By Dr Sara Bacon, NTDC Centre Manager
The NTDC attended the University of Newcastle’s inaugural Professional Services Conference held on the first of July.
The day started in the new Newcastle Helix Centre on campus. This impressive site is an important focus for research, teaching and public events and will be the location for a collaborative technical event held in June 2020 between NU and NTDC (keep an eye out for more information on this coming soon).
In his welcome Dr John Hogan, Newcastle University Registrar, stated how important the relationship and parity of esteem is to all staff at the University. Of the 3450 Professional Services (PS) staff at NU, over 750 were able to attend the conference and christen the new auditorium in the Frederick Douglass Centre for the welcome speech.
VC Chris Day and Deputy VC Julie Sanders also spoke of the importance of the collaboration of PS and academics working together to achieve ‘From Newcastle. For the World’.
The focus of the day was on NU Professionals building a future and working together.
Leadership challenges – trying to be brilliant at everything and wondering why you never quite manage it, led by Liz Huston, Operations Manager (School of Engineering)
This workshop gave examples of what ‘facts’ you have about yourself and how these may be a barrier to achieving successful leadership of a team. Small discussions on why ‘if it’s not brilliant it’s not valued’ and debunking ‘there are no prizes for coming second’ were linked to swimming competition analogies shared by the speaker.
There was recognition of the core skills needed to be a good leader and to be able to manage a successful team. There were also thoughts on quotes from business leader Richard Branson – “train people well enough so they can leave but treat them well enough so that they don’t want to”, and Dumbledore to Harry Potter- “It is a curious thing, Harry, but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those who, like you, have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that they wear it well.”
Lunch gave the chance to network and visit the many stands and posters that were focused on sharing what staff do in professional services.
Mel Leitch and Linda Robinson had a poster on ‘Addressing common issues facing technicians across the HE sector’ with Technician Commitment impact examples including running a NTDC Technical skills audit in September 2019.
Another poster presented the outreach work of a work experience programme led by technicians in the Life Science School, which gives school students the opportunity for a well structured and science based week.
Newcastle Helix – a game changer for our city, region and University
Tom Bramald (Newcastle Helix Marketing Manager) gave a detailed explanation on the innovation and collaboration of Newcastle Helix, involving Better Living (Easier, Healthier, Smarter and Longer) and involving community, business, academic and residential development. You can find out more about the Helix here and watch their Vision Video here.
The Newcastle helix is not just a building project with buildings (Core, USB, Catalyst, Lumen, Biosciences, to name a few) but a collaboration with the council and businesses to host events, house businesses, aid research and support sustainability and the community.
There is, for example, the living lab which facilitates research with an energy storage test bed to monitor energy use in buildings, an urban observatory to collect data to understand how cities work (including air quality, traffic flow, temperature) and an electric vehicle filling station that aims to provide a charging time of several minutes instead of hours.
The regeneration of the old brewery site is to provide a world leading centre for business, research, teaching and community, not just a science park. Represented by participation in a region wide arts trail with sponsorship of an Elmer elephant in the Great North Parade (Electric Ellie!) to support the local charity St Oswalds hospice.
The day ended with a description of how the path to learning is paved with challenge, a presentation by Professor Herb Kim and followed by poster and spot prizes.
Overall, this was an extremely positive event highlighting the importance of professional services staff at Newcastle University in an outstanding venue.