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.
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.
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.