What are your first impressions of the University?
I love coming onto campus every day, there’s so much going on, even now in the holidays. I gather it all goes up a notch or two when term starts again. I can’t wait!
I don’t come from a technical background but I have a geeky interest in it and what it can enable is amazing. Technology shouldn’t be a constraint to what you want to do, it should liberate you. I want to give people wings with technology. I worked at .gov.uk which is very analogous to the Uni, lots of incredibly talented people constrained by processes and tools that they have, technology can release them from that and unleash their potential.
What would you most like to achieve while at the University?
I’d like us to have developed a vision for technology that places the University in a really pioneering position. We’re a University that’s strong in STEM and we should be thought leading in this area.
There has been a Digital Review looking at what we need to do as an organisation to start taking advantage of digital technologies and operating better in a digital world, so my focus in the first six months is to take that and turn it into something tangible.
What piece of advice would you like to give to a student?
For the young women, I’d say we don’t have enough of you working in technology. I go to a lot of tech events and I’m often in a small minority. As a University we’ve got an opportunity to show what good should look like. There is change but it’s got to go faster.
For students as a whole, don’t think that technology is all about coding. You don’t have to be good at Computer Science to excel, there’s roles for people who are good with design, with people, with the organisation element. Technology is a very broad profession. I’m an example of someone who has done well in technology without being that technical.
I’d also encourage everyone to get involved, emerging technologies like AI make this more important than ever. I don’t want my future and the future of society defined by a few developers in Silicon Valley - don’t sit back and think it’s all going to be OK.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
After wanting to be an air stewardess or an actor - I wanted to be a teacher and in fact my degree was a B.Ed in English and Drama.
I moved around the world a lot as my parents were diplomats so I had teachers from all sorts of cultures in all kinds of schools. I was lucky to have deeply committed teachers who inspired me and I loved the experience of learning.
What’s the one thing you know now that you wish you’d known when you were younger?
That it’s going to be alright! I spent an awful lot of time worrying when I was younger and what I’ve learned as I grow older is that if you just let it happen, it will be fine. If I’m giving that as advice to friends or family, I do so with absolute certainty because it will be. It may not work out the way you think it will, but it will be fine.
What was your first job?
In advertising with Saatchi & Saatchi in London. It was a career-defining role for me. The friends that I made and the experiences I had were incredible. There was a lot of learning but also exposure to some of the best people in the industry and in business.
If you could start your own dream business, what would it be?
I did run my own business and would do again, I just couldn’t work out how to make any money out of it! There was an opportunity to get different types of freelancers to come together in virtual teams and bring them together in a physical space to work on projects, it was pop-up co-working.
It absolutely took off and employers started to ask us to come in. I set up the Kindred HQ website and I still post to the blog. The trouble is freelancers don’t have any money, but there’s a definite need for that type of service.
What’s your favourite album and why?
‘Protection’ by Massive Attack. I liked that it was collaboration. It was made in 1990 but it sounds like it was made yesterday. And they are almost local to Bath.
If you could meet anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be and why?
Emmeline Pankhurst. There’s something amazing about a group of women from all parts of society who were prepared to do some pretty extraordinary things to get women the vote. I took part in an event to mark the centenary of voting rights for women earlier this year, with everyone in suffragette colours. I’d like to think we don’t let her down.
When are you happiest?
My partner and I have got a smallholding where we keep bees near Malmesbury. I am at my absolute happiest on a Friday summer’s evening in the garden with a glass of wine, listening to the bees buzzing back into the hive.