Where do you work and what is your role?
I work at the University of Aberdeen as the Staff Development Partner. The role is varied but mainly involves ensuring that we have learning and development opportunities in place for all staff with regards to professional workplace skills including Leadership and Management, Coaching and Mentoring.
When did you join the SDF?
I joined the SDF almost immediately after I had started my job at the University in February 2019
Why did you want to join the SDF?
Having previously worked in the Charity sector in a similar role I’ve always valued the sharing of experiences, practice and networking with like-minded people and being new to HE the Forum was great to start to discover the landscape with colleagues in other Universities.
What’s the best thing about the SDF?
I think the willingness and enthusiasm of colleagues to share their ideas and experiences, both positive and negative really helps when you just need to ask a question. We are a small team so it’s like having lots of other colleagues to call upon when you need someone else’s input. Just to have people who know exactly what you are facing in your role is really helpful when you are looking for advice. Also, having the opportunity to Chair the SIG in Advancing Women’s Leadership has been a great experience and I feel I am finally finding my feet and hopefully enabling people to come together to discuss relevant subjects and also learning a lot from others on the way!
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I am involved in the delivery of a new Middle Management development programme with the objective of creating modules in key areas of management for our Professional services and Academic Line Managers. We are hoping that a modular approach will enable them to identify gaps in their knowledge and address these with the subjects on offer. I am also working on a Tender for our International Leadership Development Programme starting in June and a review of our Annual Review. As well as all the day to day stuff!
What does a typical day look like?
A typical day mainly involves a fair bit of admin and depending on where I am at in the delivery of our ILM accredited courses it is dealing with Learners, delivering Tutorials and marking. I might also be doing some Coaching or Mentoring and working with colleagues on bespoke projects. It sounds a bit of a cliché but no two days really are the same but this is what makes the job interesting.
Tell us about an event that altered the course of your life/and career
I think moving to Brussels after University and meeting my husband there has had a significant influence on where we eventually ended up living and working. I had never really planned to move back to the UK but knew his academic career would always be the deciding factor as I was much more flexible. So, the first job he applied for was at the University of Aberdeen and we moved here for that and I worked elsewhere for a number of years in Learning and Development and eventually moved to the University when I saw there was an opportunity.
The person who has influenced you the most is
This is difficult as I find myself influenced by lots of different people and for different reasons depending on the situation. In general people who are genuinely authentic, demonstrate integrity and empathy are those who always brighten my day and restore faith in humanity!
Work life balance – what leisure activity you enjoy the most?
Aside from spending time with friends and family, I like to be creative and seeing the end product of something I have made. Lockdown introduced me to embroidery and sewing as I find this satisfying and takes me away from the real word whilst I concentrate on something different for a change of mindset.
Something about you people would find surprising
Possibly not a surprise given it is one of the most feared activities but despite over 20 years of delivering training face to face, I still get really nervous speaking in front of people and I think I always will!
What’s your greatest fear?
Depending on the kind of day I am having it could be something catastrophic or the shop running out of teabags!
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
David Attenborough, Jacinda Ardern and the guys from the Last Leg!
What would your super-power be?
Making my cat like me!
What’s your favourite/least favourite food?
Favourite – anything sweet least – cooked celery
What’s the worst job you ever had?
When I was 15 I had a Saturday job in a café and the owner used to make me scrape the cream from the cakes the day before and whip it up again – which I didn’t have a clue how to do this to the right consistency. Whilst doing this one day she came over and started shouting at me for not doing it properly and actually started smacking me!! So when she had gone I planned my escape out of the back door and ran as fast as I could to my friend who was working in a nearby shoe shop and told her all about it!!
What thing would improve the quality of your life?
Being more organised!
What’s coming next for you?
There will be more involvement in strategic leadership development this year and looking at our Annual Review which will no doubt have wider implications on succession planning and career ‘pathways’ etc so some fairly significant projects to deliver this year!