I’m here to get companies interested in the University – whether to collaborate with us on research, to employ our graduates, or to do business with us.
A huge part of my role as Pro-Vice Chancellor for Business and International Development is about driving up student opportunities - for placements, for enterprise, entrepreneurship and graduate schemes, and for their future employment. I work closely with the careers and employment team to make sure our students get the best support and advice, so that they are highly employable, and with the enterprise and entrepreneurship team to support our graduates looking to start up businesses. Innovation and creativity are graduate attributes we promote and value highly here at Herts.
I also have an international focus, developing opportunities for our students to study abroad, or for overseas students to come to us, or to develop Herts programmes that can be delivered by other institutions across the world. This is of course a commercial activity, but there’s a benefit beyond the financial as our international links offer our students global opportunities, and having international students here at Hatfield enhances the student experience for everyone.
With another hat on I lead on marketing and communications, which means attracting interest in and growing the reputation of Herts. I make sure we are known for the excellent teaching and learning we offer – we’re TEF Gold! – as well as for our research excellence. We want talented students to study here and innovative, exciting companies to do business with us, which means putting ourselves on the map locally, nationally and internationally.
In many ways my job is highly commercial – the key difference to doing this role in industry is that I am delivering results for our students, not shareholders, and the end benefit I’m seeking might not necessarily be financial. Although that’s important, the goal is often about putting Herts at the centre of something inspiring and engaging so that we get the best possible outcome for our students. I certainly bring a commercial determination to win a tender or contract so that Herts students benefit. I get tremendous satisfaction when we win a great partnership with a company or business that I know will really benefit the University.
My commercial background and experience of industry underpins my enthusiasm. I was working in industry and wanted to do an MBA which is when I discovered how much I loved studying. I found it fascinating to see how learning can change your life in ways you can’t predict. I was invited to do some part-time teaching and loved that too, spending 14 years in Hertfordshire Business School here, developing teaching and learning programmes and then becoming Dean of the School. Coming back into the business side of the University has been like coming full circle.
Although I bring a commercial awareness to my role, I think to call our students ‘customers’ is to debase what they are. We work in partnership with our students to co-create their education, to ensure as graduates they are fit for tomorrow’s world. We equip our students to be creative and adaptive so that five or 10 years from leaving us they are still benefiting from the skills they learned here - and that’s what makes us different.