I was here from 2004-6 then returned in 2012. My role is to ensure what I call the ‘golden triangle’ between government, universities and business is working well. We know this partnership is a trigger for coherent and effective economic, social and educational development - look at MIT’s astounding contribution to Boston and its surrounding areas. Closer to home we’re working with EDF, which is about economic and education development across the region and came about through contacts I made working with government.
What would you most like to achieve while at the University?
To create recognition for the vital role that universities play in economic and social development. We are a force for good.
What piece of advice would you like to give to a student?
Be curious. Take advantage of studying the subject and doing activities outside your comfort zone, learn to be more open and less judgemental, you’ve got the rest of your life for that!
Name one thing that makes you feel proud to work at the University of Bath?
Whenever I represent the University, I don’t need to use any kind of spin because everything I say about the quality and excellence in this place is completely true.
What I like is the closeness between disciplines. I can stand in a coffee queue and talk to an engineer, a scientist or a social scientist and this is such a rich experience. Industry and government think in terms of problems that require multidisciplinary solutions, just the kind of integrated approach we can offer. We are young, fast and dynamic and we look at things in a different way. I love working where things are pushing on the edge.
Who was your most influential teacher/educator, and why?
Professor Lynda Gratton at London Business School, she helped me understand how to how to pursue an academic research agenda while delivering value for board directors in major multinationals.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
The family joke was that I would be Prime Minister. I wanted to be a national journalist - at home we consumed the Telegraph, Financial Times, Mirror and Nottingham Evening Post avidly to keep up with business and current affairs.
What’s the one thing you know now that you wish you’d known when you were younger?
Logic and reason on their own are not sufficient to win arguments, understanding the views of needs of others and being willing to work with those is critical.
What was your first job?
A Saturday girl in John Lewis. I loved the school uniform department, sweet kids coming in to get uniforms, mothers trying to do the right thing. And my daughter did the same in Harrods over the holidays.
What’s your favourite album and why?
Any Leonard Cohen live album. I didn’t like him originally but my husband’s obsessed so I eventually agreed to go to a concert as it was his birthday present. It was astounding - the poetry of the lyrics, the melody of the songs, the astonishing musical production. I couldn’t believe I felt like a middle aged woman shouting ‘look at me!’ to a 78 year old geriatric.
When are you happiest?
With my family. I’ve got a large family with five daughters, two sons in law, three partners or boyfriends of the other daughters, three grandsons and my wonderfully stoical husband. I love sitting around the kitchen table with everyone having a big meal making lots of noise. No boyfriend or husband survives unless they can take very loud debates.
If you could meet anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be and why?
Nelson Mandela, for how he handled the transition post-apartheid. What he did averted civil war and huge bloodshed. He offered a vision in public while brokering negotiations behind the scenes with the Afrikaans and ANC. I was out there after apartheid finished and it was a time of incredible hope and excitement.
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