Flexible hours and marital bliss

August 10, 2007

Name: John Siderov

Age: Getting on but not there yet

Job: Head of optometry and opthalmic dispensing at Anglia Ruskin University.

Salary: Same as age.

Background/ training: First degree in optometry followed by an MSc from the University of Melbourne; PhD in physiological optics from the University of Houston; post-doctoral fellowship in visual neuroscience at the Montreal Neurological Hospital.

Working hours and conditions: I try to maintain a flexible approach to working, which can often mean late nights and working odd hours. On the other hand, this approach also allows me to take the kids to school and see them more often than I would otherwise.

Teaching and management: I teach classes in ocular disease and binocular vision to students in optometry and supervise research students. I am also responsible for managing 18 members of academic staff, dealing with external examiners, recruitment issues, regulatory body issues, attending faculty meetings and dealing with any other issue that nobody else will deal with.

Biggest challenge: The demands of the regulatory bodies on professional courses such as optometry and ophthalmic dispensing have increased dramatically over the past few years.

How you solved it: I am still working on it.

Worst moment in university life: Contemplating leaving the academy after a period of frustration with bureaucracy and being overworked. I stayed on and eventually found myself as head of department. From the frying pan into the fire!

What is your office space like? I have the designated square metreage with a pleasant outlook, although it tends to get hot early in the summer.

What university facilities do you use? The refectory and cafe. I also use the newly refurbished library, which is great.

Do you socialise with people at work? Yes. Being married to a fellow member of the university helps in this regard.

Who are the most difficult people you deal with? Individuals who feel that they should not or will not contribute to the greater good.

Best excuse for bad behaviour: I once had a student claim mitigation for poor performance in an examination due to the "anxiety" resulting from a broken prophylactic 45 minutes before the exam. I did not ask for supporting evidence.

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