Claire Atkins, 32
School of Ocean and Earth Science
Southampton Oceanography Centre
Job advertised in The Times Higher , June 6 2003
A desire to get back to her Hampshire roots was behind Claire Atkins' decision to leave Derby University Business School, where she was office manager. Atkins and her husband are ex-Navy, so the prospect of a south-coast base in a School of Ocean and Earth Science appealed.
"It was an ideal opportunity to relocate. Derby was restructuring and so was Southampton University. I was asked to become acting registrar at New College to help amalgamate its full-time courses into new schools and do the handover."
Atkins' contract was coming to an end when the School of Ocean and Earth Science advertised for a manager. This was a new post to oversee administration, clerical staff, quality assurance procedures and liaise with the centre.
Alan Kemp, school head, says: "We got a strong response to the advert.
People were mostly in school manager positions or had been in other parts of university administration. Claire had the advantage of having been a manager and had the dynamism to do the job in what is a large school."
Atkins, who started last October, says the main challenge has been learning the systems and processes of an old university.
"I had worked only in new universities, and the Business School was different, so it is a steep learning curve."
Her naval background helped. Kemp says: "It means she clearly understands our requirements - for example, for boat work. It's nice having someone who understands the nautical scene without being seasick."