An Honour to reconnect

1 Dec 2008
A UQ graduate has spearheaded a national campaign to reconnect the Honours Alumni from the Faculty of Business, Economics and Law. John Cooper, Partner at Allens Arthur Robinson, is passionate about helping the Honours graduates of the UQ Business, Commerce and Economics programs maintain and strengthen connections with each other. Mr Cooper was in Brisbane recently to officially launch the new Alumni network and announce the Frank Finn Scholarships for 2009 Honours students. Named after the former BEL Director of Studies, who, incidentally, was Mr Cooper's Honours thesis supervisor, the Frank Finn Scholarship Fund was established through generous donations from Alumni and colleagues. "When I did my undergraduate degrees there was no such thing as fees, and I honestly believe, for those who are suited, a good education is an incredible start," Mr Cooper said. "For any University to be able to offer an opportunity for students to gain an education like I received is fantastic." Entry to BEL Honours programs is via invitation only and is based on academic achievement in a related undergraduate degree. It is hoped that the new Alumni network will bring together a group of business-minded individuals with a range of career experiences. "Whilst I have very good friends from my other degrees, on a percentage basis, the number of friends I have from my Honours degree is much greater and that's because of the amount of time we spent together at the ages we were at, studying in the way we were studying," Mr Cooper said. "So I think informally those relationships are there. This is just recognising them formally, and in that regard, this is a new concept. "The reality is a lot of people from these programs have gone on to do good things, if not great things, so you can Google them and find them fairly easily. "Someone like Anthony Lynch for example is in a Professorial position in New York and, because he publishes so much, he's easily tracked down. "It should be fairly easy if we can get a network of people under us who are, for their year, responsible for drawing in those who want to be drawn in. "Our hope is that they can visit our page, log on and then they'll remain in contact forever." Mr Cooper, who was the first in many generations of his family to attend University, partly credits his success as a lawyer to the Commerce Honours program. After graduating with degrees in both Commerce and Law in 1987, he began working at, and later became a partner of, the Brisbane-based firm Feez Ruthning, which merged with Allen Allen & Hemsley in 1996. In 2001, Allen Allen & Hemsley merged with Melbourne firm Arthur Robinson & Hedderwicks to become Allens Arthur Robinson, where Mr Cooper remains a partner. "A lot of people say to me: 'You did Honours in commerce and never used it.' "Have I used my Honours degree? I've not been necessarily practicing in the paradigms that are associated with my Honours degree but my Honours degree gave me a framework for thinking, and that framework for thinking has helped me enormously in my profession as a lawyer and will continue to help me enormously." Mr Cooper said he hoped it would be possible to organise at least one social function per year in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, as well as continuing education events, for members of the Honours Alumni network. "Having been in Sydney for almost five years and been involved in a firm the way I have been, one thing that strikes me is that this University, the Faculty and the School are held in incredibly high regard," he said. "Anything we can do to promote the networks that this University has and the wealth that presents - not necessarily in a donation sense but just in the sense of people getting in contact with each other and generating ideas - is incredibly worthwhile. "I suppose, in a classic marketing sense, this is just segmenting the market. It's targeting a group of people who did a particular postgraduate degree and developed relationships with each other and with Faculty, and seeing that maintained for the benefit of not only them, but also the University. "It's pretty straight forward but we've got a lot of work to do." Further information on the UQ Business School's alumni relations is available online.