Fellows come in all shapes and sizes and each one has a unique experience as a Fellow.
The question “What is RSA Fellowship?” is really hard to answer as it’s different for everyone.
I thought it would be interesting to look at a couple of interesting examples of Fellowship. Take for example David Turner, who was recently elected as President of RSA United States. David started out studying textile design at a middle tier UK college anticipating few prospects after graduation. When a professor recognized his untapped potential and submitted his work to an RSA Industrial Bursaries Competition, all that changed. David won a prize and was fast-tracked to the Royal College of Art where he completed a masters degree and his real career began. His work took him to the United States, were he took up various senior positions in the textile industry focusing on product design, innovation, and technology development.
Although always grateful for the doors that opened to him because of the RSA, David didn’t keep up RSA Fellowship during the years he was busy building his career and starting a family. Eventually, some thirty years later, David felt compelled to reconnect with the RSA. He co-founded the RSA-US Southeast regional network, served on the RSA Fellowship Council, became a US Trustee and now serves as RSA-US President. He is working with Seren Page Bailey, also an RSA prize-winner, to introduce a US Student Design Award Competition. They both recognize the importance of encouraging young professionals, especially during these economically difficult times.
Investing in the next generation not only accelerates individual careers, but it can also bring innovation to benefit society much sooner. If that sounds idealistic, just think that Sir Jonathan Ive, Senior VP of Industrial Design at Apple and mentioned by Matthew in the previous post below this one, was the recipient of two RSA student design awards; like David and Seren, Jonathan acknowledges the difference that recognition made to his career development. The RSA now offers paid internships in London and continues to recognize emerging talent in a number of different ways, investing in our collective futures. Here in the US, we welcome Fellows’ help as we set up similar programs, beginning with the proposed US Student Design Awardsand the next generation of once and future Fellows!
Lynn Broadbent is Fellowship Director for US networks – follow her @LynnUSA