Tag Archives: Demystifying Leadership

Choose To Challenge – Meet the Women of FMS: Catherine Exley

The theme of International Women’s Day this year was #ChooseToChallenge. Here in FMS, we believe strongly in challenging gendered assumptions on working in science. It’s important to celebrate the hard working & powerful women leading our department, who set an example every day of just how much women are capable of. To all fellow women scientists out there: remember to celebrate yourselves everyday!

The second interview in our #ChooseToChallenge series is with Catherine Exley, Dean of NU Population Health Sciences Institute. Enjoy!

A photo of Catherine Exley, Dean of NU Population Health Sciences Institute.

Please describe your role.

I am Dean of NU Population Health Sciences Institute, one of the three new Institutes formed in November 2019 as a result of the Good to Great faculty reorganisation. My role means I am responsible for an institute which comprises 236 colleagues and 165 postgraduate researcher students. We are a multidisciplinary community comprising colleagues from a range of clinical and academic disciplines who contribute to learning and teaching across all schools in FMS as well as leading and collaborating on a diverse body of research. In addition to my head of academic unit role, I am also responsible for the faculty’s Engagement and Place portfolio, and work closely with Tom Scharf, Katharine Rogers and Charlie Wilkinson and the broader university engagement team to ensure that the brilliant work we do in FMS is captured and celebrated. Finally, I also chair the University’s Health and Well-Being committee; this a real privilege to chair and the committee has been active throughout the pandemic providing support and guidance.

What would a normal day look like for you?

This is a difficult question to answer at this point, and even when I was on campus every day, I don’t think there was a ‘normal’ day. I tend to get up about 6-6.30 during the working week, I read the BBC news, switch on the radio and check my email and diary for the day. We have recently (like many families!) bought a puppy, so our day now starts with walking her on the beach. In addition, the morning routine involves ensuring my son is up and ready for school (early mornings aren’t his thing!), probably throwing a load of washing in the machine and thinking about what everyone is going to eat throughout the day!

The great thing about my role is that each day is so varied, bringing its own joy and problems. The one thing that is pretty consistent is that I have a lot of meetings and receive a lot of emails. With my ‘Dean hat’ on, the meetings I attend can be university, faculty or institute level or 1:1 with colleagues. I work particularly closely with our Institute Operations team which comprises both PS and academic colleagues who have worked really hard ‘behind the scenes’ to keep our institute working in these challenging times. I also have regular catch ups with our Executive who lead a number of our faculty research themes as well as meeting with our EDI and DELT and PGRSC. With my ‘Cath hat’ on I continue to be involved in both research and teaching, in particular I have a number of postgraduate students I supervise, which remains one of the best things about my job. It really is a privilege to work with these colleagues and (hopefully) support them in their academic journey to achieve their PhDs. I am also involved with a number of mentoring schemes across the faculty and university and have regular catch-up with those colleagues too.

The other thing that is consistent and normal in any day is that I walk as much as I can. I live by the coast and I love walking by the sea. This is my ‘head space’ and time for me whether that’s clearing my head over lunch time, or at the end of a day of Zooms. In the last six months, I have tried to consciously switch off from work email in the evening. I’ve even moved the app on my phone so I can’t accidently access it! I am not an owl, so after some food and a bit of television to wind down (often a food-based programme) it’s off to bed for me usually by 10.30.

How have you found a balance between work and homelife during Covid?

When you’re asked a question like this, it’s really hard to answer as I know that I have not had the challenges many people have had during this time.  As I have worked from home the odd day for many years, I am I am very fortunate that I was able to adjust relatively easily to working at home.

I live with my husband and (nearly) 15 year old son, and latterly our 5 month old puppy! During the last year we have all been at home for quite a lot of the time, apart from when the schools were open to non-essential workers. By and large we have rubbed along OK. My husband has found lockdowns much easier than me as he is happy with his spreadsheets!  I miss people. I miss social contact. I miss the informality of just bumping into colleagues and being able to ‘check things out’ rather than have to schedule a formal meeting. Home schooling is nowhere near the challenge for me has it has been for many of my colleagues who have younger children at home. But I still worry about the short and long-term impacts of all of this on my son (and indeed all children and young people). What has been hard is the ‘blurred boundaries’ between home and work. When I go into the campus I focus entirely on my work and have a much higher level of concentration. At home, even though we are a small family there are always additional things to think about, washing to do, meals to think about, or questions to respond to. I think working in this way for a prolonged period has been really tiring and draining for all of us   Hopefully by the time we are celebrating IWD2021 many more children will be returning to the classroom!

What does it mean to you being a woman in your role?

Again, this is a hard question to answer. I never set out with a career plan to be an academic, let alone have any kind of leadership role. I am the eldest of three girls and the first person in my family to go to university. My father is a farmer and my mother a teacher, both of them are retired now. Whilst neither of them would see themselves as feminists, growing up I never had any sense that I couldn’t achieve whatever I wanted to (although I had no idea what that meant!).

At school I had planned to do a law degree, but actually went to university and started a degree in social sciences, before transferring to single honours Sociology. As an undergraduate I was inspired by one of my tutors who was living through breast cancer treatment, and focussed my dissertation on looking at hers, and other women’s experiences, of health and health care and how these were shaped by gender. I never planned to do a PhD, but was fortunate to be awarded some internal funding to cover my fees and a partial stipend which I supplemented with teaching. Women were a big part of my PhD as I interviewed younger people receiving care at a local hospice about their experiences of living with a terminal condition. In the mid 1990s many of those I interviewed were women with advanced breast and ovarian cancer. Nearly 25 years later those women and their stories stay with me, and I remain grateful to them all for giving up their very precious time to speak to a naïve researcher.

In 2003, I moved to Newcastle as a Lecturer and since this time I have been fortunate to work with many inspirational colleagues, both women and men, who have supported and encouraged me throughout my career. I try to emulate what I have learnt from many of those brilliant colleagues, mentors and friends. I hope I am open and honest. I don’t always get things right and like everyone there are times when I wake at night worrying about things. However, being an academic is just one part of my world and whilst I may not be the best at any one thing and make mistakes, I am proud of what I have achieved thus far as a daughter, sister, partner, friend, mum and academic.

A huge thank you to Catherine for taking the time to talk to us.

Newcastle University is committed to developing careers for all colleagues, with some great success stories of women who have developed full and rewarding careers across the institution.  Historically we have supported specific women into leadership programmes such as the Aurora programme and the Women in academia – coaching and mentoring (WiCAM) programme in collaboration with Durham University, alongside broader coaching and mentoring opportunities.  As part of the university commitment to this agenda, work is currently underway to review our development offerings with a view to launching a refreshed offer in the autumn to ensure we have the right support in place.

Choose to challenge – Meet THE WOMEN OF FMS: Amy reeve

Today is International Women’s Day 2021! The theme this year is #ChooseToChallenge. Here in FMS, we believe strongly in challenging gendered assumptions on working in science. It’s important to celebrate the hard working & powerful women leading our department, who set an example every day of just how much women are capable of. To all fellow women scientists out there: remember to celebrate you today and everyday!

On that note, starting today, we will be releasing a series of blog posts spotlighting our female leaders as the role models they are. This first interview is with Amy Reeve, research fellow within the Translational and Clinical Research Institute, and co-director of EDI within FMS. Enjoy!

A photo of Amy Reeve, research fellow and co-director of EDI within FMS.

Please describe your role.

I am a research fellow within the Translational and Clinical Research Institute. I lead a small research team whose focus is on furthering our understanding of the causes of Parkinson’s with an aim to identify new neuroprotective treatments for this disease. I am also one of the Co-Directors of EDI for the Faculty of Medical Sciences with Dr. Damian Parry.

What would a normal day look like for you?

It depends on the day!

Every day starts with time with my son, I drop him off at nursery and then start my work day.

On my research days I touch base with my students and Post-doc providing support and guidance when needed. I then usually do some experiments, typically cell culture or tissue based. Then I spend some time reading and writing, papers and grants mostly. When I have time I also like to take part in public engagement events.

On my EDI days, I catch up with our core FMS EDI team, chair and sit in on meetings, and work to support any initiatives or ongoing projects, for example the Athena Swan Action Plan or the Race Equality Charter work.

Then I pick up my son and catch up on the highs and lows of pre-school life. Cue lots of drama!

If I have a heavy work load I might then do a couple of hours when he is in bed before starting it all again the next day.

How have you found a balance between work and homelife during Covid?

Finding a work life balance is something that I have always struggled with and COVID has certainly made this feel more difficult. A balance implies that both these aspects make the same demands on your time, but unfortunately this is not the case. My son never emails me out of ‘mum hours’, or expects me to take hours out of my work day to complete a Lego project or read his latest story. The pandemic has been a struggle for many, and at times I have found it played to my anxieties about being a successful researcher while having enough time for my son. During the first lockdown when nurseries were closed, I did find it tough maintaining a balance as I had to devote more time to being a mum, I worried about my work outputs and about what the impact would be long term. I worked into the evenings and over weekends to ‘make up the hours’. However, on reflection in many ways I am grateful for those extra days I got to spend with my son, the milestones I got to share with him and the fun we had. I still worry about my work outputs but I have realised that there are somethings that are not worth compromising!

My work life balance has improved, as I now make more effort to separate work and home, I don’t check emails during the evening or over the weekend. Although, I do make sure that my team have my mobile number in case of emergencies. I am also trying to be more realistic about what I can achieve in a working week and I am working on my delegation skills!!

What does it mean to you being a woman in your role?

I fell into research a little bit, being a researcher was not my dream. I wanted to be an archaeologist or a vet! When I was at University though I became fascinated by the brain and how it worked. So when I found an advert for a PhD that aimed to understand what made it go wrong I was hooked!! I am proud to be a woman in STEM research, I am proud that we are making a difference. I am grateful for the women, the pioneers, who went before me for lighting the way and I hope that one day I will guide the way for other women.

As for my EDI role, I am humbled to be able to be a part of a team who strives for the equality of all within FMS. I am immensely proud to have been given the opportunity to enact change within FMS and to ensure that the voices of all are heard across the faculty and beyond.

A huge thank you to Amy for taking the time to talk to us.

Newcastle University is committed to developing careers for all colleagues, with some great success stories of women who have developed full and rewarding careers across the institution.  Historically we have supported specific women into leadership programmes such as the Aurora programme and the Women in academia – coaching and mentoring (WiCAM) programme in collaboration with Durham University, alongside broader coaching and mentoring opportunities.  As part of the university commitment to this agenda, work is currently underway to review our development offerings with a view to launching a refreshed offer in the autumn to ensure we have the right support in place.

Demystifying Leadership: Deputy Dean of Undergraduate Studies (Ruth Valentine)

Our previous student intern, Georgia Spencer, interviewed Dr Ruth Valentine as part of our Demystifying Leadership blog series to learn all about what the role of Deputy Dean of Undergraduate Studies entails.

What are your main responsibilities in your role?

I’m the Deputy Dean of Undergraduate Studies, meaning I support the Dean of Undergraduate Studies in shaping, developing, and enhancing the Undergraduate programme in FMS.

The most important part of my job is quality assurance, meaning I must ensure the programmes that we deliver are of the standard that they should be. A large part of my role is also strategic; developing new programmes, making decisions, and leading projects, so I often need to approach tasks with a business head. I also work with the learning and teaching staff to ensure a culture in which they feel fully supported and recognised.

The Deputy Dean position is my second role, and has been somewhat of an add on to my other job within the School of Dental Science. There, my research is in nutrient gene interactions, with a specific focus on zinc and fluoride.

What does an average day look like for you?

As I’m sure many others in roles such as these have said, there just isn’t an average day. As I essentially have two roles, my days are a mix of both, which has been difficult. I try to do two days a week in the Faculty Office, but I’m often juggling my commitments in each area.

Since stepping into the role, I’ve dropped some of my research, and officially I now just do teaching and scholarships, I’ve found that my responsibilities as Deputy Dean of Undergraduate Studies fit better with teaching than research. However, I do still feel like I do research, as my role is often like market research; investigating how to develop a great program through methods such as student surveys and reviews.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I love this role as it allows me to have influence at a University level, not just in Dentistry. I’m very passionate about widening participation and inspiring the next generation, and as Deputy Dean of Undergraduate Studies, I have been able to push for this across the whole Faculty. For example, considering how take home exams will work for those without internet access at home, and how the University can help to fund trips. I feel very proud of this and our widening participation numbers.

I also like that I’m able to check everything and be very thorough. I can look across the whole Faculty and see how certain areas can be improved. I can make sure I’m questioning everything, and asking the right questions, such as why we’re assessing students in a certain way, or if they like it. I find this really interesting, as I can be inquisitive about everything. The job also gives me a real sense of satisfaction when new programmes I’ve helped design are rolled out to students.

What do you feel you get out of your role?

Firstly, I feel like it gives me a platform to fight for the students and ensure that they’re being prioritised. I love that we can support them through schemes such as the Intu Scheme, for students who aren’t quite ready. This means we never have to compromise the quality of our degree programmes, and can be proud that they’re really good, but we can still give extra support to the students who need it to make sure everything is still fair.

What do you think is your biggest achievement in your role?

In the long term, I feel that championing widening participation and helping to eradicate the elitist attitude that has existed in Universities historically has been my biggest achievement, simply because I feel so strongly that this is very important. My role has given me a bigger arena to make a difference, which is such a special position to be in.

I’ve also loved introducing a new program, Dietetics, which starts in 2020. I feel that I got it through the Faculty and got it to the place where the DPD can create a fantastic course. It will be in the new building, with new kitchens and sensory booths, which is just great.

What made you want to apply for the role?

When I applied, I was doing an Associate Postgraduate Taught role and really wanted to learn more about Undergraduate, as well as expanding my influence to create change. Really, I just saw this role as a progression from my Postgraduate Taught role. As Deputy Undergraduate Dean, I still look after the quality assurance of Postgraduate Taught, so I continue have elements of my old job incorporated into this one.

Before I applied, I chatted informally with the Dean of Undergraduate Studies about the role and how it would impact my career development, which gave me a clearer view of whether the position was right for me. I was also helped to apply by my close colleagues. They encouraged me, supported me, and gave me the confidence to put my name forward.

Have you had any prior leadership roles or training opportunities that helped prepare you for this role?

I did the Leadership Foundation Programme for the Directors of Excellence in Learning and Teaching, where I found out a lot more about leadership. I was then put forward for the Academic Leaders Programme by the Faculty, which was a programme run in cooperation between Durham and Newcastle. I found this programme really helpful; especially elements such as the 360 feedback, and the small leadership sessions on coaching, which was a really useful technique that I’ve used since. I also was able to make valuable links with people in other Faculties and at Durham, including more senior people who were able to advise me. I also had mentorship from NU Women when I first took on my prior role.

In my interview for my previous role, I had to do a five-minute presentation about my vision for the role. No prompts. No PowerPoint. But I’d say this was a great learning experience, as it helped to show me that I can speak up and champion causes.

What have you learnt since starting your role?

I think a key thing its taught me is that I’m more of a strategy person and I don’t want to manage people so much. This has helped to confirm for me that I’m in the right role and on the right path. I’ve also reduced my research, which I never would’ve seen myself doing three or four years ago. This has really helped shape the direction of my career.

My position has also given me a lot of insight into the wider University as a whole. I never realised when I applied that I’d be involved with Kings Gate, for example. It’s allowed me to branch out and make a difference both across other Faculties, as well as externally at a national level.

What have you found more challenging in your role?

I’ve found time management difficult, because I’ve tried to do it all. But I’ve learnt from this that you simply can’t. Something has to give; you can’t do it all. But I feel like I’ve got the balance right now. I’ve accepted my own capabilities and I let go of my previous admissions responsibilities, which has given me more time. I’ve gained more confidence in saying no and have learnt to delegate.

I initially dreaded working on appeals. But I’ve learnt that I’m not that bad at them, and I’m proud that I’ve shown others and myself that I can do it.

How do you balance the role with your other commitments?

With two small children, it’s been important to have a really good attitude towards work-life balance. Even though no academic role is 9-5, really good time management during the day, as well as delegating to others, has helped give me my evenings with my family. I’m also very strict on not checking emails during holidays and there’s very little travel involved in my role, other than the occasional conference in London.

My line manager has also been very aware and very understanding of my family commitments. For example, with the University Education Committee which starts at 8am, she’s very understanding if I’m not able to get there for it. Sometimes, you just have to decide you’re spending time with your family.

When it comes to my family, my husband is very supportive, and we share everything completely. I’d like to be a good role model to my daughter by being successful in my career while balancing it with my outside commitments.

Thank you to Ruth Valentine for taking the time to speak to us about her role! We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the roles and responsibilities involved in being Deputy Dean of Undergraduate Studies (and a special thank you to Georgia for giving us such a wonderful series!).

Demystifying Leadership: New Director of EDI (Simon Forrest)

A few months ago, we published the first blog in our Demystifying Leadership Series, in which Professor Candy Rowe chatted to us about what her role as Faculty Director of EDI had been like, to help potential replacements decide whether it was the leadership role for them.

And it worked! 

We are pleased to introduce our new Faculty Director of EDI, Professor Simon Forrest! Have a read of his Q&A to get to know a bit more about him, why he applied for the role, and what he’s most looking forward to:

Tell us a bit about your background. What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?

Like a lot of academic careers, mine sounds like a series of wise choices when I tell in from where I am now. But, in truth, it has largely been about a combination of luck, when opportunity has spoken to my passions.

I began as a professional musician and got very interested in the sociology of health because of the advent of HIV/Aids, and the way that changes in sexual attitudes, behaviours and culture that came about because of that, and the way they were represented in the ‘pop’ culture of which I was part. I met and got involved in very early community responses to HIV through peer education with young people, and the mobilisation of gay men and MSM. That evolved into 30 years of work on sex, sexualities, gender and sexual health.

I am still engaged in advocacy, which often feeds my research, but also some more sedate pastimes, such as bee-keeping.

How did you first become interested in EDI? What are some of the aspects of EDI you are most passionate about?

I can’t imagine how anyone can be involved in the social aspects of sex, sexualities, gender and health and not have EDI running through their work.

I have seen the way that public policy has failed people and also then worked to improve people’s lives. I have seen and, I hope, been part of influencing great positive changes in the recognition sexual diversity, in seeing that the greatest threats to people sexual health and wellbeing are often about failure to provide that and promote respect and equality. What I’ve learnt is EDI is about listening; hearing and making sure we give voice those who get left behind or are disadvantaged by social attitudes, policy or organisations – mobilising their potential to change things for the better for everyone.

What drew you to the position of Director of EDI for FMS?

It’s very simple – FMS is a natural champion of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.

All our contributions are about making everyone’s lives better, healthier, and happier. We have the opportunity, especially because of the values of the NHS and our other stake-holders, to put that at the heart of what we do. Who wouldn’t want to be able to contribute to that?

What has been your favourite thing about the role so far?

Finding my feet with the fantastic EDI team, both within FMS and across the University, hearing people being so honest about the challenges in their work and lives, and the energy right across the Faculty, from top to bottom, to effect real culture change so that it heartbeats with EDI.

What are the main things you hope to achieve in the role? Tell us what you’re most excited to get involved with?

To continue the amazing work done so far, and to see that recognised in further external recognition and accreditation.

I want to be an advocate, to empower, and mobilise the skills and expertise in the Faculty and our wider community, and to enjoy the debate, discussion, planning, and work we can do together.

What aspects of being FMS’ Director of EDI do you anticipate will be most challenging? What previous learning experiences do you think have helped prepare you to take on these challenges?

Universities are complex places and knowing how the system works and how to make the system work can be a challenge. I think I have had a lot of experience now and know something about we go about creating transparent and effective structures that support EDI.

What do you hope to learn through the role?

No day goes by when one doesn’t learn something about oneself and other people.

Universities are all about conversations and because I might see students or staff, do some engagement work with our community, and much more in a typical day, there’s always going to be a conversation out there which will make me think. It might be someone asking me a question I don’t know the answer to (that’s very common) or telling me something amazing about their lives that makes me stop and think.

Thank you so much to Simon for giving us a bit of insight into himself and how he’s feeling about his new role. We can’t wait to see all that you do as Faculty Director of EDI.

Demystifying Leadership: Head of the School of Psychology (Gwyneth Doherty-Sneddon)

As part of our Demystifying Leadership blog series, we’ve chatted to staff in a variety of leadership positions across the Faculty. To help you find out more about what a Head of School role might be like, I spoke to Professor Gwyneth Doherty-Sneddon about her job as Head of the School of Psychology in FMS.

What are your main responsibilities in your role?

I lead and manage the School of Psychology. My role is quite diverse, but it primarily focuses on the learning and teaching experience. I work with approximately 35 academic members of staff (whom I manage directly) and about 11 or 12 admin staff to run and deliver a number of Undergraduate, Postgraduate Taught and Professional Training programmes under the School of Psychology.

What does an average day look like for you?

I don’t think there is an average day, to be quite honest. The largest amount of my time is spent strategically, making sure our School’s teaching plan is on track, and working with external organisations to ensure we have the right partnerships in place and that we’re developing new professional placements for students.

Another important part of my role is the leadership and mentoring of staff (academics, in particular). I review their personal development and manage any day-to-day issues, as well as the relationships between them. Due to the School’s recent growth in student numbers, I’m also often shortlisting or interviewing new academics to teach.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I particularly enjoy the mentoring of staff. Since beginning working with them, I’ve seen a number of them be very successful and receive promotions on the basis of learning and teaching. This makes me particularly happy, as it shows the University values the learning and teaching advancement process.

Additionally, as I know my staff very well, I’m able to look strategically at the School to find projects that would be well-suited to the skill set of a certain staff member. So, to then see them flourish in that project makes me very happy.

What made you want to apply for the role?

At the time, I was an associate Dean for Research at Faculty-level in another institution, where I managed research across a diverse range of disciplines. I had been looking to get back into my own discipline again, so this leadership role was perfect, and I’ve really enjoyed being back in Psychology. I also knew the University wanted this School to grow, so I was excited that there was real opportunity to make a lot of big changes.

What do you think is your biggest achievement so far in your role?

As a result of our growth as a School, the University has invested in a state-of-the-art learning and teaching space within a new building. It will include specialised teaching spaces, such as a forensic laboratory and a psychological therapies clinic. It will be a fantastic environment for all our students and staff.

I feel these new resources are a symbol of our recent success and the University’s belief and trust in me.

What learning opportunities have been available to you in your role?

In much of my career previous to this role, I’ve had to learn on the job, through trial and error, which has been a massive challenge. But within this role, I have done a senior leadership course, which was quite useful, and also a mentoring course, where I did learn a lot, even about myself.

Have you been supported by colleagues, mentors or training opportunities?

I feel extremely supported by the University and the Faculty, and there are some very approachable people with real integrity here. The PVC has been very willing to listen and develop strategic plans. I couldn’t have grown the School to in such a way had the University not resourced more academic posts and invested in a new building for us. This makes me feel as though I’ve been listened to and I’ve been trusted to drive this growth.

The previous Undergraduate Dean (Jane Calvert) has also been fantastic and she was my go-to person when I needed a sounding board. The Heads of other Units also provide peer support and we regularly talk and share advice. Finally, I get a lot of day-to-day support from my colleagues in my school, with whom I have very good relationships and are always there to help with whatever I need.

What has your role taught you about yourself?

My current role has taught me how good I am with people. In my previous job, I was trying to manage 400 people and was never able to get to know them as individuals. So, at Newcastle, I’ve had the chance to realise that I work very well with individuals when I can get to know them, and that I am able to bring out the best in people.

However, management also often involves some very difficult conversations, and I’ve learnt that I can handle this. I’ve become good at knowing exactly when you must put your own emotions aside and how to always maintain my objectivity in tricky situations.

What have you found more challenging in your role?

The diversity of things I have to deal with on a daily basis. We’re a complicated School with 8 Undergraduate programmes (previously we had just 1, when I started). Several of our Postgraduate programmes also involve quite complicated relationships with external organisations such as the NHS, so dealing with the changes in these organisations can be very tricky.

How do you balance the role with your research and/or external commitments (families, hobbies etc.)?

I’m not doing very much research now. I do some through PhD students, but this is importantly their research and not mine. However, I was aware of this when I took the role; it was a very deliberate move for me and I felt it was right for this stage in my career. I do also still do some teaching. In the autumn semester I teach on some of the Masters and Undergraduate courses, and I supervise some of their projects.

In respect to balancing my work with my home life, it’s all about flexibility. I feel I’m getting better at it as my children are getting older. When they were younger I had to work very flexibly and bring them into the office, and also worked at home and in the evenings. So now, by being able to work more in the office, it allows me a better balance and to keep home life more separate. As a School, we’ve agreed to restrict emailing hours, to control the quantity of email traffic being sent in the evenings and weekends. This is something I feel I’ve learnt from my own experiences, which will improve people’s work life balance in the future.

What advice would you give to your successor?

I would tell them to always value and get to know your staff, and to be flexible with them. For the School to flourish, you must get the best out of each member of staff, and this is often done by being willing to be flexible in terms of work-life balance. You can never have a firm rule, you must always do things on an individual basis.

Additionally, I would emphasise to never allow hierarchy within the team from junior to more senior members of staff. Everyone is equal and is respected. As long as they are doing their job to the best of their ability and helping to drive the School forward then I am happy.

Thank you to Gwyneth Doherty-Sneddon for chatting to us about her role! We hope this has given you an insight into what being Head of a School might be like!