of Sunderland, Michael has gone on to become a successful strategic brand, marketing and communications consultant, notably working with high-profile clients across education, health, arts, industry and third sectors, nationally and internationally.

Michael worked in higher education leadership for 12 years before establishing a national and international brand and marketing consultancy, Brand & Reputation Ltd in 2017.

Some of his clients have included NHS hospitals, Oxford, UCL, British Columbia (Vancouver), Manchester, Durham, Nottingham and Swansea universities, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Cancer Research UK, Costa Coffee, Audi UK and Deutsche Bank.

He said: “My biggest challenge has been creating my own business and securing high-profile clients in competition with some of the world’s biggest management consultancy and audit firms.”

Michael has extensive brand and marketing experience in the private and public sectors working across Europe, is an adviser to the House of Lords on education marketing and the public communication of science, and a fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts (FRSA) and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (FCIPR).

He is also a member of the European Association of Communications Directors (EACD) and the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM). He is a Director of a social enterprise in the health sector, the chair of a participatory arts charity and an ambassador for a national children’s charity.

He has served on the European Board of Trustees of CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) since 2014 and on its Global Board and Executive Committee since January 2017. Michael has spoken at prestigious education and marcomms conferences around the globe, and has lectured at Durham, Teesside and Sunderland universities.

When asked about his biggest achievements to date, Michael replied: “I have won several national awards and spoken at conferences in Asia, USA and across Europe, but particularly enjoy my time in London - as a guest at the Queen’s annual Garden Party in 2008 and more recently as an adviser to the House of Lords on education marketing.”

The breadth of modules of the course at Sunderland, combined with its high ranking, were what initially attracted Michael to study here.

“The English course at that time had a breadth of modules that ranged from phonics to renaissance literature,” he said.  “The City also offered a vibrant night life with live music and I was impressed with the library and the central location for my lectures in the Priestman, Green and Edinburgh buildings.”

He continued: “My studies of 20th Century contemporary literature – from Larkin to Joyce to Chandler to Kerouac – were truly inspirational and challenged (and updated) my love of classic literature.

“The Chancellor at the time, Lord Puttnam, was an inspirational figure to me as The Killing Fields was a favourite movie of mine. I have fond memories of lecturers including Richard Terry and Alison Younger.”

For Michael, gaining as much experience during your time at university is absolutely essential for any graduate looking to be successful, whatever field they choose to work in.

He advised: “Get as much experience as you can alongside your studies – evening and Saturday jobs, volunteering, work placements, internships.

“I worked in a supermarket, in a care home and in a bar, wrote articles for magazines, volunteered in youth work and sports which gave me transferable, real-world skills and experiences to take to my first jobs (and interviews).”

Michael has now set his sight firmly on growing the reach and profile of his company.

He concluded: “I set up Brand & Reputation in the spring of 2017 so have big plans to grow the reach and profile of our work and expertise across the UK and globally. I am building on firm foundations of my experience in advertising and PR agencies, as the Head of Communications at the former (Sunderland-based) £3billion turnover motor retail group, Reg Vardy plc, and then 12 years as Director and Executive Director leading all Marketing and Communications for Durham and Teesside universities.

“Spending time with my family and giving back to support UK education and the arts in my home region here in the North East is very important to me too.”

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