Susannah Lamb and Philippa O'Connor – Head of Academic Quality (job-share)
Susannah and Philippa give us their thoughts on the benefits of sharing a Senior role, and how the flexibility of NTU has helped to combine their talents.
The work is even more fun with two. The problems get smaller, and the achievements are bigger and bolder.
I’d previously held the role on a full-time basis. Senior part-time roles in Higher Education are rare and when we were first considering a job-share arrangement, my colleagues in HR suggested we recruit externally. That’s when we were lucky enough to find Philippa!
Letting go of some of the things you’ve fought hard to achieve previously can be a challenge, but Philippa’s new ideas and approaches deserved their own space. And with that, our collaboration soon came into its own. With Philippa, I’ve got someone to share ideas with, and someone who helps me to solve problems. That’s invaluable.
It’s great to know that things at the office are in safe hands when I’m away. Philippa came from outside NTU, which means she’s been able to approach the work and some of the key issues as a blank sheet. That’s a great way of addressing deep-seated challenges that have been hanging around for too long. We play to our respective strengths – and as time goes by, I’m noticing more and more benefits to our job-share arrangement. Plus, she can reach the top of the white board!
You need to get on well with your partner to make a job-share really work. We’ve got similar interests, and we’ve always worked to the same set of principles and values – generosity, trust and loyalty.
I’d been used to being an expert in my previous role, with a deep knowledge of how things worked – both in my team, and throughout the wider organisation. So to be honest, I’d got used to calling the shots, and I rather enjoyed it! There are obvious challenges with job-sharing – the potential for uncertainty if it’s not organised right, and the fact that you can feel a bit like the junior partner coming into it. But the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. Susannah’s knowledge and experience of NTU and her support were massive plus points at the start. Since then we’ve learned so much together.
We split the week so that we both work three days, with an overlap day. We’ll use that time together to cover the things that need both of us – catch-ups, meetings, and the important “big ticket” events and projects. We manage three colleagues, and they’ve been amazing in adapting. We’re very lucky.