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UCL Professional Services Conference 2017

GuestBlogger22 February 2017

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Written by Chris Lane, Media Relations Officer, UCL Communications & Marketing 

The annual UCL Professional Services Conference drew together close to 700 staff from across the university on February 15 at Logan Hall, to meet counterparts from other departments, learn from peers, and celebrate the achievements of the professional services community at UCL.

Rex Knight, Vice-Provost (Operations), introduced the conference, calling it a celebration of the work UCL Professional Services staff do for the university. This year’s event focused on how to improve the student experience at UCL. The theme was presented in a short film called “Back to Basics – what is the student journey?” which featured interview clips with UCL students discussing their experience from first contact to graduation and beyond.

images by Kirsten Holst, www.kirstenholst.com

Nica Burns, OBE. Images: Kirsten Holst

The next presentation was from Nica Burns OBE, an alumna who is now one of London’s most prominent theatre producers. She discussed her experience studying law at UCL, as well as being a very active member of the Drama Society. She said a law degree complemented her creative spirit very well as it taught her a different way of thinking, helping her to be more analytical and able to run a business. After her talk she took part in a brief Q&A, hosted by Lori Houlihan, Vice-Provost (Development), where Burns shared her insights into taking risks, being ambitious, and meeting the Queen.

Following Burns’ presentation was a series of snapshot presentations. First up, Ian Creagh discussed the TOPS (Transforming our Professional Services) programme. The audience was then shown a film about Transforming UCL, showcasing the success of building and refurbishment projects such as the New Student Centre and 22 Gordon Street. The final snapshot presentation was delivered by Sue Tonks, the emcee for the evening, who shared her tips on networking by finding common ground.

The assembled crowd then had the chance to put Tonks’ tips into practice at the student journey marketplace and networking session, where staff members from across UCL hosted stalls showcasing their work. It was an opportunity to learn about the wide range of activity going on at UCL and to find areas for collaboration with other teams.images by Kirsten Holst, www.kirstenholst.com

The afternoon continued back in Logan Hall with a Q&A with key members of UCL leadership: President & Provost, Professor Michael Arthur; Wendy Appleby, Registrar, Student & Registry Services; Dame Nicola Brewer, Vice-Provost (International); Dr Celia Caulcott, Vice-Provost (Innovation & Enterprise); and Professor David Price, Vice-Provost (Research). They answered questions from the audience including addressing how UCL is working to improve the student experience, UCL’s strategy in the wake of the EU referendum, and how professional services could collectively improve.

The culmination of the event was the presentation of the annual Professional Services Awards, recognising key achievements of staff members across the university. There were close to 100 nominations sent in from across the university.

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Astrea conference 2014 – Culture Shift 50:50

IrrumAli8 December 2014

Attendees of the Astrea conference 2014

Attendees of the Astrea conference 2014

UCL Astrea held its inaugural conference on Tuesday 2 December – a day of celebration and support for professional services women in the higher education sector and beyond.

‘Culture Shift 50:50’ was a lively and engaging day packed with talks, activities and networking hosted at the prestigious British Library Conference Centre with more than 200 women from UCL, and other institutions, in attendance.

The Astrea network was founded only a year or so ago by Alice Chilver and Emma Todd, two colleagues in The Bartlett, UCL’s faculty of the built environment. Noticing that there was a gap in the ready availability of support and networking for UCL professional services women, Astrea has been established to:

“…empower women.  And by doing so, to get women to realise their potential. We plan to do this by building a network where women can learn from each other; where our members can find mentors and role models; where they can talk about issues of common concern and where we can discuss what needs to change to reach 50/50 leadership. (‘Our aims’, Astrea website).

The conference follows on from a year of successful events, many of which focused on key topics that Astrea has identified – career development, resilience, networking techniques – and for which there clearly is an appetite to explore further.

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Professional Services Conference

Jack H CDean24 June 2014

The inaugural Professional Services Conference took place on Monday, 16 June. The afternoon consisted of a series of presentations and panel discussions followed by an awards ceremony for staff and teams nominated by their colleagues across the university.

Rex Knight, Vice-Provost (Operations), introduced the conference as a “celebration of work going on across the university”. Professor Anthony Smith, Vice-Provost (Education) said: “it’s all too easy for academic events to take precedent. This is an opportunity to say thank you to the unsung aspects of the institution.”

Empowered - Emma Todd and Alice Chilver (UCL Bartlett)

Empowered – Emma Todd and Alice Chilver (UCL Bartlett)

Over the past decade, there has been a 20% increase in staff and a 16% increase in student numbers and Knight continued “thanks to your extraordinary professionalism all would not be as it is without what you do”.

There were then presentations from Emma Todd and Alice Chilver (UCL Bartlett), co-founders of Astrea, the professional women’s network at UCL. Dr. Debbie Challis spoke about the exhibition, A Fusion of Worlds, at the Petrie Museum and funded by UCL Grand Challenges.

Finally, Bob Carey discussed the Strategic Leadership Programme and Steve Rowalt and Kate Cheney delivered their presentation on the UCL Masterplan 2011, which has overseen the current transformation of the Cruciform Hub – @ucl_crucitwit.

The Professional Services Awards consisted of five categories with nominations coming from a diverse range of staff across the university. Emma Todd, Strategic Communications Manager and Alice Chilver, Business Development Manager at the UCL Bartlett, won the ‘Empowered… confident and enabling’ award for their work in setting up Astrea. (more…)