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Alumni of the Month March 2007
Barry Bassett (1989 Mathematics)
1. How did you get to where you are now?
Joined the family business straight from University, to give me a few years of helping out my folks before I began my proper career! I completed an MBA from Imperial College and it was either the world of international banking or making it big in broadcast - less money but the people are more fun. I chose the latter!
2. What has been your biggest achievement so far?
Being present at the birth of my son, now age 8. Workwise, I became managing director ten years ago and won a string of awards. Re-launching a company with a new broom, new finance and the burning ambition of a 20-something means that you can move mountains! Then, four years ago, I saw that the future was going to be High Definition. I wrote a brave business plan that saw my company eventually investing £2m to be the largest HD camera rental house in the UK and brought my company, VMI, high acclaim. We worked on several high profile international
co-productions such as Genghis Khan, Amazon Abyss and almost 40 feature films. I used this as a springboard to begin investing in feature films shot on HD and to date have invested in nine such films in the role of "Executive Producer".
3. And your biggest mistake?
Deciding to run my company from a distance when I was on top eight years ago. The whole thing went spectacularly wrong and the departments ran amok without me being there every day, as I didn't have the right management in place and lost a shed load of money as a result. I will never make that mistake again.
4. What are your ambitions now?
I have a new business idea which is an on-line internet service for
students. I am a bit bored of the cut and thrust of running a traditional company with massive overheads and problems. I want to achieve the nirvana of a better work-life balance and this is difficult to do in the conventional workplace. I vowed that when I became a dad, that I would be at home more than before as I didn't want to be an absent parent. Now, more often than not I achieve this and do so at the expense of my work - to me, money is no longer the sole objective and it lags behind family life by quite a bit. This might explain why I am nearly 40 and not rich yet! I also love cycling and have cycled over 5,000 miles over the last 20 months. I am taking part in a 1,000km ride through the Alps between Geneva and Cannes in June, in order to raise £10,000 for Leukaemia research. All net proceeds (once the £1,000 ride money is paid for) goes to Leuka and I would be delighted if any Keelites can support me.
5. What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in a similar field?
Always question authority and remember that no one ever wins in life by following the rules. My motto is still that: 1. rules are for other people and 2. always postpone growing up until you really have to. A career in broadcast is a lot of fun but it is a lot of work and unsociable hours. As a result, there are many broken families in TV. If you want to make lots of money, then join the international banking world instead!
6. What made you choose Keele University?
I got in through clearing, so really Keele chose me. However, knowing what I now know about Keele, I would never have considered anywhere else!
7. How has Keele influenced your life?
Hugely. Keele helped to develop me as an adult - albeit a child-like one with a mischievious sense of fun! The organisational skills acquired during my years of working on Rag events stood me in good stead for the rest of my life and some of the friends I made continue to be friends today.
8. What is your favourite memory of Keele?
Organising the wacky-custard-condom sports day on a glorious summer's day at Keele. The memory of students passing mouth to mouth, custard-filled condoms without being allowed to use their hands is indelibly etched into my brain! Also running for Union President in my first year with the slogan "Vote Bertie for Rag and vote for someone else!". The idea was that I was sponsored for the number of votes that I lost by. You can't buy memories like that!
9. And your worst?
Sitting an exam totally unprepared - only happened once and taught me another valuable lesson to ALWAYS be prepared!
10. Anything else you would like to add?
Pledge money to support my bike ride in June - Curing Leukemia offers the key to curing cancer. This is a charity really close to my heart since one of my close colleagues was diagnosed with Leukaemia aged 23 and now lives a full life as a result of the work that Leuka has done.