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My SDF Story with Hiren Vyas

Where do you work and what is your role?

I am the Learning and Organisational Development Lead at the University of Westminster.

When did you join the SDF?

Approx 10 years ago – I joined when I was working at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Why did you want to join the SDF?

In the beginning, it was out of curiosity to see what it was all about. Then, it became a great place to network and see what was happening in various institutions. The support and knowledge out there is invaluable.

What’s the best thing about the SDF?

Having a platform to engage with colleagues in a supportive space. It’s also reassuring to see we all go through the same stuff at different times, and 9 out of 10 times, there’s an answer available.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve just stepped into a newish role as of last month, so my priorities are changing. I lead the Performance Development Review process – so I am in the thick of facilitation/reporting as I write this. I’m also working on pieces around onboarding/induction and team events.

What does a typical day look like?

I’m a person who appreciates routine, so it starts with a workout (aka School run) and then a coffee to get me in the zone. Thereafter, it’s a mix of emails, meetings, and lots of randomness – with time to focus on specific projects in between. Oh yes, and a second workout around 3.00 pm …!

Tell us about an event that altered the course of your life/and career.

I can’t think of one, so let’s go with – Perspective. To summarise, my own failures – big and medium ones! It’s not about what happened or the result (ok, I lie at the start, it does, and it’s not a nice feeling), but it has more to do with how you reflect and learn from it. Do you look back and see it as a museum of failures or a gallery of trying? I’ve just learnt to turn the glass upside down, get messy and appreciate the learning within the process.

The person who has influenced you the most is

Sorry, I changed it to persons. I must shout out to my managers along the way – Doug Parkin, Theresa Mellon, Margaret Bentley, Dimple Hirani and Pela Mashumba. I’ve got all the time in the world for you and all my amazing colleagues.

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

What is work-life balance? I have two young kids and two jobs, funnily enough. Job 1: Parent, full-time, no set hours. Job 2: UoW, full time, set hours – when I log off from Job 2, where I interact with adults, Job 2 kicks in, and I’m dealing with my little people…. which one is easier, you ask? Hah! I love to play football, which I do weekly, and I have lots of cuddles with my little people; both are great for the heart.

Something about you people would find surprising.

It’s not that surprising, but I love to cook. As a vegetarian, I love using meat-free alternatives to recreate certain dishes. I’m no Atul Kochhar, but once I figure out my signature dish, you’re all invited for a taste test.

What’s your greatest fear?

Not enough time with loved ones.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

I’ll need a couple of big tables. We start with the Boss – Mikel Arteta, David Raya, Ben White, Bukayo Saka…the whole Arsenal team, and back-room staff.

Table 2 would be full of some of my favourite music artists; we’re talking Chip, P-money, JME, Wiley, Ed Sheeran, Notorious BIG, Tupac…too many to name. I might need my superpower to make this happen!

What would your super-power be?

Time travel!!

What’s your favourite/least favourite food?

Indian Street food – there are too many to name! I’m also a sucker for (any) cake! My least favourite food is Camembert.

What’s the worst job you ever had?

I once took on a temp role, setting up network and tech for a school. My colleagues were a good bunch, unlike management, who didn’t treat us very well. Fun memories looking back – the power of great colleagues!

What thing would improve the quality of your life?

My superpower, more sun and world peace. Not asking for too much, am I!?

What’s coming next for you?

Embedding myself into my new role. Hopefully, there will be lots of upskilling, OD adventures along the way, and internal and external collaborations.