Andrea Moran-Healy, an administrator in the Professional Issues and Fitness to Practise team, recently worked in the Vice-Chancellor’s Office on a career development placement scheme.
Andrea shares her experiences for the blog and explains what she has taken away from her time in the Vice-Chancellor’s Office.
How long have you worked at the university and can you tell me a bit about your role in the Professional Issues Team?
I started working at the University in January 2015 and I am currently on secondment working in the Professional Issues Team for HWB since in September 2018. The work that the team covers is really varied, but in a nutshell we are responsible for supporting and administrating the processes to assess the suitability of applicants and students on professional courses, e.g undertaking criminal checks and managing fitness to practice cases.
What made you want to work in the Vice-Chancellor’s Office?
It was an opportunity open to all professional service staff as part of the Career and Development offer. The aim of this placement scheme was to develop skills, increase personal knowledge in different parts of the University, undertake tasks outside your usual role and increase the overall transparency of the Vice-Chancellor’s Office. As I am currently on secondment from my permanent role in STA, when the opportunity came up I felt it was a good time to apply for the scheme to further support my personal development and broaden my experience within the University.
On my first day heading over the “bridge” into the Vice-Chancellor’s Office, I felt slightly apprehensive going into this unknown area, but my nerves soon disappeared as soon as I turned onto the corridor and I was warmly greeted by all the friendly administration support team. This was the first thing I learnt from my placement – the Vice Chancellor’s Office are a friendly and very approachable team! I found all my colleagues here to be extremely open about their workloads and they were happy to answer any of my questions.
What type of work did you get involved in?
I attended meetings around planning for the Vice-Chancellor’s week, PSOM and the Hallam Deal. I undertook various pieces of work, including writing the content for the Vice-Chancellor’s fortnightly update newsletter and I prepared an updated induction pack for the newly appointed Executive Officer. I learnt how the Vice-Chancellor tries to make the best use of the University’s budget by being super selective with his own expenditure, for example, the types of airfare he will select, including flying Economy Class to Australia recently to make best use of University monies. He also cycles between campuses on an electric bike which I felt is an excellent example to colleagues.
What was the highlight of your time in the VCO?
I really enjoyed working in another area of the University and learning about the roles and responsibilities of the Vice-Chancellor’s Office. I also enjoyed meeting new colleagues and shadowing their daily tasks and observing different ways of working. During my time on placement I also had the opportunity to meet with Richard Calvert where we discussed my personal career aims and objectives which was very helpful and insightful. We discussed too the positive impact of secondments and placements like mine and how more staff should embrace these opportunities across Sheffield Hallam for personal development. I would fully recommend taking these opportunities to all staff regardless of their length of service or grade as a positive learning experience.
How would you sum up your experience in three words?
Informative, positive, welcoming.
What experiences have you taken away that you will use in your current role and what best practice you will adopt/share with others?
I feel I have taken a lot away from this experience – I have broadened my knowledge of how the Vice-Chancellor’s Office works and about the nature of business covered by this office. I have learnt some new working techniques e.g. utilising OneNote for recording notes to make best use of my time and for easier access to archived notes for future meetings, and also trying to think out of the box when planning for forthcoming events. I have also signed up for SHU initiatives like Random Coffee, which was actively encouraged by colleagues in the Vice Chancellor’s Office.
Do you have any advice for colleagues who may be thinking about taking a similar step?
I would definitely recommend applying to a placement scheme for anyone that wants to widen their own knowledge of the university and network with different colleagues across different teams in the organisation.
Laura Ottery, head of the Vice-Chancellor’s Office, supported Andrea throughout her placement. Laura said, “This pilot project was the idea of Shauna Vulliamy, head of talent management in HROD. Shauna adapted this from a similar scheme in the Civil Service and I was very happy for the Vice-Chancellor’s Office to be the first test area. I have personally benefitted throughout my career from secondments and placements, and find it really beneficial to a career in HE to have an understanding of how different parts of the University operate. Andrea was one of three people selected from a competitive process to join us on the placement scheme, and was an absolute joy to have in the office. It was also useful for us to hear insights and thoughts from someone outside of the team on areas we were working on. Shauna and I are currently reviewing the pilot with a view to extending it to other parts of the University.”