Ruth Lawton , 45
Job advertised in The THES , January 17 2003
University of Central England in Birmingham
Head of Careers
£32,000 - £35,000 per annum
Ruth Lawton has been in careers for 17 years, having worked for Doncaster local authority before joining the University of Central England in 1991.
She became acting head of careers in August 2002 while Sally Westney, then director of student services, reviewed provision. When the job came up, she and other internal candidates applied. Lawton says: "I had six months working as a careers adviser and acting head. By that time, Sally had got to know the team and our work."
Westney, now pro vice-chancellor, says: "Ruth was successful for several reasons: her lively and engaging presentation, her theoretical knowledge about employability and how this related to higher education, and her passion."
Lawton says: "I was made chair of the student progress files committee, which has been hard work. Every student has to have a file by 2005-06.
We're piloting a version in three faculties before going university-wide."
The expansion of the annual graduate destinations survey to include all students - full and part time - is a headache, Lawton says. "The questionnaire is also more complex. My vice-chancellor, Peter Knight, has taken up our cause. He's asking, 'What is the point of a full-scale survey - why not take a sample survey?'" The careers team has expanded to cope with the extra work.
Lawton says: "The careers service is in the middle of university policy right now - we're doing a lot of training, influencing staff to embed skills in the curriculum."
The downside is the workload. Lawton became rundown and ill. "It's a long-hours culture, and I'd not got out of the habit of doing two jobs. I have to learn to let things go."