Sam Bayley FAUA, Department Manager at University of York | Career Stories

1. I’m responsible for…all operational and administrative areas within the Department of Sociology. There are a number of different ways I could explain my role – a Head of Operations or Chief of Staff, for example, but essentially my role is to keep the Department running and provide the Head of Department with the appropriate support. Supported by the central services at York, my team delivers ‘cradle to grave’ services for prospective and current students, plus alumni, and also support academic colleagues to make their lives as easy as possible. I am the liaison point for a number of people across the University.

2. My typical day…is very busy and often unpredictable! Depending on where we are in the year, I could be working on departmental strategic planning and work loading, handling management accounts, dealing with HR and recruitment issues, developing employability initiatives with colleagues and students, dealing with estates issues, delivering performance reviews, handling student complaints (or sometimes, compliments!), sitting on University committees, or any other number of things. No doubt by the time you are reading this I will have discovered some new things to occupy my time!

I’m also fortunate enough to be involved in a number of things around the University which fall outside my ‘day job’. I sit on the University Council, provide strategic support to one of our Colleges, and am also a workplace mediator – supporting colleagues around the institution who have encountered relationship difficulties.

Luckily, I love variety and really enjoy being a ‘generalist’, tying together lots of threads to deliver our strategy.

3. My first job in HE was…spending a year as a sabbatical officer on the Students’ Union when I completed my degree – this was my first full-time job, and I still try to look back to that experience, to consider things from a student experience.
I rejoined York and the HE sector in 2010, and spent several years working in different roles in the Timetabling and Accommodation central service teams. These were great teams to work in and they gave me insights about university operations which really help me in my current role.

4. The AUA helped me…in so many ways. I joined the AUA in 2011 and fairly soon afterwards I was enrolled on the PGCert, which opened my eyes to the world of HE. At the same time, I found the networks that opened up to me both at my own institution and around the country were invaluable in helping me develop. This inspired me to take on the role of Branch Advocate and then Network Coordinator for Yorkshire and the North East. As part of my PGCert, I was elected to represent other participants on the Board of Studies, and this later helped me secure a role on the Board of Trustees, a position that I still hold now.

These voluntary roles have really accelerated my development; I have been able to build my strategic capabilities and fill in gaps of my experience that I wouldn’t get from my substantive positions. On top of this, the opportunities to attend AUA conference and other training events have really been invaluable. I have delivered a number of working sessions at Conference too, and this helped me connect with other like-minded people (and even take on a bit of consultancy) – so I’d really recommend it.

In short – it’s hard to imagine where I’d be without my engagement with the AUA!

5. If I didn’t work in HE I’d like to be working as…a travel consultant. I love to travel and I think my background in sales and customer service would help me selling holidays! Of course I’d have to do meticulous research into the different destinations (by visiting them for several weeks at a time).

6. The best thing about working in HE is…the feeling that you can make a difference to students and some really quite marvellous research, by working with some wonderful people in some fantastic teams. The AUA exemplifies how colleagues can improve the sector through collaboration and networking – I’ve never yet had a colleague who isn’t happy to pick up the phone and talk me through something new.