English UK is saying farewell in February to one of its best-known and most-travelled staff members, Jodie Gray.
During her seven years at the association, Jodie has managed to visit well over 30 countries for work, including scoping trips for the hugely popular English UK fairs, trade missions, and country reports, as well as the more routine trips to international workshops to promote the association.
She has led development of the enormously innovative and successful English UK Fairs -- which pioneered the idea of luxurious, intimate agent workshops giving participants time and space to really build relationships - and also the Partner Agency Scheme, which has just welcomed its 200th member.
Starting in a marketing communications role "for which I had very little relevant experience: thank you to Tony Millns for spotting a glimmer of something in my CV, and entrusting me with a great deal of responsibility over the years" Jodie has risen to jointly oversee the work of the International Team, which looks after all agent-related and promotional activities and international affairs.
Jodie is moving on to a rapidly-expanding company called the Intern Group, which places university students from around the world in internships in London, Madrid, Hong Kong, Melbourne and Colombia, as Head of University Relations for the Asia Pacific region. She will initially be based in Sydney and London and later in Bangkok and London. "My life as a global nomad is set to continue," she jokes.
Looking back, Jodie said: "My greatest highlights and memories of my seven years at English UK come from the English UK Fairs. I'm very proud of how we have developed these, together with the English Language Promotions Group, into regular, extremely popular and much-anticipated fixtures in the international education calendar. The glowing testimonials from delegates, the high percentage of eager returnees and the fact that they always sell out several months ahead of time are testament to their incredible success.
"I'm also very proud of our successful launch of the partner agency scheme and its online briefing course following years of discussions, the building of ever-closer working relationships with strategic partners around the world such as the British Council and UK Trade & Investment, and last year, after many setbacks, successfully leading English UK's first trade mission to a post-revolution Libya together with Annie Wright.
"We've changed so much over my time here: we've worked for a massive step-up in the range of our marketing and outreach activities, which I'm sure contributed to us winning Study Travel magazine's Star Award School Association the maximum five times, so becoming an STM Super Star."
Jodie, English UK's senior international manager, has other personal highlights, including "the look on the delegates faces" when they walked into StudyWorld's new-style Welcome Reception in 2011 -- and found themselves in a room transformed beyond their wildest expectations.
She adds: "I've been privileged to have had the opportunity to travel extensively in more than 30 countries around the world. I've enjoyed nearly every minute! I've loved the huge variety in my responsibilities and activities. No day is the same. I could be discussing the possibility of projecting an image of the English UK logo onto the ancient city walls of Xi'an in the morning (and will have to wait until our 2015 fair there to find out if it was possible), and editing a market report in the afternoon. I've also loved the like-minded, talented, interesting and fun people that I've met around the world in the course of carrying out my job, from English UK members to study abroad agents, suppliers, strategic partners and international educators and of course, my amazing colleagues. I now count many among my friends."
Jodie, who speaks seven languages, leaves with fantastic memories. "The most vivid was at the English UK Fair in Hanoi, when the sight of 100 delegates riding on the back of vintage scooters through the chaos of Hanoi's Old Town was both terrifying and thrilling. Terrifying, as it suddenly dawned on me that we may not have adequate insurance cover for such recklessness, and thrilling that we had actually managed to pull it off!
"And my most emotive memory came at my last English UK Fair: Chiang Mai 2013. Watching delegates launch 50 huge paper fire lanterns, emblazoned with the English UK logo, into the dark night sky was captivating. It is a sight that I'll never forget and a fitting way for me to draw a line under my time as the lead organiser of the English UK Fairs: 6 years; 15 events; 15 countries."
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