Fifteen to One | Professor Jo-Anne Murray

Welcome to the latest instalment in our fascinating new Q&A feature series in which we put 15 challenging questions to one of our senior leaders.

Professor Jo-Anne Murray, who recently joined the University as Pro Vice-Chancellor: Digital Transformation

Appointment of the Pro Vice-Chancellor: Digital Transformation. September 2022

From key projects they’re working on to random claims to fame, we discover what really makes them tick!

Next up in the ‘hot seat’ is Professor Jo-Anne Murray, our Pro Vice-Chancellor: Digital Transformation.

Find out what inspires her… and how she came to have a royal connection!

Can you describe your role in 100 words?

My role is to lead digital transformation at the University to enhance our ways of working, our student experience and our research activities. First and foremost, digital transformation is about people, making our working lives easier so that we can all have a better work-life balance. It’s also about helping students to feel well supported and to be successful, as well as enabling innovation, collaboration and knowledge exchange in our research activities. 

How have your first few weeks been since joining the University?

My first few weeks have been absolutely brilliant – the best part has been meeting so many amazing people! 

What’s really impressed you about Leeds?

I’ve been blown away with how welcome everyone has made me feel. I love the friendly environment at Leeds, both within the University and the city. I would sum up the University of Leeds in three words: kind, ambitious, committed. 

What question have you most frequently been asked in your new role?

Have you moved to Leeds? The answer is: “Not yet!” My son is studying for his Highers, and once those are finished, we’ll move as a family. In the meantime, I’m staying in Leeds three nights a week and I really like the culture here. 

What are you most looking forward to working on?

I’m most looking forward to working on projects that will ensure we have a solid digital foundation to build on, and where staff and students will experience improvements in working and studying. 

Is there something, or someone, that has inspired you in your career?

My mum inspired me in my career. She worked two jobs to support us and always told me that I could achieve anything I put my mind to. Having that person who believes in you is a game changer, and I hope I’ve been, and continue to be, that person for others. 

We all have that professional or personal achievement we’re incredibly proud of – can you tell us yours?

I left school at 16 to care for my mother, who was too ill to work at that time. Later, I completed an HNC then an HND and that enabled me to go to university. I was the first in my family to go to university and came from an under-privileged background. However, I’m proud of my background – it taught me that hard work pays off and I hope I can help others in similar circumstances to achieve their goals. I also hope my story helps others to see there’s not always a straight path to achieving your goals, and that’s absolutely OK. Just don’t give up on your dreams because life gets in the way!

What do you wish you’d known at the start of your career that you know now?

No-one is born resilient. Being resilient doesn’t mean never failing or never feeling overwhelmed. It’s about experiencing those things and getting back on the horse again (the reason for using that analogy will become apparent later on in this feature!). 

What are your campus highlights so far?

Seeing all the students take part in Campus Live is fantastic!

Have you found a favourite location on campus?

I’m partial to a mocha coffee, so I do like to visit Caffè Nero quite a lot!

What’s still on your ‘to do’ list to visit?

I want to visit all the schools in the University – I would like to get to know everyone and make sure everyone feels they can input into anything relating to digital transformation. 

What do you do to relax away from University life?

I ride horses. I compete in dressage, and anyone who rides will know you can’t take any stress on to the back of a horse! 

Where’s your favourite travel destination and why?

My favourite place is Anstruther in Fife. We had a caravan on the beach there when the kids were young and it was just so relaxing. 

What’s your random claim to fame?

I met Princess Anne at a conference and I helped organise where she attended the dinner! 

Register | Transforming our staff and student experience 

Are you interested in hearing more about the work of the Transformation Office (TO)? 

Join us at an online event to learn how the TO is improving the experience of our University community. Taking place from 11am to 12 noon on Monday 12 December, you will hear from Professor Jo-Anne Murray, together with Jenny Baynes, Director of the Transformation Office, and Rachel Brealey, our Chief Operating Officer.

TO Programme Directors will also be on hand to share our progress to date and answer any questions you might have about change or transformational programmes at Leeds.

Further information

Check out our past Fifteen to One Q&A features, including:

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