Warrior poses are best not shared

September 9, 2005

Name : John Scally

Age : 44

Job : Director of university collections, Edinburgh University.

Salary : Low rung on band 6

What is your background? First degree in English and history at Strathclyde University and a PhD in history at Cambridge University. Loads of jobs from killing chickens in a factory in Amsterdam to being a psychiatric nurse.

What are your working hours? Too many, up to 55 per week. Today is a holiday and I am writing something to meet a crazy deadline - this questionnaire is called a displacement activity. Conditions are generally good, though. There's a buzz about the place: students keep you young and academics keep you on your toes. How many staff and students do you work with? I do not formally teach, but I do give seminars and talks. I manage about 65 people.

What has been your biggest challenge this year? I've just restructured most of my areas. My biggest bugbear is money (not enough, and not enough control over what I have).

What has been your worst moment in university life? I gave a talk to staff in the special collections department in the library about restructuring.

It seemed to go well but one key member of staff looked perplexed. I had missed her out of the new structure, simply because I had cut and pasted my notes too quickly and not checked. I made a grovelling apology. She's a star, and has never mentioned it.

What is your office like? Pretty good considering the itty-bitty spaces colleagues inhabit.

Which university facilities do you use? There is a canteen in the library basement and a staffroom but the sports facilities are too far away. I prefer running and yoga, which I do outside university. Doing the warrior pose next to a gently perspiring colleague is not my idea of fun.

Do you socialise with people at the university? I have two young kids, so that limits my options, though some would say it is because I have "nae mates".

What is your best excuse for bad behaviour? I'm a West Coaster (from Paisley), so we do things differently. I sometimes say the wrong thing and mishear what people say. Generally, if I behave badly I admit it, apologise and move on.

Do you interact much with other parts of the university? Yes, I often find myself involved with colleagues from all sorts of areas, from pathology to English literature.

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