Thea Gibbs (she/her)

Director of Operations, Faculty of Laws and Incoming Chair at Association of Higher Education Professionals

Thea Gibbs of University College London will be taking over the role of Chair

I’ve worked in four universities in a variety of roles, firstly in central and student support functions and then in academic departments leading brilliant teams of PS staff. I’ve developed my career as a generalist manager from a more specialist beginning, and love working alongside really bright, kind and dynamic colleagues in a sector where there is always something interesting going on, and scope to make a difference for both staff and students. 

For all my professional life I have been a member of the professional body associated with my work, first with the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) as a librarian, then The Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) as a careers service manager, and finally with the AUA.  I’ve always valued professional networks and the collegiality and friendship that comes from these connections, and the sense that you’re not alone in tackling complex issues. I don’t believe in reinventing the wheel, so learning about practice and solutions developed by counterparts in other institutions is incredibly valuable, and if we all contribute to this network of reciprocity, we make everyone’s life easier and can achieve more collectively.

What made you want to be a member of the Board of Trustees?

I’ve really enjoyed working with the Board and AUA colleagues over the last 2 years as we’ve thoroughly reviewed and refreshed the Association’s vision and strategy, making sure we continue to serve our members’ needs in a sector that never stands still.  I’m excited about how our association is evolving and about playing my part in ensuring HE professionals are valued and recognised for the highest standards of professionalism they bring, and for the contribution they make every day as capable and adaptable colleagues. I am proud to have the opportunity to champion HE professional service staff through my role as Chair of AHEP.

What are you most looking forward to as incoming chair of AHEP?

I’m very grateful to be taking over from my excellent predecessors Vikki Goddard and Amanda Oliver, who have laid the groundwork for where we now find ourselves.  In the last year Vikki has worked intensively with the Executive Director to bring the strategy development work to fruition ahead of the launch of AHEP at the recent conference, and we’re indebted to her for steering the Association over the last year.  I’m most looking forward to seeing the next phase of the AUA / AHEP making a positive impact in the sector and cementing its role as the go-to place for HE professionals to develop their skills, knowledge, confidence and career paths.

Throughout your career you’ll work with different teams, different bosses and different institutions on a whole heap of different projects, but AHEP is the one constant in your professional life. The community and networks you build with AHEP will underpin and enrich your time working in the HE sector, and can provide expertise and moral support whenever you’re stuck, as well as inspiration for new initiatives to keep things fresh. Moreover, the Association offers members a clear career pathway, regardless of your current position within the sector or your chosen future direction. We are dedicated to assisting you in navigating the challenges and seizing the opportunities that come your way, as you work to reach your professional aspirations. If you want to be part of a national network of thoroughly lovely people, then AHEP is for you!

What were your highlights from the Annual Conference?

Having spent several years of my professional life there, it was brilliant being back on Warwick campus, I loved the buzz of conversations and meetings of minds with new contacts and old colleagues, as well as the inspiring and engaging sessions we heard, such as by Professor Sasha Roseneil.  Another highlight would have to be the live music at the garden party and the gala dinner, and applauding two of my UCL colleagues as they received their PG Cert awards when I knew how hard they had worked on their studies.

At the end of my tenure, I hope to leave a thriving association that mirrors the diversity and richness of the professional services community across the entire sector. I aspire for our Association to be highly esteemed by individuals and institutions alike, as it makes a positive and lasting impact in the higher education realm. Through unwavering support for the careers of HE professionals, we will be instrumental in advancing their success and achievements.

View the latest from the AUA

‘Say hello to your new association…Welcome to the Association of Higher Education Professionals’
'Say hello to your new association…Welcome to the Association of Higher Education …
Do Academics Make the Best University Leaders? Yes? but……
Do Academics Make the Best University Leaders? Yes? but…… Development Monthly | …

Leave a Reply

0 comments on “Thea Gibbs of University College London will be taking over the role of Chair of the Association