Background in hospitality a bonus

May 20, 2005

Name: David Tobin

Age: 40

Job: Office manager, international office, Aston University

Salary: Academic-related grade 2

What is your background? I was educated in Ireland, where I completed my intermediate and leaving certificates. I went straight into employment but started an Open University humanities degree in history and music in 1998, graduating this June. I worked for many years as a front-office manager in the hospitality industry and worked at Birmingham University in admissions and the international office.

What are your working hours and conditions? Officially 36.5 hours a week.

We don't operate an official flexitime system but we are a pretty flexible team.

How many staff do you manage/work with? I manage a team of two but work closely with three other members of the international office.

What has been your biggest challenge/bugbear this year? I am relatively new to my role at Aston so the biggest challenge is adapting to the environment. My biggest bugbear is applicants' overreliance on printed literature. It surprises me that people still need a paper copy in their hands to be able to make a decision. I don't think students appreciate the cost of producing printed items, the amount of waste they generate and the speed at which they date.

How do you solve it? I refer most inquiries to our website.

What has been your worst moment in university life? Having irate parents or upset applicants on the telephone at results time in August. We try to give applicants what they want, but sometimes if they don't have the grades it can be difficult. We always look for alternative options on allied courses.

What is your working space like? An open-plan, fairly small office on the second floor of a modern campus building - at this moment surrounded by cherry trees in full bloom.

What university facilities do you use? The pool or gym daily, the library occasionally and the food outlets most days.

Who have been your most difficult customers/clients? I cannot recall many truly difficult people but sometimes all one's skills in diplomacy and tact are called for. I usually find that listening and making a clear effort to get things done reduces most people's hostility.

Do you interact with other parts of the university? Yes. I couldn't do my job without help from staff inside and outside of our team.

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