Elected Staff Member of Court (Professional Services)
Tell us about your role at the University.
My day job involves looking after both strategic planning and our Project Management Office. However, the focus here is on my new role as an elected member of the University Court after formally taking up post on 1 November 2023, having been nominated by peers within Professional Services during the summer.
I’ve just attended my first meeting as a member and I recognise that it will be a very challenging role – reflecting the challenges we now face as a sector and as a University, but also the challenges we consequentially face at a more personal level as staff; the very people who put me in this position, and who make and drive the organisation. On that basis, I wanted to make sure I am as visible as I can be as a Court member, hence this entry today!
How do you usually start your day?
My day normally starts in a state of immediate and extreme stress, with a cocker spaniel spinning around in circles, barking at me for kibbles, and my daughter demanding breakfast and cartoons (I keep trying to insist on books, but it doesn’t seem to work!). The next hour generally tends to be one of unmitigated chaos, often extended by having to do the school run; the primary school playground at 8:45am is another unforgiving attack on the senses. And then, after that’s done, a sense of calm will tend to take hold, as I make my way to work via the local coffee shop. At work, I like to start with a round of morning greetings to friends and colleagues within the vicinity, before having another coffee (a double) as I set to work in earnest, maybe clearing emails as best I can, before focusing on whatever substantive task happens to be at hand.
What brought you to the University of Aberdeen?
I joined the University back in the golden summer of 2000 as a student; the Red Hot Chilli Peppers (Californication) and Eminem (The Marshal Mathers LP) were riding high in the charts at around that time and life was bereft of any meaningful responsibility - everything seemed inconsequential, fun and easy. I graduated four years and many hangovers later with an undergraduate degree in Politics and International Relations and, after completing a master’s degree at Strathclyde, I returned to the University on a temporary, four-week contract. And here I am, still here nearly two decades on. Suffice to say that there have been highs and lows – plenty of both – but on balance I think it’s a great place to work, full of great people and I enjoy it.
What’s your favourite thing about your job?
In terms of Court membership, it’s too early to say. However, my favourite thing about the opportunity is the chance to serve and to try making a positive difference in whatever way I can, on behalf of the organisation and, in turn, my colleagues. And while obviously I’d much prefer that we were in a healthier financial position, both as a University and more broadly as a sector, our current position only adds onus to the sense of responsibility.
What are your work priorities at the moment?
Within the context of Court, the priorities are manifold. First, I need to acclimatise to how Court works - both formally and informally - and I need to do it quickly, learning on the job. Thankfully there has been a lot of support with that to this point. I also need to make sure I absorb as much information as I can on where we are as a sector and as University, how and why we got to where we are, and then in turn, how we can move forward successfully. And I want to do that with as much positive and constructive energy as a can, recognising that we are all on the same team, all pushing, and working hard every day to deliver the success we deserve – as an organisation, and as the people who make and drive the organisation, at every level. I also want to make sure I’m contactable for discussion - on issues that are appropriate to, or relevant at the level of Court. It will also help me to be more effective in my role, so if you want to chat, please feel free to get in touch.
How do you like to relax outside work?
I have a six year old daughter who has no comprehension of relaxation – and I can’t remember how it worked before she completely took over… sorry, uh, became the focal point in my life. But when possible I like to go for a run, walk, do some cross-fit, read and maybe treat myself to the odd coffee (it’s an addiction)!
28 November 2023