Alumni spotlight

From LS2 to every corner of the world, so many of our Leeds alumni have a story to tell. Explore their journeys with our alumni spotlight.

Do you have a story to share?

We are always on the lookout for more alumni to feature in our alumni spotlight. Wherever you are in the world, and whatever you might be doing, tell us about your time at Leeds and the journey you’ve taken.


Cec Thompson: The most remarkable of graduates

Cec Thompson (Economics 1968, Hon MA 1994) became just the second black rugby league player ever to be capped by Great Britain. His remarkable rise on the field is matched only by his achievements off it, as he pushed himself from illiteracy to graduation.

Namrah Shahid: Changing the story with Hijabi Runners

Woodhouse Moor parkrun helped introduce Namrah Shahid (Chemistry 2016; MSc 2017; PhD 2021) to the joys of running. But when she noticed nobody else looked like her, she set out to help other South Asian and Muslim women realise that running could be for them, too.

Claire Cashmore: The road to Tokyo

Heading into her fifth Paralympic Games, read about how eight-time medallist Claire Cashmore MBE (Linguistic and Phonetics 2011, Hon LLD 2013) is preparing for Tokyo 2020.

Talking taboos: Olivia Cotes-James

Named in the Forbes 30 under 30 Asia list, we find out how founder of LUÜNA Naturals Olivia Cotes-James (English Literature 2013) is improving lives across a continent.

Kate O'Sullivan: A passion born in Leeds

Kate O'Sullivan (Mineral Engineering 1985), Deputy Chair of British Rowing and recipient of a British Empire Medal, discusses her time rowing at Leeds, her love of the sport, and British prospects ahead of Tokyo 2020.

Lucy Clayton: How to go to work

Lucy Clayton (English Literature 2003), co-author of How to Go to Work: The Honest Advice No One Ever Tells You at the Start of Your Career, draws on years of experience and insight from her latest book to answer your career questions.

Olivia Strong MBE: A £7 million idea

We discover how a challenge between friends went on to raise over £7 million for NHS Charities Together during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Matthias Maurer - From Leeds to the International Space Station

Catch this special feature, as we speak to materials science and technology alum Matthias Maurer, an astronaut with the European Space Agency (ESA).

Chrysi Philalithes: The power of innovation

We caught up with Chrysi Philalithes (Economics & Politics with North American Studies) to find out more about her time at Leeds, and her partnerships with the world’s most iconic brands as former Chief Digital Office at (RED).

Charlotte Walsh: Working towards a plastic free future

Charlotte Walsh (MRes Chemistry 2013) is using her experiences in manufacturing and engineering to help create a greener future.

Escaping poverty: the learnings that shaped Madan Luthra

As a refugee growing up in India, Dr Madan Luthra (PhD Biochemistry 1972) learnt that education would prove his lifeline. Read about his astonishing journey to Leeds, his influential scientific discoveries, and the many lives he changed along the way.

Simon Kaviani: Gimme some sunshine

With all of his gigs cancelled in March 2020, musician Simon Kaviani’s (Latin 2002) mental health took a turn for the worse, but therapy helped him to focus on creating new music.

Charlotte and Darran Miller: The Caroboo adventure

Discover how married couple Charlotte (Biology 2010) and Darran Miller (MSc Advanced Clinical Practice 2016) have ventured into the land of chocolate with their new vegan choco bar, Caroboo.

Simeon Walker: Finding peace

For pianist and composer Simeon Walker (Music 2008), 2020 didn't exactly turn out to be the year he was hoping for, but that doesn't mean it should be one to forget. We find out why.

Bobbi Rae: Bringing colour to the streets of Leeds

Artist and designer Bobbi Rae (Textile Design 2013) is using her talent to brighten public spaces in Leeds.

Beth Calverley: The power of poetry

Following her appearances on BBC Radio 5 Live, and a place in the finals of the Bristol Arts Awards, find out how poet Beth Calverley (English Language and Literature 2015) is helping others to experience the power of poetry.

Col Needham: 30 years of IMDb

Col Needham has been described by The Guardian as the most powerful Brit in Hollywood. We spoke to the Founder and CEO of IMDb, the number one movie website in the world, ahead of his Leeds Alumni Voices event in November 2020.

Alison Harvey: Shaping The Crown

Fans of film and television are likely to have enjoyed the work of set designer Alison Harvey (Fine Art 1988), though they might not even know it. Now, she has received an Emmy for Outstanding Production Design following her work on one of Netflix’s biggest shows, historical drama The Crown.

Katie Davies: Life at LinkedIn

Good communication has never been so important as during Covid-19. LinkedIn’s Senior Employee Communications Manager Katy Davies (Management Studies 2003) tells us how the professional networking site has adapted to the crisis.

Reverend Roger Quick: Helping the homeless

The remarkable story of Reverend Roger Quick (Music 1979; Theology 1996) and St George’s Crypt – a charity dedicated to supporting the homeless in Leeds – takes him from the doors of the Crypt, to the pinnacle of musical performance and back again.

Rupa Ganguli: Sustainability through everyday fashion and lifestyle choices

An international trade specialist by profession and an entrepreneur at heart, Rupa Ganguli (MSc Textile Management 2001) has literally travelled the world of textiles and fashion in her career. We caught up with Rupa before she hosted our Leeds Alumni Voices event in September 2020.

Professor Adam Beaumont: The Beaumont Awards

Professor Adam Beaumont (Chemistry 1993; PhD 1996) set up the Beaumont Awards in 2018 to recognise outstanding research projects conducted by students at the University. We caught up with Adam to find out about his inspiration for setting up the awards and his advice for graduates.

Ellen Manning: Food for thought

From her days as a student reporter at Leeds to covering the 2012 London Olympics, Ellen Manning (English Language and Literature 2004) has covered a lot of ground in her career as a journalist. She shares her journey after Leeds as well as her growing passion for food writing.

Frankie Tortora: Doing It For The Kids

Working freelance isn’t always easy. Working freelance while raising two children, creating a community of fellow freelancing parents, and producing an award-winning podcast is a different matter altogether. Graphic designer Frankie Tortora (Music 2007) tells us exactly how she's done exactly that.

Rhian Hughes: Creating a lockdown cinema experience

When the work stopped coming in during the Covid-19 pandemic, Rhian Hughes (Music 2016) decided to focus on creating her own. Discover how Rhian organised the Multi Story Picture House Drive-Up Cinema – a socially distanced outdoor cinema experience.

Edward Rosen: Planting gardens to improve health and wellbeing

The food we eat is vital to our health and wellbeing. Yet as Edward Rosen (International History and Politics 1971) has proven, food can enrich our lives in ways far beyond simply filling our stomachs.

Sophie Jelley: From Tetley Halls to York Minster

When she performed in York Minster with the LUU Chamber Choir in 1992, Sophie Jelley (Theology and Religious Studies 1993) never imagined she’d be invited back to the same spot for her ordination as Bishop of Doncaster 28 years later. Discover her journey from Leeds, to Uganda, and back again.

Winston Liew: Leeds alumnus nominated for global award

We explore the story of Winston Liew (Law 2011), a placemaker and curator who designs community spaces in his home country, Malaysia, and across the globe. In 2020, he was nominated as a global finalist in the British Council Study UK Alumni Awards 2020.

Amy Kavanagh: A safer environment for disabled people around the world

Visually impaired activist and campaigner, Amy Kavanagh (History 2010), has used social media to create a positive movement across the globe. After encounters with overenthusiastic helpers who did more harm than good, Amy’s campaign – #JustAskDontGrab – was born.

Jon Pallett: Running with the pack

Over the last few years Jon Pallett (MBA 2011) has been instrumental in helping to create a rugby revolution in Toronto. We find out how sporting history was made on 2 February as Toronto Wolfpack became the first ever North American club to play in the top flight of a European sports league.

Jake Warren: Podcast creator lines up with the stars

Jake Warren (Social Policy 2013) found himself in illustrious company when his podcast, Conflicted, was nominated for the the Best Independent Podcast at the Audio and Radio Industry Awards (ARIAS), the Oscars of UK radio and audio.

There are many other ways to stay connected with your fellow alumni: