Inside track - 8 December 2017 - Sarah Lund

FAQs with Sarah Lund, Student Education Programme Director

Sarah Lund 2017

Can you tell us a bit about your background?

I was a student at the University of Leeds in the mid 1990s, studying Environmental Science, before going on to do an MSc in Climate Change at UEA. From there I joined a graduate scheme with British Steel and then worked as an environmental consultant for EMCOR (facilities management) travelling across the UK, before settling back in Yorkshire.

For the last 14 years, I’ve worked for the Kelda Group (parent company of Yorkshire Water) in a variety of management and strategic roles including regulation; long-term strategic direction; sustainability; risk and audit; business change and, latterly, in large cross-organisational programme delivery.

What brought you to the University?

My passions lie in working with a large range of stakeholders to improve organisational effectiveness and there are plenty of challenges for the HE sector currently which make universities interesting places to work.

Why Leeds? I returned to the University in 2013 to do an executive MBA and really enjoyed reconnecting with the University and getting an insight into the HE sector. I was particularly attracted by the challenge of the role and the ability to make a difference in an organisation at the heart of my local region.

Can you tell us about your role?

My role is to establish and run a programme to enhance the processes and systems that underpin student education. Almost everyone who works or studies here interacts with these processes and systems. They include fundamental systems that hold student and curriculum information, through to processes that enable the student journey, from enquiry and admissions through to graduation and alumni and everything in between, such as student support, timetabling, assessment, employability etc.

There’s a lot to do, where do you start?

First, there is the current programme to complete and finalise over the next few months. This has included enhancements to the Minerva portal and a CRM for postgraduate taught admissions amongst other things.

Secondly, there’s the new programme to establish and a team to build. Obviously, we can’t do everything at once, so the first step is to focus effort on the fundamental systems and ensure that these are fit for the future. Alongside these, we’ll be looking at best practice and consistency in processes and the enabling systems to do this. The vision is for all our systems and processes - end to end – to work smoothly and efficiently, making it easier for people to do their jobs and providing a great student experience.

What has surprised you most about the University since joining?

Three key things:

  • How energising it is to work in a place where the people who will benefit from process and system enhancements are visible to me everyday.
  • How prolific email is and how little mobile phones are used to communicate between staff!
  • How much walking I’m doing!

What has been your proudest moment in your career so far?

I’m most proud of the time and effort I’ve put into supporting the development of team members and colleagues who I’ve mentored. Many have gone on to great new roles and are making a huge impact and I’m proud of that. As a full-time working mum – always balancing work and home - I’m also proud when sharing my experiences can help others.

What about your biggest challenge in your career so far?

Pulling together a 25-year strategy for the water sector, with numerous stakeholders and viewpoints, dealing with regulatory ambiguity and uncertainty about what risks would be faced in the future regarding climate change, demographics, asset condition etc.

What’s your most frequently asked question?

From me to others: What systems do you use? What do they do?

From others to me: What’s going to be in the programme?

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Everything! I like to cram as much in as possible: family time, house renovations, sport, playing piano and flute, baking….I’m a keen runner and there is nothing better than an early morning, long run across the moors with the dog. I’m just not good at sitting still!

What three items would you want on a desert island?

Assuming I’m there for a while and my basic needs are covered, I’d want a piano, the Oxford English Dictionary and an unlimited supply of pencil/paper (does that count as three?!) I think I’d quite enjoy it!

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