Simon Vaukins, Faculty Graduate School Manager, Faculty of Science and Technology at Lancaster University

Simon's career story

How long have you worked in HE and what was your first position?

It feels like there’s so much to choose from, and it depends what day it is! I do sometimes miss the variety that comes with interacting with students on a daily basis, so maybe I’d go back to a more student facing role. If it was a sunny day though, I think I’d like to get my hands dirty working with the campus maintenance team!

In 2006 I took on a part-time job in the University library whilst I was working on my PhD, which essentially involved making sure that book didn’t make their way out of the Library without being checked out and that coffee and food didn’t make its way in. I was probably the most visible person in the library, and I even managed to get a nickname: ‘the Library Lion’! I think on account of my having a good amount of curly, ginger hair.

This was really just a way of supporting myself financially during my PhD, and I didn’t think it would lead to a career in HE. However, when an academic job didn’t come along after my PhD and I was grateful that I’d been given this opportunity, and eventually it led on to a temporary role in HR, to programmes assistant in an undergraduate department, PG Administrator in the Lancaster Environment Centre and to my current role, which I started in January 2014.

How has the AUA helped your career/development?

In April 2015 I started the AUA’s PgCert in Higher Education Administration, Management and Leadership and completed this in April 2017.

This gave me the opportunity to think more about my approach to career development, it gave me a reason to explore more widely different areas of the HE sector that I might not usually be exposed to and has helped me to develop my professional practice.

I’ve also been an AUA Advocate at Lancaster since February 2016 and a part of the North Wales and North West Reginal AUA Network team. This has provided the opportunity to engage with members of the AUA more widely but also to work towards building a stronger network of AUA members at Lancaster. Again, this has helped me to meet people and make connections that I wouldn’t ordinarily be able to make.

If you could do another HE job for a day, what would it be?

It feels like there’s so much to choose from, and it depends what day it is! I do sometimes miss the variety that comes with interacting with students on a daily basis, so maybe I’d go back to a more student facing role. If it was a sunny day though, I think I’d like to get my hands dirty working with the campus maintenance team!

What has been the most important innovation you have witnessed in your lifetime?

The internet but not email. Definitely not email.

What can’t you start your day without?

Food for the cats and a cup of coffee for me, but don’t confuse the two.

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