The March member spotlight is on Merrill Jones, AUA Advocate for the University of Sussex.

Why do you do it?

I joined the AUA at the suggestion of my line manager as I was considering my onward professional development. She recommended the AUA as an opportunity to network with like-minded professional administrators and to understand the HE sector and environment. I couldn’t agree with this more. My very first event enabled me to see that I was not alone in terms of the challenges and experiences of working at a University and I found it both enlightening and refreshing. I also found the AUA CPD Framework helpful in considering my development and that of staff that I later came to line manage. As my career has progressed I have sought to share this with others in order for them to also experience the benefits.

What has been the best bit so far?

It’s so hard to identify the “best” bit as there have been quite a few highlights for me. One of them was in being approached to become the University of Sussex advocate as this enabled me to start to relaunch the AUA at Sussex. I identified my sponsor and was able to start on a programme of promoting the AUA and developing a Sussex network. The second highlight was working with Organisational Development at the University to start to embed the AUA CPD Framework in our appraisal process.

The final highlight was having the opportunity of working with Alison Curry the University of Brighton Advocate on a South Region Symposium. I felt privileged to work with both Nikki Sowersby as the Deputy Regional Coordinator and Alison on presenting the Symposium themed around “Finding Solutions”. The event went successfully and it was great to meet and speak to all the attendees.

Would you recommend the role?

Yes, definitely. It provides an opportunity to work with staff that you wouldn’t necessarily in your day to day working life as well as sharing some fantastic resources that enable onward professional development. It also enables me to give back to the institution that has supported me in my development. It is deeply satisfying to see staff develop in their roles and to have an opportunity to support them.

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