“My degree from Heriot-Watt has given me a passport to a great career – and I want to help others do the same”.
The fondness that Watt Club President Keith Wallace has for Heriot-Watt cannot be overstated. A Civil Engineering graduate, he remembers studying in a very different environment to that enjoyed by students today.
“When I arrived at Heriot-Watt, back in the eighties, it was very male, very white and very Scottish. There weren’t many students from outside the UK, which was a shame.
Times have changed for the better. The internationalisation of Heriot-Watt has been one of the best things to have happened recently. Our campuses in Dubai and Malaysia have meant we truly sit on a global platform, and our Edinburgh campus is a truly cosmopolitan environment. I believe that if students experience as many cultures as they can whilst still young, it means they will go on to become better global citizens.”
With rugby being a life-long passion (he served on the Board and Council of Scottish Rugby Union 2005-6), a highlight of his time here was missing lectures (very naughty!) to watch the unbeaten Wallabies team of 1984 and the All Blacks of 1985 train at the Edinburgh Campus. On a more recent trip to Australia, Keith played with the King Penguins, and as the photo to the right shows, not many Scotsmen have held the rugby world cup, but he is one of them!
Inspired by one of his lecturers, Prof. John Cowan and his words “All I was trying to do was give you inquiring minds”, Keith graduated and went on to work in the rail industry, initially with British Rail and then with Scott Wilson, rising to become CEO of Railways and working on some of the largest rail projects in the world.
“I’ve always been driven in choosing my career path by ensuring that I share common values and beliefs in whatever company I work for. This is a sure route to being happy at work – if you just constantly chase higher wages, I don’t believe you will ever truly be happy in your job. As Confucius said, ‘Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life’. I couldn’t agree more.”
Keith’s work as Watt Club President began in January 2012 when he was elected to the post. “Something I love to do is help develop other people, and this position is a great opportunity to allow me to do that as I sit on the committee to disperse Watt Club funds to student projects. The altruistic nature of the projects never cease to amaze – for example this year we had an application for funding for two students who wanted to support a rape crisis centre in Rwanda. This is the sort of generous, world-wide thinking we want to encourage in our students and graduates.”
Keith’s main aim for the remainder of his term is to re-connect with our lost alumni. “Graduates move, change jobs, go off on adventures and often this means we lose touch with them. We’re stronger together, with a worldwide network of graduates and the more we have, the more useful we can be to each other. ”
Keith sends a monthly email to all our alumni, updating them on Heriot-Watt news and events. If you are a Heriot-Watt graduate and would like to receive this, please click here to sign up or log in to your Watt Club account.