Head of Administration and Finance
Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics (DPAG)
Tell us a bit About your role
I first came to the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics (DPAG) as a Physiological Sciences undergraduate and my tutor at St Anne’s College was the most inspiring and wonderful woman: Marianne Fillenz, whose work is commemorated in DPAG through an annual named lecture. After graduating, I trained as a chartered accountant, spending several years in practice and then moving to roles in the pharmaceutical and telecoms sectors. Then I moved back to Oxford and applied for a job in central University administration, where I held a succession of roles over 14 years. Most recently, I ran the University’s Internal Audit. I was delighted to move back to DPAG in early 2020.
I am responsible for all of the professional services staff that provide the infrastructure for the department’s research and teaching activities. My job is to make sure the team is working together in support of the department’s strategy, and I support the Head of Department in developing that strategy, giving him the tools he needs to lead the department. My overarching aim is to secure a stable and sustainable operational and financial position for the department long-term, and thus enable its research and teaching mission.
I am one of a community of Heads of Administration in the Medical Sciences Division. Each of our departments contributes its unique research and teaching to the wider divisional landscape, and each has their own local issues and priorities.
What is the most meaningful aspect of your work?
The department provides a platform for brilliant research and teaching and sometimes – not always – I can unlock something operational that makes it easier for that mission to go more smoothly. This might be really simple, like finding some space to allow a group to operate productively while managing their social distancing, and helping them move their things. Or it might be much more complex, like navigating tricky HR issues, or supporting someone in looking for good options for them as they approach the end of their contract. We are in a challenging financial position and we occupy a set of buildings that struggle to accommodate modern science, so I can’t fix everything. But I do find enormous reward in problem-solving with my marvellous teams to make life in DPAG just a bit easier.
Can you tell us about something you’ve done, contributed to that you’re most proud of?
I’m a proud of how we safely wound down our activity in March 2020 due to COVID-19, and opened promptly in June with structures and processes in place to protect each other. The department has pulled together in a really impressive way and it’s been so good to see that we can operate safely and that research and teaching can go on. It’s hard though, and everyone is under strain. But people continue to look out for each other and act generously towards their colleagues, and they feel safe coming to work, and that’s great to see.
What changes would you most like to see in the Medical Sciences in the next 100 years?
The Medical Sciences Division will continue to play a leading role in tackling global challenges of disease and inequality and the list of its achievements will continue to grow. I hope that as it does so it reflects the diversity, values and the character of everyone who works here and the communities they call home. I look forward to really global interconnected research and partnerships with industry and government and I’d love to see some of the administrative hurdles made easier to clear.