Office Manager, Department Safety Officer
Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences (NDPCHS)
Tell us a bit about your role
As an Office Manager and Safety Officer, I am responsible for the efficient and safe running of the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences offices located across Radcliffe Primary Care, Gibson Building and Eagle House. I joined the Department in April 2012 as reception/admin assistant. After 16 years of retail managerial experience, 2 years of admin experience in a higher education role and becoming a single parent after divorce, I saw this post as an amazing opportunity to further demonstrate and develop my admin skills as well as a chance to start afresh into a completely new environment that the University of Oxford provides. Furthermore, I am originally from Venezuela and although I had already been living in England for 10 years, joining the Department was a big step for me considering the limitations I used to encounter from having English as a second language.
I was encouraged by my line manager to experience different roles within the department such as assisting the HR officer with the recruitment process, PA for Dr Valderas and Prof Chris Butler, assisting with a partial office move and then managing the office at Hythe Bridge Street. I was also given the opportunity to organise small events for the department such as staff’s leaving dos, The Queen’s special Jubilee coffee break party, staff Baby showers, retirement celebrations and dinners at University colleges. By April 2013 I was officially appointed as a PA and Admin Assistant. This became a fantastic opportunity for me to find my feet in academia and to learn from the best.
By February 2014, my second child was born. I returned from maternity leave in September 2014 and I am pleased to say that I not only was allowed to work flexible time but also got appointed after applying for a newly created full-time Office Manager role by November 2014. As I see it, my role is not limited to my job description. There is always something to learn and contribute. Thus since May 2018 I became a Chair of the Athena SWAN - (Better Workplace) ‘Wellbeing’ Working Group. The remit of the group is to raise awareness of the support available for staff and students in terms of Occupational Health, Equality and Diversity, Mental Health First Aiders alongside wellbeing related workshops and activities taking place within the Department and across the University.
My role fits into the wider landscape of the Medical Sciences as it contributes towards promoting and developing a working, learning and social environment which supports all staff and students in reaching their full potential. For example, by facilitating team building exercises such as the weekly Coffee break. My role is to ensure that every member feels welcomed and that every detail is taking into account to support staff with disabilities in a dignified way. From the operational perspective by delivering solutions to every admin or logistic challenge with a can do attitude.
What is the most meaningful aspect of your work?
The most meaningful aspect of my work is to be able to lighten up the day of my colleagues and create good memories for all. I take pride on being able to support every admin and logistic request with a ‘can do attitude’ as well as being able to provide emotional support to my colleagues during challenging times. Sometimes little things like solving a printing issue or helping out making beverages at the very last minute for a meeting can make a big difference.
Can you tell us about something you've done, contributed to that you're most proud of?
I am very proud of having completed an undergraduate Social Psychology (1st class Honours) degree which has equipped me with skills and knowledge to identify gaps in the provision the department had for colleagues returning from maternity leave. For instance, we didn’t have a private room equipped with suitable facilities for colleagues who needed to breast pump and refrigerate the milk. Therefore, with the support of the wellbeing team and our senior academic champion, I managed to set up a private room at Gibson building that is suitable for mums returning to work, praying and as a safe space for people to relax.
What changes would you most like to see in the Medical Sciences in the next 100 years?
I would like to see a more diverse representation in senior roles: BAME, LGBT and openly neurodivergent.