Provost, University of Warwick
"Don’t fear failure – it’s the best way to learn."
Provost, University of Warwick
Tell us about your journey to working at Warwick.
At my age, that could be a long story! I’m proud to have spent my working life in higher education – I’ve worked at Universities in Newcastle, in Nottingham and most recently in Malaysia. I started as an academic working in marketing and I’ve progressed through a range of roles where I have become more involved in the leadership and management of the academic process. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing staff and students, and I’ve had so many opportunities to help and support them to realise their ambitions – in whatever they wanted to do.
Could you tell us about what you do?
My job title is Provost and probably the best way to understand that is to think of me as Deputy Vice Chancellor. As well as assisting and representing the Vice Chancellor, I have responsibility for overall academic strategy and resourcing. I manage the academic departments to ensure that they have the right resources to deliver the strategies and that they are able to contribute to the financial health of the University. And in doing this, I work closely with the Pro-Vice Chancellors who have responsibility for strategy in relation to education, research and International engagement.
What do you love about working at Warwick?
I love the people – the staff and the students I work with. I love the commitment to excellence, the international perspective and the institutional determination to have a genuinely positive impact, regionally, nationally and internationally.
And I love our wonderful campus – especially in spring when the daffodils appear, reminding us that the cold and the dark of winter has passed!
What is the biggest challenge you think women face today?
I think it’s hugely important that we are able to make real choices about how we want to live our lives, about what we want to do and about how we would like to make a difference. But social norms, preconceptions and stereotypes continue to be influential and these change slowly. And so I think our biggest challenge remains that of changing these preconceptions to ensure that we are recognised for who we are and what we can do without being defined by our sex.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
For me, I think it has a mix of meanings. It’s a celebration of women; a celebration of what we have achieved and also what we can and will achieve. But it’s also a reminder that there is still much that needs to change. And it’s a specific opportunity for women to come together, to share experiences, to network and to learn and to understand how we might be able to drive change and build a better future.
What advice would you give to female students and alumnae?
Trust yourself and believe in yourself. Try always to be open, honest and willing to learn. Don’t fear failure – it’s the best way to learn. Treat others with dignity and respect and always try to understand before you judge. And look for the best in people because that’s what most people deserve.
Is there a woman you look to for inspiration?
I draw inspiration from lots of people and I have been lucky to engage with so many great and influential women. But the woman who has influenced me most is my late mother. My father helped me believe that I could do anything I wanted to and not be constrained by my sex. But it’s from my mother that I learned the real value of tolerance, kindness and empathy for others; I learned from her that how I achieved was every bit as important (if not more so) than what I achieved.