How long have you worked at the Uni? What does your role involve?
I've worked at the University of Bath since September 2014. So nearly five years. I started as a coordinator in the International Mobility Office and progressed to International Mobility Manager in 2016.
As Interim Head of the International Relations Office, my role is the strategic leadership and operational management of the International Relations Office. I've only been in my current post since June, so I'm still very much learning on the job, but basically I am continuing to manage staff and student mobility, and overseeing the international partnerships that we have.
What would you most like to achieve while at the University?
What I would really like to achieve is to raise the profile of the work that we do. In the IRO, we work with academics and professional services staff, from a wide range of departments, to support international student and staff mobility, and partnership activities such as the International Funding Schemes and Global Chairs.
We’ve just delivered our first International Staff Week, inviting colleagues from partner institutions to Bath to learn about the different ways students are supported on campus. This has also given us the opportunity to learn about good practices at our partner universities, and the feedback we received from participants has been great.
We’re also proud of our engagement with partners in the Global South, especially South Africa, where we have created new networks for both research and our wider staff community. While most of our partnerships are research-driven, we work hard to embed the value of cultural diversity across all dimensions of the University.
Name one thing that makes you feel proud to work at the University of Bath?
Definitely the people. The people and the community on campus. The office that I work in is really lovely and supportive. In my role I connect with lots of people across all the different departments; professional services and academics. Everybody is really supportive. The feeling I get is that staff want to help and they all want to see the University succeed. And I think that gives us a common purpose and makes it a really nice place to work.
What piece of advice would you like to give to a student?
I would advise students to take the opportunities when they come up. Getting a good degree is great, but you will have opportunities present themselves that you might never have the chance to take again, like studying abroad. I would really recommend that students grab hold of those opportunities when they can, rather than rushing into getting a nine to five job and settling down. I really think that they should take opportunities to travel and to do things that they might not want to do for their career, which make them a more rounded person. I feel that's what makes a life enjoyable in the end.
Who was your most influential teacher/educator, and why?
I really enjoyed school, so there were quite a lot of my teachers that I liked, but I always really enjoy subjects when the teacher is passionate. So when I was studying at university, I went to lectures on archaeology, which was nothing really to do with what I was studying, but just because the lecturer was so passionate. It got to the point where I almost signed up to go to Brazil to work on a dig for no real reason other than the passion of the lecturer! Anyone who can inspire you to get that enthusiasm for a subject makes an inspiring teacher.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was very young I wanted to be a dancer, but I never stuck with any dancing lessons, so that was never going to happen! I think the only thing that I've really held on to is the fact that I’ve always been interested in other cultures. Travel is a huge passion of mine, and when I was doing my A-Levels I was choosing the options that might allow me to work overseas. It hasn’t always gone to plan, but now I’m in a role where I have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and learn about their cultures as part of my job.
What was your first job?
My first job was in retail. It was a Saturday job working in a small clothes shop in the local town to me, and I didn't last very long. I was very, very shy. It was the first time I had ‘failed’ at something, but the experience definitely made me come out of my shell more, and gave me a lot of skills that I could use in the future. It taught me to get on with things, even though they might be a bit scary.
If you could start your own dream business, what would it be?
I always used to say that I wanted to open a cake shop or do something like that, as I really enjoy baking. So I would love to have tea room or a cake shop and make the cakes. I think there’s nothing better than a nice afternoon tea.
Where is your favourite holiday destination and why?
I don't think I've got a favourite place, but I would say somewhere in a tropical rainforest. I've been fortunate enough to have quite a few holidays in Southeast Asia, and spent four or five months traveling Latin America, and I've been back quite a bit since. Definitely being in the rainforest is where I'm happiest.
What’s your favourite book or album and why?
I have quite a few favourite books and they change quite often. One that has been my favourite for a while is the God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. It's a story of forbidden love in India. There are many issues affecting this couple, including the changes occurring in the country and the caste system. It's such an absorbing read, you’re swept up in the characters, their story and their relationship. It has a tragic ending, I cried a lot at the end. It really is a very powerful love story.
And then another book that I really enjoyed was The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, and that's another historic love story. It’s a retelling of chapters from the Book of Genesis with a focus on the females, particularly Dinah. The red tent is where the women were banished every month. There's a lot of cultural information that comes across in the telling of the story. This is another book that has a tragic ending and it's one of those powerful stories that stays with you for a long time afterwards.
If you could meet anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be and why?
I would love to meet Jane Goodall. Just to be able to talk to her about how it was to be a pioneering female primatologist in the 1960s, conducting her research in Tanzania. I really admire how her love of something took her down a totally unexpected route. She was working as a secretary in Kenya and her interest in animals led to her contact Louis Leakey. He took her on as his secretary, but then sent her to Tanzania to conduct research on Chimpanzees. She was able to gain a PhD almost 10 years later, without studying for a bachelor’s degree
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I was briefly a surrogate mum to a monkey. Ten years ago, my husband and I took a year out to travel and work on some volunteer projects. The first project we did was in Kenya focussing on conserving Colobus monkeys, but there were a lot of different types of monkeys in the area. A tourist had been on a safari and they had found an abandoned baby monkey. Presuming something horrible had happened to the mother they brought it to us because we had a troop of rehabilitation monkeys on site. Unfortunately, it was too small to go in with that group; they were quite boisterous. So we ended up having to look after it. For two weeks I was waking up in the early hours of the morning to feed a baby monkey with a syringe. I was walking around with him in my shirt to give him bodily contact through the day, and I was very sad to leave him when it was time to move on. Thankfully, there were other volunteers to continue the efforts and we heard that he was successfully introduced to a local troop months later.
Tell us your favourite joke.
How do you make an apple puff?
Chase it around the garden!