Personal Assistant

Durham, United Kingdom
£22,417 - £25,941 per annum
Thursday, 15 April 2021
End of advertisement period
Thursday, 6 May 2021
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Vice-Chancellor's Office

Grade 5: - £22,417 - £25,941 per annum
Fixed Term - Full Time
Contract Duration: 2 years
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Closing Date: 06-May-2021, 6:59:00 AM 

Job Family: Business Process and People Services

OUR CHARACTERISTICS: We are welcoming, collegiate and inclusive.

OUR VALUES: We are motivated, inquisitive, challenging, rigorous and innovative.

Durham University

Durham University is one of the world's top universities with strengths across the Arts and Humanities, Sciences and Social Sciences. We are home to some of the most talented scholars and researchers from around the world who are tackling global issues and making a difference to people's lives.

The University sits in a beautiful historic city where it shares ownership of a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Durham Cathedral, the greatest Romanesque building in Western Europe. A collegiate University, Durham recruits outstanding students from across the world and offers an unmatched wider student experience.

Durham University seeks to promote and maintain an inclusive and supportive environment for work and study that assists all members of our University community to reach their full potential. Diversity brings strength and we welcome applications from across the international, national and regional communities that we work with and serve.

It is expected that all staff within the University:

  • Contribute to our learning culture by engaging in mentoring, training and coaching.
  • Positively contribute to fostering a collegial environment; as well as demonstrating commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.
  • Have due regard to Health and Safety requirements appropriate to grade and role.

Family key attributes

Roles in this family provide a comprehensive service and deliver the efficient administration and governance of the University.

Overall family purpose

  • Deliver direct and indirect services to stakeholders.
  • Provide advice and answer queries as part of an enquiry-desk/help-desk function.
  • Respond to and manage requests for information and resources.
  • Deliver services to meet regulatory requirements and procedures.
  • Plan and deliver a joined-up approach to University business and people services.
  • Align business processes and services to meet operational and strategic policy objectives. 
  • Deliver business processes to ensure effective management, governance and the economic viability of the University.
  • Encourage, collaborate and participate in the development of productive cross-institution relationships and working.
  • Provide excellent professional services that meet strategic and operational goals and business needs.
  • Carry out monitoring, analysis, development and planning to design new services and service updates for continuous improvement whilst meeting changes in regulations.
  • Engage with specialist professionals, consultants, and suppliers to exchange knowledge and facilitate partnership working.
  • Work collaboratively and network across the University with staff in other families to ensure a smooth, timely and high-quality delivery of service.
  • Align and deliver programmes and activities to meet operational and strategic objectives to enhance the stakeholder experience.
  • Engage and encourage participation with external professionals, schools, alumni and donors.

Link to key strategic plan

  • An economically sustainable approach to delivering Professional Services across the University;
  • A joined-up approach to University professional services, regardless of location or line management;
  • A culture and practice of continuous improvement;
  • Design services that meet business need;
  • A stakeholder-focused orientation, offering satisfying careers to all staff;
  • Support and facilitate programmes that offer intellectual challenge, cohesiveness and a strong sense of progression;
  • Ensure that an increasingly diverse workforce is treated equally, fairly and with respect, and that all staff are demonstrably valued and actively engaged.

Job Family: Business Process and People Services
Job Title: Personal Assistant to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)
Department: Provost’s Office
Responsible to: PVC/EDI & EA/DVC & Provost
Grade: Grade 5
Salary range: £22,417 - £25,941
Contract type: Fixed Term for 2 years
Working arrangements: Full-time /  Mon-Fri / 9am-5pm
Closing date: TBC
Interview date: (if known) TBC

The Department and role purpose    

The Executive Office sits at the heart of the University’s administration, providing high-level administrative support to members of the senior leadership team, including the Vice-Chancellor, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost, Pro-Vice-Chancellor’s and other members of the University Executive Committee (UEC).

Reporting to the Executive Assistant to the DVC & Provost on an operational level, the post holder will provide confidential and comprehensive personal assistant support, including project support, to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI).  The post holder may also be required to provide a first-class PA service to more than one member of the Executive in this capacity, dependent upon requirements.

Core responsibilities:

  • Experienced Executive PA practitioner without responsibility for team members.
  • Plan and organise own workload taking responsibility for day to day decision making within their own area of responsibility for operational aspects of service delivery.
  • Specialist support with problem solving and query handling.
  • Responds to, and is proactive with, stakeholder needs, adapting service to meet these needs and to deliver and shape an excellent stakeholder experience.
  • Contribute to collaborative decision making within the wider division to deliver an excellent stakeholder experience in accordance with policy and procedures.
  • Work collaboratively across the organisation and/or externally with colleagues and stakeholders to deliver an excellent service.
  • Provide guidance and advice to resolve problems and queries for a broad range of service users.
  • Lead organisation of stakeholder activities and events, including developing, planning and delivering internal and external events and activities.
  • Identify priorities and monitor processes and activities to ensure success.
  • Analyse work activities to ensure the effective and efficient use of capital and consumable equipment and resources.
  • Manage EDI financial and budget records and reconcile expenditure queries.
  • Involvement in the purchase and return of goods and services.
  • Support the capture of business requirements from stakeholders and translate these into recommendations for future service provision.
  • Build relationships and network internally and possibly externally to grow knowledge and skills. Advise others and make recommendations into work processes and procedures for consideration by senior management to improve services.

Role responsibilities:

  • Organise and manage professional executive PA services to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) to ensure the effective and efficient running of the EDI Unit and its business processes and systems, including, complex diary and e-mail management.
    • Use a wide-range of digital tools to produce high quality service and documents such as reports, presentations and stakeholder information dissemination.
    • Establish, maintain and develop productive and ongoing relationships with stakeholders.
    • Monitor and evaluate service delivery to ensure compliance with regulatory and professional procedures and standards.
    • Collaborate with colleagues across professional and administrative areas and external stakeholders to ensure seamless service provision.
  • Update data and information on systems and media for recording, storing, communicating and informing service users and team members in line with data protection and confidentiality requirements.
  • Work with internal and external partners to deliver cross-functional services and activities.
  • Analyse data and statistics and provide reports for higher level decision makers.
  • Accurately record information and data and disseminate within internal networks including management and governance committees.
  • Contribute to the development and implementation of University policy and procedures.
  • Prepare written reports for consideration by management where required.
  • Undertake all work with diplomacy, discretion and courtesy, maintaining appropriate confidentiality.
  • Any other reasonable duties.

How to Apply

We prefer to receive applications online.

Please attach the following with your application:

  • A CV
  • A covering letter outlining your skills and experience in relation to the job description
  • A document providing evidence and examples of how you meet the Person Specification criteria.

Please note that we will be unable to consider your application if these documents are not provided. 

Person specification - skills, knowledge, qualifications and experience required


  • Excellent oral and written communication skills and the ability to develop effective working relationships, both internally and externally.
  • Proven IT skills, including use of Microsoft Office.
  • Five GCSE’s at least Grade C or level four (or equivalent) including English Language and Mathematics (or equivalent experience).
  • Evidence of personal development to maintain skills.
  • Recognised secretarial qualification (including shorthand or audio typing)
  • Relevant administrative experience in a busy office environment
  • Experience of providing senior secretarial support to committees (Board level or equivalent)
  • Experience of handling a complex range of activities and prioritising these effectively
  • Experience of managing confidential and sensitive information, with an ability to communicate sensitive information with confidentiality, tact and diplomacy to senior and other staff within and outside the University.
  • Demonstrable ability to proactively work with team members to ensure the delivery of high quality services.
  • Experience of working on the front line with service delivery, and the ability to work under pressure and meet tight deadlines without compromising on quality.
  • Demonstrable ability to provide advice and guidance to a range of customers and colleagues.
  • Ability to solve problems as part of a team and resolve issues, plan solutions and make pragmatic decisions.
  • Ability to effectively network and exchange advice and information for development purposes. 
  • Experience of maintaining web pages
  • Experience of working with financial systems, such as Oracle
  • Experience of managing a budget.

For Information Only

Realising Your Potential Approach

Essential behavioural attribute

Realising Your Potential Approach text

Developing myself and others - Showing commitment to own development and supporting and encouraging others to develop their knowledge, skills and behaviours to enable them to reach their full potential for the wider benefit of the University.

  1. Effectively developing and maintaining personal networks of contacts where it assists with the role
  2. Ensuring equal access to development opportunities for all
  3. Using delegation as an opportunity to develop others
  4. Chairing meetings effectively, ensuring everyone has an opportunity to contribute
  5. Empowering others by identifying decision makers at the appropriate level
  6. Providing creative work opportunities to stretch and develop colleagues
  7. Encouraging others to learn from mistakes without blame
  8. Encouraging colleagues to take calculated risks
  9. Coaching and mentoring others to enhance own skills and those of others
  10. Reacting professionally when faced with challenging situations
  11. Encouraging the best from others through effective communication
  12. Taking an active interest in what is happening more widely in the University and informing others where appropriate

Embracing change - Adjusting to unfamiliar situations, demands and changing roles. Seeing change as an opportunity and being receptive to new ideas.

  1. Effectively developing and maintaining personal networks of contacts where it assists with the role
  2. Ensuring equal access to development opportunities for all
  3. Using delegation as an opportunity to develop others
  4. Chairing meetings effectively, ensuring everyone has an opportunity to contribute
  5. Empowering others by identifying decision makers at the appropriate level
  6. Providing creative work opportunities to stretch and develop colleagues
  7. Encouraging others to learn from mistakes without blame
  8. Encouraging colleagues to take calculated risks
  9. Coaching and mentoring others to enhance own skills and those of others
  10. Reacting professionally when faced with challenging situations
  11. Encouraging the best from others through effective communication
  12. Taking an active interest in what is happening more widely in the University and informing others where appropriate

Respecting others - To embrace diversity by promoting and maintaining an inclusive and supportive work and study environment that enables all members of our University community to achieve their full potential.

  1. Acting fairly and respectfully towards others in both verbal and non-verbal communication
  2. Practices being non-judgemental towards others – avoids making decisions or judgements about people based on their sex, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, race, religion or belief, colour, nationality, ethnic origin or age
  3. Behaving responsibly by reporting any incidents of bullying, harassment and victimisation
  4. Showing a commitment to improving the institution with regard to respecting others by attending designated training sessions to keep abreast of equality legislation and learning more about the needs of minority groups
  5. Recognising when someone is being discriminated against and taking appropriate action
  6. Challenging questionable behaviour and practices which are not in keeping with respect for others

Working together - Working co-operatively with others in order to achieve objectives. Applying a wide range of interpersonal skills.

  1. Co-operating willingly to support the achievement of team goals
  2. Using understanding of other people’s perspectives to help reach agreement
  3. Communicate effectively by sharing relevant information and keeping others informed
  4. Recognising and respecting the roles, responsibilities, interests and concerns of colleagues and stakeholders
  5. Proposing and negotiating win-win solutions
  6. Surfacing conflicts early so that they may be addressed
  7. Show consideration by ensuring that working arrangements, resources and processes respond to different needs, abilities, values and ways of working

Providing leadership and direction - Seeing the work that you do in the context of the bigger picture and taking a long-term view.

Communicating vision clearly and enthusiastically to inspire and motivate others.

  1. Making links between individual, team, department and University objectives/strategies  clear for others
  2. Giving team members support and advice when they need it, especially during periods of setback and change
  3. Creating momentum and positive attitudes about what needs to be done
  4. Empowering others to take personal responsibility

Finding solutions - Taking a holistic view and working enthusiastically and with creativity to analyse problems and develop innovative and workable solutions. Identifying opportunities for innovation.

  1. Supporting others to find their own solutions rather than giving all the answers
  2. Fostering a culture which encourages people to take acceptable risks in pursuing innovation
  3. Coaching and guiding others in developing and implementing innovative solutions
  4. Sharing learning and experience to facilitate others’ decision making
  5. Seeking input from others to develop team solutions
  6. Championing business cases and plans for ideas submitted by members of the team
  7. Encouraging and developing the creativity of others and recruiting and selecting creative people
  8. Giving people the space and freedom to be creative

Providing excellent student services and professional support - Providing the best quality service to all our students and customers. Building genuine and open long-term relationships in order to drive up service standards and to enhance their experience.

  1. Seeing things from your customers’ viewpoint
  2. Listening, questioning and clarifying in order to understand students’,  customers’ and stakeholders’ needs
  3. Using feedback to drive improvements
  4. Tailoring communication to meet students’,  customers’ and stakeholders’ needs
  5. Fostering a continuous improvement philosophy
  6. Delivering consistent service standards

Using resources effectively - Making effective use of available resources including people, information, networks and budgets. Being aware of the financial and commercial aspects of the University.

  1. Liaising with external bodies, suppliers and other HE bodies in a professional manner in line with responsible University guidance
  2. Be perceptive in identifying the information and knowledge people need and why they need it
  3. Drawing on others’ knowledge, skills and experience
  4. Liaising outside of immediate work area to maximise use of resources within the University
  5. Deploying human resources efficiently, at the right levels, delegating appropriately
  6. Considering costs as part of the equation when planning a development

Achieving results - Planning and organising workloads to ensure that deadlines are met within resource constraints. Consistently meeting objectives and success criteria.

  1. Taking time to celebrate successes
  2. Winning support of key colleagues and other stakeholders
  3. Demonstrate honesty and integrity by sharing the credit with others
  4. Monitoring progress and providing regular updates
  5. Recognising others’ contribution to the achievement of objectives

DBS Requirement: Not Applicable.

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