Meet Dawn Turpin | AUA Career Stories

My AUA Journey

The AUA website sets out the reasons why you should join the AUA from networking and development to events, resources and more. But what is being a member really like?


Dawn Turpin
Dawn Turpin Consulting Ltd


 The early years – AUA membership

I was encouraged to join the AUA very early in my career by a senior colleague at the Open University (OU) and so I did. I attended my first conference that year which was a bit of a blur although I do remember enjoying the gala dinner!

For the next few years, apart from attending one or two events aligned to my personal development needs, I confess I wasn’t sure what benefit I was getting aside from a growing pile of unopened Perspectives on my desk….

I needed to think more ‘strategically’ about my membership!

The primary and secondary years – AUA advocate

With career aspirations in mind and using the CPD Framework self-assessment tool I identified my development needs and formed a personal development plan. Action 1 – become an advocate for the AUA at the OU.

Together with another colleague (top tip for busy members – share the workload) we focussed initially on delivering a programme of events at the OU before moving on to develop a collaborative programme of events with colleagues at the Universities of Northampton, Cranfield and Buckingham.

Being an advocate was great fun and enabled me to demonstrate how I developed others and worked together with others to achieve objectives.

In terms of developing self – well I was quietly spoken and avoided public speaking / giving presentations at all costs.  Being an advocate enabled me to develop my confidence in speaking in front of audiences, to grow my personal brand and to grow my networks – a key benefit of the AUA which I had been neglecting.

During that time, I was successful in getting a promotion at the OU, achieved Network Good Practice and Network Contribution awards from the AUA and became an accredited member recognising the impact and influence of ongoing professional development on my professional practice.

The university years – AUA trustee

My time as an advocate and my role in university governance had increased my interest in engaging with the wider context. I wanted to still be involved with the AUA and an advert for becoming an AUA trustee caught my eye. I found out more through talking to some of my networks, applied and was successful serving on the Board for two years.

Being a trustee enabled me to continue to develop myself and grow my networks as well as contribute my expertise to the development of the AUA in the future. It also enabled me to return to the annual conference and those gala dinners! 

The postgrad years – AUA consultancy

After 20 years at the OU I took voluntary severance earlier this year and am embracing change through a new way of working as an independent consultant. So far, I am loving it! –  not least because it is enabling me to maintain my connection with, and enhance my contribution to, the AUA which has given so much to me.

So, my main message – you get out of life what you put in. The AUA is ‘the’ professional association for staff working in higher education – make the most of it!

Dawn is a Consultant with the AUA. To find out more about AUA Consultancy and how we can help you and your institution, please go to our Consultancy Page.

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