Martha Horler, Data and Compliance Manager at Futureworks | Career Stories
The latest addition to our series of career stories is Martha Horler’s professional journey in higher education. If you’d like to share your higher education path with us, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your expression of interest.
How long have you worked in HE and what was your first position?
I started working in HE in 2003, six months after leaving university. It was a complete accident, as I had originally planned to work in IT as my degree was in Computing. However, that year the bottom fell out of the IT market, and there weren’t many jobs available. I applied for a wide range of jobs and was offered a position as a Clerical Assistant at Manchester Met Uni on a one-year contract. I never expected to be in this sector for over 15 years, but I am glad it has worked out that way! Most of my career has been in large institutions, but I have recently moved to a small alternative provider, and so far, it has been a lot of fun.
What advice do you have for prospective AUA members?
Get involved. The AUA is very much an organisation that you get out what you put in, so have a look at what is going on and find things to get involved in, whether that is with your branch team, local network or nationally. When I joined I initially went to conferences and events, but over time, I have been able to get further experience by organising events myself, writing for the newsletter, and presenting sessions on various topics. The team at the AUA are super helpful, so if you are not sure what to do, just get in touch with them.
What does professionalism mean to you?
For me, professionalism is about integrity. Being honest with your colleagues, maintaining ethical behaviour in your work, and fairness when dealing with students. Everything else can be learnt, but I believe integrity is the basis of good character and something we can all aspire to.
When I joined I initially went to conferences and events, but over time, I have been able to get further experience by organising events myself, writing for the newsletter, and presenting sessions on various topics. The team at the AUA are super helpful, so if you are not sure what to do, just get in touch with them.
What do you think is the most overused phrase in HE?
“Let’s get a working group to look at this”. I have spent many years working on projects and initiatives that have started with this phrase, and none of them have succeeded because of the working group – they succeed (or not) due to the people working on fixing the problem and the skills they can bring to the task. I think that in HE we have a tendency to think that convening a group to discuss something will fix the problem and moving to a small provider has certainly been a breath of fresh air in that respect – now when I come across a problem the response has been “well, go fix it”.
What would you most like to tell yourself at age 13?
I would tell my younger self to not worry about career progression too much, instead to focus on work they enjoy. I learnt this quite late on, but once I figured it out I was much happier. I very much believe in the phrase “find a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life”.