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My Warwick Life: Helen Neal

Helen NealThe new My Warwick Life feature gives an insight into University members' life at Warwick, considering both their work and social life on campus. Here, we hear from Helen Neal, C.A.G.E. Centre Secretary, Department of Economics.

There’s no such thing as a typical day, but, in a nutshell, my job involves…

Anything and everything! I have been involved with the CAGE project since January 2010. CAGE (Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy) is based in the Department of Economics and is a £4.5 million research centre, supported by the ESRC, over a five year period. My role is wide ranging and includes providing support to the staff of the centre, but in particular to the Director and Research Manager as well as ensuring the smooth running of the centre on a day to day basis and managing the daily budget. This role has really enabled me to develop myself and I have been presented with some exciting opportunities. Since joining the team, I have had the responsibility of coordinating several large external conferences, a high-profile seminar series and two international summer schools for Doctoral and Post Doctoral researchers. I also Iook after the centre’s website and try to produce interesting content, including podcasts of lectures to create long lasting dissemination opportunities for the centre. Other daily responsibilities include receiving and welcoming visitors to the centre, I have been fortunate to meet some really eminent academics and Policy Makers, including Sir Gus O’Donnell and Lord Nicholas Stern.

I had a really useful meeting recently with …..

Francesco Santana Ferra, the Director of Administration at CORE (Centre for Operations Research and Econometrics) at Universite Catholique de Louvain in Belgium. I was very fortunate to receive an Erasmus Staff Mobility Award this year and used the opportunity to visit two renowned research institutes in Belgium to examine their methods of working and to develop some new ways of thinking which could be beneficial to both myself and my Centre. I had various meetings with colleagues working in similar roles to myself as well as Senior Administrators and discussed areas such as dissemination of research, impact, events and effective ways of managing a large research budget.

I recently attended….

Modern Society and the Economics of Happiness at Work. I had been involved with the organisation this event, lead by Professor Andrew Oswald, from the outset and also the follow up event, aimed at civil servants and members of the policy making community, which took place in London. We welcomed Professor Richard Easterlin (University of Southern California), the founding father of Happiness Economics as well as Professor Andrew Clark from the Paris School of Economics, another leading thinker in the field. Both events were a tremendous success and highlighted the relevance of the research being carried out by CAGE and its associates.

I'm really enjoying working on….

Preparations for the CAGE Annual Summer School for 2012, this will be the third time we have hosted an international Summer School. Summer Schools are an important activity for young researchers and CAGE is happy to be able to contribute to this tradition. My role in organising these schools is to work closely with the academic co-ordinator, ensuring the well-being of the students and visiting international faculty, arranging accommodation and hospitality. The 2012 event will focus on Political Economy and we look forward to welcoming students from across Europe and the United States.

The best thing about working at Warwick is….

The opportunities for personal development offered by the University; Warwick clearly values its staff of all levels, and the opportunities given to build on skills and progress with your career and qualifications are fantastic. I have been on many of the short courses offered by the Learning and Development Centre and found them incredibly useful.

If I could change one things about Warwick it would be….

I would add a bus lane to the main campus road to improve traffic flow, especially in the mornings! I would also encourage Warwick to work with the local council and look at ways to make improvements to Stoneleigh Road and Gibbet Hill Road – a cycle lane would be a worthwhile investment, not only to improve conditions for motorists but also the safety of cyclists.

I'm really glad I got involved with….

Jogging around the campus with my colleagues from Economics during our lunch break. We started to take advantage of the lakes, woods and gardens around campus to improve our fitness and to get some fresh air and through this I got well and truly hooked! I am now training for my first half-marathon in December.

I used my Warwick Learning Account vouchers for…

A course in Post-Beginners French last year. I really enjoyed languages at school and regretted not taking my studies further. This was a great opportunity to refresh my knowledge and regain my confidence in the language.

I recently watched…

Lovesong at the Arts centre and enjoyed every second! It was a very moving and a powerful production. It examined a couple in their youth and then in their elderly years and what happens to love as the years go by. I won’t ruin the plot for those that haven’t seen it, but I will say there wasn’t a dry eye in the house at the end of the show, including mine!

I usually travel to campus by…

Car, I live too far away to consider walking and can’t get public transport due to my rural location, unfortunately. It is my ambition to cycle the 17 miles in one day though, not sure if I will make it back though!

If you'd like to be featured in a future My Warwick Life piece, please email and we'll email the questions out to you.