What is your higher education history?
I began my career in higher education during my PhD studies, as a teaching and research assistant and also working on the library issue desk at the University of Exeter. During this time I developed a strong passion for higher education and the huge potential to transform lives through learning opportunities and research.
I was very happy and proud to join UWE Bristol in 2008, attracted by the University’s ethos and clear commitment to widening participation and inspiring future generations. My first role at UWE was as a Policy Support Officer in our Planning and BI team.
What does your current role and remit encompass?
As Chief of Staff and Clerk to the Board of Governors / Head of Policy and Strategy I am responsible for a number of areas including the development and communication of university strategy, overseeing the University’s strategic planning process, horizon scanning and policy analysis, governance and management arrangements, business resilience and risk management. I also provide independent strategic and procedural advice, both to the Vice-Chancellor and to the Board of Governors.
What does a typical day look like for you in your role?
One aspect of the role that I love is that the days are never the same! There is so much scope to keep learning, whether that is through new problems to solve or working with talented and creative colleagues to continuously improve our learning and working environment. For example, I am very proud to have been closely involved in the development of the University’s recently launched Mental Wealth First Strategy. We are also looking ahead to our 2030 strategy, so it is an exciting time thinking through what the University could be like in 10-20 years time.
My role gives me broad exposure to issues and developments right across the University and externally, chairing or contributing to meetings or working groups, or providing advice and working through issues on a 1:1 basis.
What do you find most enjoyable and/or challenging in your role?
It is great being part of a vibrant University that is creating such a positive impact for society and the economy. This is a huge motivator and I am very lucky to see so much of this due to the role that I am in. Bristol is also such a dynamic city. Developing our 2030 strategy is very much about the shared potential and success of the city-region and the University.
I really value the opportunity to think creatively, to challenge and to work with and learn from enthusiastic and talented people.
What are the current challenges for your institution?
As we look ahead to 2030, there are a number of areas we are engaging with, including the pace of change in technology and the opportunities this presents for our learning and working environments. Working through these opportunities, what the expectations of our future students could be and how they will engage with us has a real impact on what we do now. Making sure that we are best placed to seize future opportunities and supporting our staff on this journey, so they can continue to thrive in a changing environment, is really important.
What do you think are the biggest changes ahead for higher education?
The higher education sector continues to operate in a changing environment. As we look ahead we can see the impact of political priorities, but also the significance of global trends and changing expectations.
Who has inspired you and why?
I take inspiration from so many different places! Our students who have such a diverse range of experiences, are full of potential, and achieve huge success; our researchers who are pushing the boundaries and creating new knowledge or applying it in new and innovative ways; our lecturers full of energy and passion for their subject areas. Universities are full of people making a real difference to lives and future possibilities – it is such an inspiring place to be!
I am also very lucky to have three young children who inspire me every day, they certainly help me in thinking about the future!