Delivering my first session at the AUA Conference | AUA Blog
Head of Operations
University of Liverpool
When I attended my first AUA Annual Conference in 2017 I never imagined myself presenting a session the following year, but in March 2018 I delivered my first session, ‘Finding your True North’, to about 60 delegates… and what an amazing experience it was!
I’ve been on quite a journey with AUA in a relatively short space of time; having worked in HE for almost 9 years, I joined AUA in August 2016 as a means of enhancing my professional development and was immediately impressed by the range of opportunities to develop my professional practice. Keen to get more involved at my own institution, I contacted our advocate to see how I could help and ended up taking on this role in January 2018. I am also halfway through studying the PgCert in HE Administration, Management and Leadership.
I like to set myself goals each year and this year there were two things I wanted to focus on; building my professional network and developing my public speaking skills. When the call for session proposals for the 2018 Annual Conference came out I knew it was the perfect opportunity to do both. I chose to focus my session proposal on the conference theme of ‘sustaining successful professionals’ and decided to talk about career development as this is something I am passionate about and I felt this would appeal to the broadest possible audience.
In developing my session, I weaved my personal experience throughout to show how my own career has evolved over the years and I included plenty of practical exercises as I was keen that delegates left the room with some tangible actions that they could take forward immediately. It is so important that people take ownership of their professional development and I drew on my experience as a mentor to introduce tools and techniques to encourage delegates to establish short term goals and be accountable for achieving them.
I’ve been on quite a journey with AUA in a relatively short space of time; having worked in HE for almost 9 years, I joined AUA in August 2016 as a means of enhancing my professional development and was immediately impressed by the range of opportunities to develop my professional practice.
When the day of the session arrived, I felt surprisingly calm. Although this was by far the biggest and most high profile event I have presented at, I have always found AUA events to be warm, supportive environments and, thanks to the fabulous AUA team, everything was set up in the room so the session ran like clockwork. Despite some initial nerves, just a few minutes into the session I settled into it and actually surprised myself as I really enjoyed it!
Since the session I have realised so many benefits. It was personally rewarding in ways I never imagined; I set out what I intended to do by facing my fear of public speaking, pushing myself out of my comfort zone and and increasing my confidence in this area, and I also made many new connections. However, the most significant benefits came from the feedback I received, both through session evaluation forms and from delegates who took the time to get in touch personally. It was wonderful to hear from people who found the session useful, some having been promoted or secured new roles.
As we progress in our careers I feel we have a duty to use our experience and privilege to help others. Hearing that you have helped or inspired someone on their own journey, in whatever small way, is incredibly satisfying and, for me, there is no greater reward.
Presenting a session at conference was an amazing experience and I would highly recommend anyone considering submitting a session proposal to do so. I am grateful to AUA for providing the opportunity and the platform to engage with colleagues across the sector.
Feeling inspired by Gill’s ambition and enthusiasm? That’s fantastic! Why not look into delivering a session proposal at the AUA Annual Conference 2019 yourself? Find out more.