Long lunch, then back in the saddle

January 6, 2006

Name: Jenny Swan Age: 37

Job: Office assistant, development and alumni office, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.

Salary: About £14,000

Practical training: Information technology courses, mainly in Excel and Access. I used to work for a company that made digital maps and did surveying and photogrammetry.

Working hours and conditions: I work 9 to 5 most days but there are odd occasions when evening or weekend working is required. We are allowed one and a half hours for lunch and we have fantastic grounds so it is a great place to get out and about and go for a walk or bike ride.

Number of people you work with: There are four full-time staff in our office, but we employ casual student labour to help us with mailing campaigns and updating databases.

Biggest challenge this year: The gala dinner to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Watt Club (our alumni association). It took an amazing amount of work and was organised a year in advance.

How you solved it: Everybody working together. The 250 or so guests seemed to really enjoy it.

Worst moment in university life: Nothing to speak of so far, although if we had missed a guest for the gala dinner it would have been extremely embarrassing.

What is your working space is like? It can be noisy, but we look out onto a lovely grassy wooded area where we get all sorts of wildlife so I'm not complaining.

What university facilities do you use? I use the Microbyte (a self-service restaurant) and the students' association shop, and go to the sports centre daily.

Do you socialise with people at the university? Not very often. We sometimes have an office lunch out, in the students' union or in Scholars' Restaurant.

Who are the most difficult people you deal with professionally? Most of the people I deal with are helpful and enthusiastic about their work and the university.

Best excuses for bad behaviour you have heard: Most people are very well behaved!

Do you interact much with other parts of the university? We have quite a lot of interaction with the schools, mainly to do with the dispersal of scholarships and alumni fund grants. Our office is part of a wider section, corporate affairs and management services, which includes the principal's office and the archive.

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