Member Spotlight: PgCert Success

Kelli Wolfe MSc, AMAHEP, BSc, BA (she/her)Deputy Academic Registrar, Registry Services, University of Roehampton

My name’s Kelli Wolfe. I’m Deputy Academic Registrar for Registry Services at the University of Roehampton. I’ve been in HE for about 15 years now here in the UK, and I’ve worked across all different aspects of student administration, from recruitment and admissions through to pastoral care, student administration, records and enrolment, awards and certification, credit control… if it’s got something to do with students, I’ve probably spent a bit of time doing it. I previously worked in a small private provider, and I’ve been at Roehampton now for six years. So, I’ve got an interesting breadth of experience. I like to refer to my time at the private provider as ‘HE boot camp’, because it was so very much in such a truncated amount of time.

I’ve been a member of AHEP since 2015, and I did the PgCert through the AUA and then went on to finish the full masters with NTU in Higher Education Administration Management and Leadership. I was a much more junior member of staff when I started and I have risen through the ranks, if you will, into a more central, more senior management role. I was a manager of a single academic services team when I started the PgCert, and I’m now managing six teams across registry services essentially. So, it was immediately applicable to the daily job.

Immediate benefits of the PgCert:

I’d say on one hand it was whilst I was studying, things were immediately relevant. What we were studying in the projects and the assignments that I was writing, made perfect sense. It made more sense of the business as usual. As things were coming down the pipeline, it was like, ‘Oh, I see how this relates to the theory that I’ve just been studying’. So, it was it was really, really relevant and helped me make better decisions, or at least better interpret why those decisions were being made above me.

I could help operationalise those things in a more strategic way and understand what the strategic goals of my employer are and how that impacts our daily work… the choices that I could make. I could also get my team to be more strategic and to be working on the stuff that matters most, whereas I think before it was so easy to get caught up in the momentum and the constant waves crashing over you. In HE, it can be relentless, but it helps me also then direct my team to hopefully make better choices and to understand the bigger picture, to really understand the context in the sector much, much better than I did prior to doing the course.

Extra skills:

I learned more about the history of HE in the UK because I didn’t do my schooling here. I didn’t grow up here. I am a transplant to the UK, and I suppose anybody who hasn’t worked for a long time in the sector won’t know some of the history behind some of the decisions happening and some of the problems that we’re now facing. One of the other fundamentally helpful things about the studies that I did was the module on leading change and managing people through change.

For me, it was about becoming a research-informed practitioner and what that means. You know, we operate off the cuff, and we end up reinventing the wheel so often just trying to survive and trying to get through our jobs. But, by studying the theory and its application, you suddenly know, when you’re sat in a meeting or you’re dealing with a personnel issue or some big project that you’ve got to find a way to operationalise, is that suddenly the theory makes you go, ‘Oh, there’s a framework I can use for that!’

Reinforcing good practice:

I knew for quite a while that I wanted to go into postgraduate study but deliberated for a long time on where to focus my energies. When I saw the AHEP PgCert, I thought, there’s something that would be actually useful instead of just a piece of paper. I was really attracted to the work-related context and wanted something that brought on the job learning and felt like it was less something bolted on and ‘one more extra thing’ to do.

In general, I think professional development gives us the tools to be at our best in the world, you know… to be the best deputy academic registrar or to be the best program administrator, the best finance administrator, whatever your role is to be your absolute best in that and to bring your skills and strengths out in a way that enhances them and helps you. I think for me it’s about feeling more fulfilled. We spend so much of our lives at work, running around and the firefighting and the problem solving – I want the work that I do and the effort that I’m putting out into the world to make a difference.

And so that professional development just helps me stay on top of it, sharpens my skills, it keeps me fresh, it keeps me interested. And in the meantime, you know, when you’re doing it through an organisation like AHEP, you’re building friends and colleagues along the way. By helping reinforce that good practice and sharing the trials and tribulations and the ideas and the excitement, it keeps us all from looking too much inward on our own troubles and it kind of keeps us moving forward together – as a sector and as a community of practice. 

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