Director of User Services Directorate, University of Edinburgh
Tell us about your background and journey to your current role
My background is in teaching, I qualified as an English Teacher as a foreign language in the early 1990s in Poland. My career path was really dictated by the demand of the English language in Business at that time, and I have taken the opportunity within that space by becoming an interpreter for British companies based in Poland, from there things have moved from languages to IT, where I realised I had a skill and drive for project and service management. By 2000 I was managing large IT infrastructure and transformation projects for one of the largest banks in the UK.
I have secured senior management roles in different organisations over the past 25 years, across Banks, IT Consultancy, Drinks companies and now the University of Edinburgh, predominantly working in the IT service, customer services and project areas.
Tell us about a typical day at work
I wish I had a typical day, it varies depending on time of the year and demand for my engagement. As I lead the team of 180 staff with 6 direct reports (senior managers) a lot of my time actually is spent on leadership and supporting my teams in their daily activities. I am part of multiple committees which I attend when required. Most days are split between quick catch up on email and the latest, and meetings with my customers, like students, project teams etc. I became very disciplined when I have 1 day per week when I try to have desk time, ensuring nothing is delayed or left unattended, like writing documents or strategy papers for example.
This year has been very exciting with my involvement in Service Excellence projects, namely HUBs, which is currently taking considerable amount of time. As a service provider I and my Team always strive to improve and work on enhancement of our services, so there is always something new going on.
What is your vision for data innovation and the Data Driven Innovation programme at the university?
I am not sure I have a vision as such, however data is becoming more and more crucial in any business or sector, data driven decisions for example is where I see myself more and more engaged. Access to data will enable us and other organisations to make informed decisions, analyse trends and formulate future strategies.
What are you particularly passionate about in your work?
I have always been very much people focused individual, my passion is in providing quality and consistency of service as well as help people develop and grow. We cannot have service without solid and well integrated Teams. So I do invest a lot of time in people. I find it very rewarding when I see results and when I see my staff empowered to make decisions and contribute to overall business. I have to say I am proud of all my reports and their Teams, in the difficult times we are in now (financial, politics, tighter timescales to deliver) I know I can rely on everyone to be always on point.
Do you work with any interesting data sets?
The majority of data I work with is support data, however it is fascinating what you can find out when you trend and analyse statistics, which we do to drive improvements and recommend changes. For me, it is all about Customer Service and how data and access to it helps us in understanding Customers and their needs.
What do you think are the biggest challenges for women and girls in data fields?
I actually didn’t feel I was challenged by being a woman or that my career in any way was blocked because I am a woman, to some extent, in fact, I think this helped me to positon myself at the right level when I needed to. I don’t think there are jobs just for men or just for women, I think if you are good at it go for it. I never shied from challenges and taking risks, and I always believed in myself even when I had set backs.
I think the society is changing where we have more and more diversity and equality, we need to keep moving with this trend. I think women are becoming more assertive and confident, we should not be scared if we fail but ensure get right back up. Sometimes failures and obstacle make us stronger and better at what we do.
What would you recommend to women and girls who’d like to do what you’re doing?
My advice to anyone regardless of gender, ability or race would be: always move with technology and ensure you are up to date with your skills, be patient, assertive but kind, and never give up. I also believe that honesty and transparency made me the leader I am now. My ever standing motto in life is: It is not what you say or do, but how you present yourself.
Move with technology and update your skills, be patient, assertive but kind, and never give up!