From a database to a bouillabaisse

May 6, 2005

Name: Annette Babchuk

Age: Would love to say 30s but have to admit to 40s.

Job: Head of alumni relations, Manchester University.

Salary: Hmm, like everyone else at the moment - waiting for the outcome of the pay and grading review.

What is your practical training/education/background? After achieving various administrative qualifications, I worked in a number of roles at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology in external relations, primarily in the schools and colleges liaison office and in the international office. I worked part time for five years after my two children were born and, during this time, studied with the Open University on a BSc Hons degree in psychology. In 1995 I became alumni officer at Umist, becoming head of alumni relations in 2001. Following the merger with the Victoria University of Manchester in 2004, I became head of alumni relations for the new institution.

What are your working hours and conditions? My hours are flexible as many of my meetings are with alumni outside usual business hours. I travel overseas a couple of times of year - this year I have visited Singapore, Malaysia and Greece.

How many staff do you manage/work with? My team in the alumni relations office consists of five staff. We work closely with the university's communications and external relations division and with colleagues in various faculties and schools.

What has been your biggest challenge/bugbear this year? Our biggest challenge has been to merge Manchester University and Umist alumni databases. This gave us 180,000 graduates. We are now able to establish a new programme of events for our alumni - the part of the job I enjoy most.

What has been your worst moment in university life? When alumna Sophie Grigson, celebrity cook, agreed to present a demonstration to show students how to eat well on a budget. There was a look of horror on our safety officer's face at the prospect of this taking place in a 500-seat lecture hall.

What is your office space like? A lovely listed building with huge windows that overlook the main quadrangle.

What university facilities do you use? We have a fabulous aquatics centre built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games five minutes from my office.

Manchester alumni wishing to update their contact details should visit www.manchester.ac.uk/alumni

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