The August member spotlight is on Phil Rowsby, Senior Governance Officer and an AUA Advocate at Heriot-Watt University.

Why do you do it?

I joined the AUA in 2016 when I started working at Heriot-Watt as a temp as I thought it might help if I applied for a permanent role at a later stage which it did. I enjoyed attending the Annual Conference and had spoken at two Change Forum Events in London and wanted to try and get some AUA activities going at Heriot-Watt so took on the role of Advocate.

I have good connections across the university which I thought would help when asking senior staff to tell their ‘career stories’, as these were the type of sessions members asked for. The sessions have gone down well, not just with Heriot-Watt AUA members but with non-members and AUA members from across the UK and further afield.

It’s good to widen your network – the AUA helps with this!

What has been the best bit so far?

There’s a few.

Ruth Coomber, one of the AUA Trustees, who I met online at an Advocates meeting offered to tell her career story at an event at Heriot-Watt which spurred me on to plan further sessions. We held events every other month during the last academic year – which is a good basis to build on with attendance being between 25 and 70 at each session.

One of the benefits of the pandemic has been that, instead of having small in-person local events, I’ve been able to open talks for all AUA members, it’s also been great to have participants from all our Heriot-Watt campuses (Dubai, Edinburgh, Galashiels, Malaysia, and Orkney) attend the sessions.

When I’ve remembered to hit ‘record’ on Teams the sessions have not only gone onto the AUA website but have also been used and publicised by colleagues in Professional and Organisational Development at Heriot-Watt.

We have got several new AUA members which is good to see.

Would you recommend the role?

Yes – I’ve enjoyed engaging with AUA members at Heriot-Watt – many of them I wouldn’t normally see day-to-day – even before the pandemic!  Being an Advocate has also been a good way of meeting other AUA members – I’d recommend opening any events to the full membership if you can and the technology can handle more participants.

I think once you’ve held one event it’s not so daunting to set up others – the joy of copy and pasting the invites, slides, etc.

If you are thinking about becoming an Advocate for your institution I’d say give it a go – there’s always members and staff who are happy to help, offer support, etc! We hadn’t had any AUA events for several years and it’s always good to get positive feedback after a session!