Veronica was asked by members of the University of Bath’s AUA to talk about her personal career path and how she came to be Dean of the School of Management and her role as Vice-President of corporate engagement.
From taking the wrong course, sampling various roles, saying no to a promotion and finding the time to have a family, Veronica reassured us that she had not set out a determined trajectory with an end goal of being a Dean.
Veronica described a feeling of slight disillusionment after leaving university, which she now attributes to having chosen a degree course which was not right for her. Her subsequent aim to do something completely different led her to temporary roles of a varying nature and eventually to a commercial role with a firm of national commercial estate agents. She realised through this that although the nature of the work was not quite right, she had developed a fascination for 'the workplace', the people within it and how it operated.
Her values steered her into the charitable sector where she first managed a team and was promoted to regional manager, so her career was on track. When she fell pregnant she vowed to return to full-time work promptly. As many new mothers find out, this plan took a change once the reality struck home. Alongside motherhood, Veronica studied for a Masters and then a PhD which took her into academia and eventually to the University of Bath (twice!) and multiple children (five!). She took the daring decision to turn down an opportunity for progression from the University of Cambridge as it would compromise her role as a mother.
Veronica describes how testing experiences in her personal life and family obligations allowed her to gain perspective and resilience. She gave the AUA members some words of advice:
- Expose yourself to excellence and make your own luck
- Be prepared to take difficult decisions
- Be aware of what is happening externally as well as internally
- Make use of your support network
- Be prepared to compromise (spending less on holidays)
- Find someone who is confident in your skills who can be your spokesperson
Strong themes featured throughout including; appreciation of people/teams, collaboration, honesty, integrity and trust. These themes were emphasised in her responses to questions from the audience which drew our session to a close.