I’ve been working at the University for over 6 years, and just over a year ago I started in a new role as Technical Manager in the Faculty of Engineering and Design following the retirement of Graham Mott. When I told colleagues about this, the most common response was ‘Well done, that’s great… What does Graham actually do?’
So I thought I’d share a bit about what my role involves, some of the highlights from my first year in post and what I’m planning next.
What do I do?
As Technical Manager I am responsible for the day-to-day management of technical staff and laboratory & workshop facilities in ACE and Mechanical Engineering. This involves the usual staff management activities such as supervision, SDPR, recruitment, training and development. I also liaise with estates staff and external contractors to arrange and coordinate building works, repairs and alterations to the facilities.
A key part of my role is that of Safety Coordinator for both departments. Through this I advise staff and students on any health and safety issues, carry out risk assessments, give safety briefings to all new students, and investigate any accidents and incidents that occur. I also organise regular safety inspections, coordinate the departmental fire wardens and first aiders, and take part in the department safety committees.
Other activities I take part in include purchasing for the department, liaising with suppliers to source equipment and to arrange maintenance and statutory testing of existing equipment. I get involved in various wider University projects such as being part of a group looking at how we can improve our management and tracking of chemicals around campus. I’m also involved in teaching geology on the 2nd year Civil Engineering field trip, which is great fun! Here’s a photo from this year’s trip.
Highlights from the past year
Looking back, the year seems to have flown by as ever, and a surprising amount has happened! Here are a few things:
One of my objectives in my first year has been to set up safety inspections, and we now have regular and focussed inspections involving representatives from different job roles. It may not sound exciting to you, but it’s very satisfying to me knowing that we now have a system in place to keep everything in check!
I’ve been fortunate enough to have found time this year to complete my ILM Certificate in Leadership and Management, which has really helped as I’ve settled into the new role by giving me greater confidence as a manager. It’s great that the University has recently announced the 3Ls programme and I’d encourage anyone in a management role to consider this opportunity.
Throughout the past year or so, there has been work taking place between technicians, technical managers and HR staff looking at some of the big issues affecting technical staff. Work on this is ongoing (see below), but one of the initial outcomes of this was that we organised a ‘Technical Staff Development Week’ in July. This was a great week of training and networking opportunities for technicians along with inspiring talks by academics around the University. One of the main themes fed back following the week was how much staff enjoyed discovering what else is going on around the University, and meeting those in similar roles to them. My hope is that in the coming months and years we can build on this and hold future events and shared development activities for technicians across campus.
I’m delighted that the University has recently signed up to the Technician Commitment, and pleased to have been appointed institutional lead for this initiative. The Technician Commitment is a nationwide initiative aiming to maintain the quality of technical staff needed across all disciplines in higher education and research by focussing on four areas: visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability. This will be an exciting opportunity to shape the path the University takes in addressing some of the key challenges facing the technical workforce.
I’m also looking to submit an application for fellowship of the HEA through the Bath Scheme in the coming year. So many technical staff (and other professional services staff) make a huge and valuable contribution to teaching and supporting learning across the University and I hope to be able to encourage more technical staff to gain recognition of their contribution.
Finally I’ll finish with another picture. I’m proud to be part of a talented team of technical staff – this is a recent photo of those working in Mechanical Engineering*. I’m the one directly in front of Julian, for those that don’t know me!
*Other technicians are available.