What does the role involves
My role here is quite eclectic even if the title sounds quite standard. One moment I might be clearing out space for an office move, the next moment sitting in a meeting with college SLT about space strategy or community engagement. It’s not really a traditional role that you might see elsewhere, but that’s fine as the whole organisation is still developing and evolving after a period of uncertainty and my role is as well. I’d like to think of it as a hybrid role! In essence, I manage the commercial team managers to make sure our offer is right for our membership. I also work with the sport and activity coordinators to support their work with student leaders. Our Welcome Desk functions also sit in my world, as does HR and any facilities, IT and building management. Plus I support the Chief Exec and the Officers as part of the Senior Leadership Team. As I said it’s quite eclectic…
What’s the best thing about it?
You never quite know what’s going to happen, the variation is a positive. That and you genuinely get a nice warm fuzzy feeling when you achieve something as a team that benefits a large group of people or we complete a project that’s been quite challenging. The emotional high you get after a stressful, but rewarding fresher’s week as a team, is something I genuinely enjoy.
How did you get here?
I suppose I am what you would call, non-traditional entry. I didn’t go to University and started working in public sector leisure after leaving school, firstly as a lifeguard, then a Duty Manager, but ending up as an Operations / Centre manager. That then took me in to the fitness centre at KCLSU / Student Association way back in 2008. Through a very rewarding but at the same time bizarre journey, I ended up creating and developing the four KCLSU / Student Association Student Centres (now KCLSU / Student Association Hubs) around KCL’s campuses with my gym team, as well as running the fitness facility, as well as managing the Fresher’s period that year…so it was good training! I then randomly ended up as “Head of Student Development” (I applied for the job and was successful, they didn’t just give it to me!) in 2013 which I believe is now called Head of Community Engagement and Opportunities. I then got asked to go to Goldsmiths SU / Student Association on a secondment in June 2016 as Director of Engagement, and that turned in to me staying here from May 2017 as their full time Director of Operations and Commercial Development. I think that’s what happened anyway…
What’s was the most helpful piece of learning you picked up along the way?
You can’t do anything without an engaged and motivated staff team. It doesn’t matter if you’re working in a SU / Student Association or a council leisure centre. You can have the most beautiful new building in the world or the best strategy and data, but if you haven’t got a happy and dedicated staff team to work in it or on it, you may as well shut the doors. If you want to do the best you can for students, make sure you are doing the best for your staff.