Simon Bray - alumnus profile
When Simon started studying Economics in 1993, UWE Bristol had just gained university status. Simon remembers the sense of optimism on campus. Now, over 20 years later, he has returned to campus to provide student support and funding through UK's Santander Universities.
Early career in sports marketing
Simon enjoyed playing rugby at UWE Bristol. After graduation he jumped at the chance to pursue his passion in a digital marketing job advising sports clients. At the time, the internet was still fairly new and digital marketing was growing in popularity. Simon worked his way up to management level, becoming responsible for strategic advice and business development.
Moved back into industry
Following structural changes in the agency, Simon decided to head back into industry. Recalling his original interest in economics and identifying transferrable skills, he opted for a career in banking. His banking career led him to Abbey National (now Santander). In 2007, he took the lead on setting up Santander Universities (SU) in the UK. He says, "It was a whole new company that we had to set up from nothing. I decided to go on that journey."
Supporting students and graduates UK-wide
Eight years later, the programme provides support and funding for 77 universities across the UK. UWE Bristol students and graduates have received over £240,000 which has helped fund scholarships, enterprise activities and travel bursaries.
Cindy Fernandez, MSc International Human Resource Management, said: "The Santander Scholarship has helped me fulfill my dream of doing a postgraduate programme. I hope that when I'm back in Venezuela, I can promote studying abroad to other young Venezuelans, so they can have similar opportunities."
Creates opportunities for business and students
The scheme also supports small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and organises 2,000 internships and 500 work placements every year for students across the UK.