Balancing the stick and the carrot

July 6, 2007

Name : Sheelagh Hill

Job : Head of staff development, Brunel University.

Salary : As "academic-related", I am waiting to find out in August.

Practical training/education : After qualifying as a teacher, I taught right through the education system: primary, secondary and adult education (including pre-school and special educational needs), and wrote three books before moving into higher education, largely as a result of doing an MA in education followed by the opportunity, provided by the university at which I worked, to do an MBA.

Working hours and conditions : Each year I resolve to work regular hours, but once again I am admiring the summer evenings from the office window.

Number of staff you manage : There are six in the staff development unit (two part-time).

Biggest challenge : Encouraging academic engagement in training, particularly the mandatory equal opportunities type. It receives excellent feedback once people attend the workshops, but it is not their first choice on how to spend time in a busy day.

How you solved it : We try to balance the stick and the carrot.

Worst moment in university life : I was very sad when my role was redefined three years ago to exclude teaching after a lifetime of working with students. However, I discovered the joys of the month of June. Previously it had been obliterated by marking, but it is a wonderful month for gardening when exam marking is no longer part of your life.

What is your office like? My unit has been relocated six times in 12 years so I keep my rucksack packed. The current office is unbearably hot, with constant building noise, so I am hoping for another move soon.

What university facilities do you use? I am membership secretary of the senior common room, which is a wonderful university resource. I network most lunchtimes by catching up with colleagues from other areas of the university. I have learnt about many things and had many engaging conversations on matters that would not have impacted on my world through any other route (sadly, that sometimes includes football).

Do you socialise with people at the university? I live outside Henley but many colleagues live in London, so there is little opportunity to meet out of work.

Do you interact much with other parts of the university? We have about 3,000 staff and I probably know, or have some knowledge of, 2,000 of them.

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