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My SDF Story with Michelle Taylor

Michelle Taylor

Where do you work and what is your role?

I work at Durham University and I’m currently an Organisation Development Business Partner.

When did you join the SDF?

I joined the SDF about 10 years ago, shortly after starting my role with Durham University as an Equality and Diversity Officer and Trainer (as I was back then).

Why did you want to join the SDF?

I was recommended to join by my manager and I felt it was very clearly a great opportunity to connect with other HEIs and colleagues, to share best practices, and to learn from the wealth of experience that exists. I have benefitted from the networking, forums, sharing of information, resources, and experiences. It has been invaluable in helping to shape my thinking.

What are you working on at the moment?

Currently I have two key strands to my role. I have strategic oversight of our Learning Management System (Oracle Learning) which requires some caretaking as it receives regular updates and development and we are always looking to maximise our use of it, and along with this I help in co-ordinating our approach to mandatory training at the University. The second strand of my role focuses on digital capabilities, particularly for professional staff at the University, and we have a project underway which is looking to help individuals and teams develop and improve their digital confidence. 

What does a typical day look like?

I’m not sure a typical day really exists anymore! A typical week, however, will involve multiple meetings (I’m certain everyone can relate to that), briefing/ training communications sessions with internal ‘customers’, definitely a lot of troubleshooting of issues that arise from the system, creating or updating materials and resources, reviewing actions, and planning ahead to take actions forwards etc. It is really varied which keeps the role interesting. Although every day is busy, I always make time to have a break in the middle of the day and, weather permitting, this involves a lunch time walk.

Which person has influenced you the most?

In the March edition, Amanda Elikowski answered this question with two people, her parents, and I’d like to do the exact same thing. My parents have always been hard working, resilient, and inspiring individuals and I count myself lucky every day to still have them both around. They are fantastic people who I enjoy spending time with and they have always supported and encouraged me.

Work life balance – what leisure activity you enjoy the most?

I’ve already mentioned my lunchtime walk on working days, so walking is certainly one of my key leisure activities. I also attend a dance class on Saturdays, and pretty much weekly go to the cinema as I Iove the escapism of a good action film or thriller. I also really appreciate the chance to travel, both in the UK and abroad. I don’t take that for granted anymore.

What’s your greatest fear?

I don’t really have one. Sorry!

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Firstly, a top chef as I do not cook – I do like Matt Tebbutt from Saturday Kitchen! I know this may seem a bit unusual but my first guest choice would have to be Sylvester Stallone – look up his back story, and it should hopefully make sense. I have loved the music of Queen since being a teenager so if the possibility existed then Freddie would be my other choice. And finally, I’d like to have a chat with Tom Cruise, so he would be invited too.

What would your super-power be?

The ability to teleport (if I can take at least one other person with me). Imagine being able to just port over to New Zealand, watch the sunrise over the Niagara Falls, or pop up at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. No more airport queues… fabulous!

What’s your favourite/least favourite food?

I like a lot of food… my “go to” for eating out would be either Chinese or Thai fusion or it would be Italian. Least favourite… anything that falls under ‘Offal’. I mean the clue is right there… offal!

What’s the worst job you ever had?

When I was in my late teens, I was asked to help at a clothing factory due to a big rush order. I was helping to press shirts and then to package them on this giant machine. It was summer and it was super-hot and I realised very quickly that 5 days of this job was quite enough to last me for a lifetime. I’ve never really known what I wanted to do as my ‘career’, but I sure knew then at least one thing I didn’t want to do. Good learning experience!

What thing would improve the quality of your life?

Finding a way to stop being so tired all the time. 

What’s coming next for you?

I’m actually moving to a completely new role at the University very soon. I’m taking up a position in our Computing and Information Services department. The role will involve leading and coordinating testing teams and providing direction, advice and guidance for the development and testing of IT systems and applications. I’m happy that my skills in training, learning and development will no doubt stand me in good stead for this new adventure.