Craig Phillips: AGCAS Outstanding Newcomer 2016

04 October 2016

The winner of the 2016 AGCAS Outstanding Newcomer Award is Craig Phillips, Career Consultant at The University of Edinburgh. Despite having only started his career in HE 20 months ago, Craig has already made a phenomenal contribution to the shaping of the Careers and Employability Service at Edinburgh.

Craig has met the challenges of a demanding caseload, whilst single-handedly driving important strategic projects, including careers support for widening participation students and a mentoring scheme in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology. Craig has also introduced a range of initiatives and approaches, which have created opportunities to engage students, academics and employers.

History alumni and mentoring project

Craig sourced and invited a range of employers to inspire students. Funded by a key benefactor, the success of this event and its subsequent feedback prompted the donor to disburse an additional £3,000 for careers activity. Craig then met with senior Development & Alumni managers and pitched an idea to use the funds to subsidise a pilot mentoring scheme for 3rd year history students. Craig submitted an excellent proposal, which the donor approved. Seeing an opportunity to professionalise the project, Craig sourced an external consultancy to deliver bespoke training for the participants.

With no existing blueprint, Craig successfully steered the mentoring project through to implementation. Managing the various stakeholders required sensitivity, political acumen and persistence. The benefits have been immediate.

Dr Thomas Ahnert, Head of History at The University of Edinburgh, commented on Craig's initiative:

"He has had a major positive impact on the way in which we go about preparing our students for life after university, and he has managed to do so in a very short space of time. The mentoring scheme is a wonderful initiative."


Widening participation

Thanks to his own drive and commitment, Craig has carved out a role as WP champion within the careers service. He recently presented at a QMU LEAPS (Lothians Equal Access Programme for Schools) Conference for Teachers, captivating the audience with his energy and insight.

Joanne Stubbs, Co-ordinator, LEAPS, commented:

"Our teachers learnt a lot and you were able to challenge some rather negative stereotypes in a very evidence based approach."

Commitment and professionalism

At the very heart of Craig’s approach is his dedication to the students, and this drives his pursuit of excellence. Historically reluctant to engage, HCA students are now using the service, doubling one-to-one appointment bookings in the last year. Craig is quick to harness the knowledge and expertise of others, and has put this to good effect in developing an employer engagement strategy.