Head of Operations and Improvement
Nuffield Department of Medicine (NDM)
Tell us a bit About your role
My current position as Head of Operations and Improvement has evolved over the past 18 years of working at Oxford University.
My post-school years began with 2 years at catering college, which continued when I studied Hotel, Catering and Institutional Operations at Oxford Polytechnic. My working life began at The Oxford Moat House Hotel as the Financial Controller.
After taking a seven year career break when I had my two children, I began working in NDM at Oxford University in July 2002. My first role was Accounts Manager in the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics. As the activity and estate increased, and with a new Head of Department, Professor Peter Ratcliffe (now Sir), the NDM Strategic team was formed in October 2006, and I took on the role of Operations Projects Manager. My role evolved in to the Head of Operations for NDM, providing strategic support to the Associate Head of Department and managing several large new initiatives and projects across NDMs administrative support teams. In 2015, I was offered a secondment opportunity as the Chief Operating Officer for the NDM Thailand unit in Bangkok. This was a huge challenge in terms of relocating to live and work 6,000 miles away from home, but the role was very similar to my existing one, and I embraced the challenge and took my Oxford insight overseas.
After 3 years, I returned to the UK in April 2018, and after some significant work/life balance obstacles, I applied to re-join the NDM Strategic team as Head of Operations and Improvement for NDM.
In the wider landscape of the Medical Sciences, my role is key to communication and understanding of broader projects that may impact on day-to-day departmental operations. My background and experience can support programmes of change management, and I am involved in several central and divisional initiatives.
What is the most meaningful aspect of your work?
Having the ability to develop strong working relationships, and understand the complex differences in the way people like to be managed and communicate, helps to sustain the meaningfulness of my role.
Can you tell us about something you’ve done, contributed to that you’re most proud of?
Recognising the need for succession planning in administrative roles led to the creation of the Trainee Unit Administrator role for NDM, which provided opportunities for post holders to develop a breadth of skills across the various functions required to manage a large research department at Oxford. We are now looking to develop this in to a formal graduate scheme. I am dedicated to raising the profile of the importance of administration roles, and how they are imperative to the successful delivery of world leading research impacts.
What changes would you most like to see in the Medical Sciences in the next 100 years?
If we look back at the changes, discoveries and achievements in Medical Sciences over the past 100 years, if we have even half as many again in the next 100 years, it will be amazing. Clear prioritisation of research goals and aims are needed to ensure continuation of successful impacts.
In the world of research administration at Oxford, I’d like to see better cross communication between departments so that resources are better managed and reduce the duplicated efforts that are currently exhausting existing staff.