Meet Zac Wilde | AUA Career Stories
Zac Wilde AFHEA l Higher Education Administration Intern, Directorate for the Student Experience | The University of Manchester
1. How long have you worked in HE and what was your first position?
For 17 months I worked within the Teaching and Learning Support Office as a Graduate Peer Support Intern. In this role I enjoyed working both independently and as a part of teams related to Peer Support and student engagement. At the University of Manchester over 1,800 higher year students volunteer to help first year students through structured Peer Support. In this role I worked with Peer Support schemes to support recruitment; deliver training and workshops to volunteers; design novel and dynamic activities to increase student motivation and engagement; and liaise with academic and Professional Services staff across the institution.
I also volunteered as a Reverse Mentor for the Director for the Student Experience and provided him an insight into the current Student Experience, covering student support, volunteering and engagement.
For the past 10 months I have been pioneering the Higher Education Administration Intern (HEAI) role at The University of Manchester. This position is designed to mirror the second year of a graduate scheme, providing opportunity to understand administration, develop and implement business processes whilst gaining a deeper knowledge of HE and The University of Manchester. This builds on my previous intern role and provides me with complex challenges to further develop my foundation and to advance my career in Higher Education.
During my time in this role I also had the opportunity to gain Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy through the University’s LEAP programme and am working towards gaining Senior Fellowship.
2. What do you value most about working in HE?
I am passionate about HE and what I value most is the young people I work with every day. The opportunity to work with the diverse group that will comprise the next generation of workers, researchers, artists and world changers is incredibly exciting!
3. If you could do another HE job for a day, what would it be?
It’s a three-way tie between – catering, Estates and HR.
• Catering – I thoroughly enjoying cooking and it would be a fun challenge to do catering for a day, especially for a school banquet or formal meal at halls of residences.
• Estates – I currently work in one of the Victorian buildings on campus at Manchester and having collaborated with estates colleagues in the past think they have a fascinating challenge of maintaining the old while updating campus and proactively problem solving.
• HR – It’s such a massive area that I think we only see the tip of the iceberg of. I’d love to throw myself into a role in this area whether it was handling contracts, delivering staff development or vetting payments.
4. What do you think is the most overused phrase in HE?
“that’s not going to happen soon, as universities take too long to do anything.” – perhaps that may have been true of the sector in years prior but nowadays feels fairly outdated and an easy excuse. At a national scale we see institutions working to design their vision of the next 5, 10, 20+ years, considering voices from all levels of prospective students to directors and actively trying to future-proof.
5. What is your personal philosophy?
It’s a combination of ‘do it right or do it twice’ and ‘be a problem-solver, not a problem pointer-outer’. Both of these were taught to me at an early age and have really stuck with me, affecting the way in which I approach my work and personal life. I always strive to do things to a high standard for the benefit of everyone involved. Also, while it is helpful to have problems identified, it’s always nicer to provide solutions or at least a keenness to get ‘stuck in’ and work towards a solution as well.
6. What is the one thing you cannot resist?
I’ll always be drawn in by the tea round!
7. Where is your favourite place to be?
Camping, ideally in weather that is a bit warmer than we have currently in the UK! There’s something quite nice about getting away from the business of city life and spending time with those you care about while appreciating the outdoors.