Posted: Friday, 3rd February 2012
It’s often a cliché to say that any individual can be described as one of a kind, but in the case of Alan Pulford who sadly died recently it is fair to say that the he was truly a unique individual and will be greatly missed by his family and those who were fortunate enough to have worked and studied with Alan during his time at MMU.
After graduating with a 1st in Chemistry from Cardiff University and initial careers’ working with Royal Dutch Shell and with Price Waterhouse as a management consultant, Alan commenced his educational career here at Manchester Metropolitan University, previously the Polytechnic. As a Principal Lecturer in Marketing Alan embodied the epitome of what we would now call a practising academic, as he effectively combined his teaching with a range of consultancy roles with leading regional advertising and market research agencies. Alan was a director of Broughton Jacques market research agency I Manchester for a number of years and together with his extensive experience gained with Shell and Price Waterhouse gained a reputation as a highly effective teacher and marketing academic.
In 1992 Alan was appointed as a senior examiner for the Chartered Institute of Marketing in the field of marketing communications a position he held for several years. Such was Alan’s reputation as an educator and major influence in the field of marketing education that during this time, Manchester Business School approached him to help develop and deliver a senior managers programme for IBM which was to be delivered across Europe and the Middle East. Furthermore he was also appointed as the first Course Director for the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s own senior management programme which operated successfully out of Manchester from between 1992 and 2004.
In addition Alan was further successful in leading a consortium of Universities in securing a £1m grant through HEFCE to develop a suite of CD based marketing courses. The project which was a forerunner to the emergence of e-learning as we now currently know it, was further evidence of Alan’s unique ability to have the foresight to engage with the challenges that technology was posing to traditional educational methods. The company is still operational within MMU and is now known as MMC Learning which is widely recognised as being at the forefront of e-learning within the marketing field.
During his time at MMU Alan was extremely active in ensuring that MMU stayed at the forefront of marketing education at a regional and national level and was the primary driving force in establishing the links between the University and Chartered Institute of Marketing. The launch of the Universities own postgraduate Marketing courses in 1992 established MMU as one of the leading providers of marketing education in the UK.
Throughout his career in education Alan has undoubtedly been an inspiration to students and staff alike and none more so than Jonathan Mildenhall, the VP of Coca-Cola and alumnus of MMU who credits Alan with having inspired him to pursue his own career in advertising. Indeed one of Alan’s great characteristics was his ability to devote and invest time in people, helping to encourage, motivate and support all those who sought his guidance, knowledge and wisdom. Above all Alan possessed energy fortitude and commitment to take on whatever challenges came his way in life and to do so with remarkable calmness and grace.
Diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1994, Alan may have been forgiven for taking a more leisurely approach to life, but for those who knew him, it came as no surprise that he fought his illness in the same inimitable manner with which he confronted many of the challenges that life threw at him. Indeed he didn’t fully announce the extent his illness until 2004, a good 10 years after being diagnosed. This again was testament to Alan’s character, his strength and resilience to continue life as normal and not be beaten by his progressive illness.
Indeed Alan continued for several years with a workload which would have daunted the more able bodied, and did so without a mention of the illness which had so cruelly struck him down. However after having handed over much of his work and despite his illness, he switched his attention to focus his energies on working tirelessly for the Parkinson’s Society and was integral in helping to raise funds to recruit two additional fully trained nurses for the Parkinson’s society in the NW region. He became an active member of his regional society and helped to raise the profile of the work of the Parkinson’s society at a national level, in particular the national conference which Alan orchestrated for a number of years.
Alan will be fondly remembered by all of those who knew him and each will have their own story as to how their own lives have been influenced and enriched for having known and worked alongside him. In the final few years Alan displayed remarkable courage, strength of spirit and character to fight against his illness whilst continuing to make a full and active contribution to life and to those around him. He was indeed a truly remarkable character.
Peter Betts, prinicipal lecturer, MMU Business School.