Richard Blackwell, 45.
Hefce - Regional Consultant for the South East
Job advertised in The THES , February 21 2003
The Higher Education Funding Council for England has eight regional consultants who liaise with universities, colleges and other organisations.
Hefce contracted ARC, a recruitment agency, to sift the 80 or so applications for the Southeast post, interview them and draw up a shortlist.
A Hefce team discussed ARC's conclusions to ensure that they had not excluded people.
Steve Egan, director of finance and corporate resources, chaired two further interview panels. "We generally look to get a combination of people with different experiences," he says. "They can come from inside or outside higher education or the region. It's a high-salary job, but it's demanding and requires knowledge and interpersonal skills."
Applying was a logical career step for Richard Blackwell, who was working for the Learning and Teaching Support Network. "I have a broad remit. I cover an area around London and the Thames estuary that extends northwest of the M1, but the borders are fluid and I liaise with other regional consultants."
Although Blackwell is based in London, he travels to the Hefce headquarters in Bristol on Mondays, stays overnight in a hotel and spends Tuesday in the office.
"The transfer went surprisingly smoothly - with the caveat that I'm renting while I find my feet. I had to sell up in Nottingham, and I banked the money. Hefce does not have a relocation package. Anyone taking up a job has to look carefully at their finances."
He likes the Hefce culture. "It is the opposite of what people imagine - open, non-hierarchical and committed to training in a way that's pretty unusual."