Do what feels right for you at the time.
More about Louise
After completing her BA (Hons) in Humanities at NTU in 2002, Louise Mounteney went on to do her Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education Administration, Management and Leadership. We caught up with her to find out how things have been going.
Why did you choose to study at NTU?
I chose NTU for my undergraduate degree because it offered a degree in Humanities. I wanted to study close to home and no other local University offered such a course. Within the degree I was able to study a range of subjects within it (I chose English, Media and Cultural Studies and Psychology and Sociology) which really appealed to me. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my career and was interested in continuing my study beyond my A levels – two of which were in English and Media studies, so this was the ideal course for me.
What did you learn – both inside and outside of lectures?
As quite a shy person from a small town I really enjoyed meeting and working with students from a range of diverse backgrounds. I learnt to be a little less shy, how to work in a team and how to present. This really boosted my confidence. At the time I really hated presenting to groups which makes me laugh now, as this is one of my favourite parts of my role.
What does your current day involve?
As a Valuing Ideas and Strategic Research Themes Coordinator I support the development of research at NTU and work closely with research leaders to raise NTUs profile as a research inclusive university. As with most jobs there are few typical days and I’m fortunate to have quite a varied workload.
I work both from home and on campus and have great flexibility meaning I can often work in a place of my choosing, which I find so beneficial to my wellbeing. If I’m working from home, I’ll start the day by doing an online exercise class with a colleague, I find this gears me up for the day. The day will then consist of a mixture of online meetings, emails, preparing for upcoming events and writing reports. When I’m on campus I’ll mainly be involved in meetings and events and really enjoy the face-to-face interaction with both internal and external colleagues. Although my day-to-day role is working with staff, I am also a facilitator on the Consent is Everything programme which is run for first year students so sometimes I’ll be presenting one of the sessions on campus. I enjoy seeking out new opportunities, especially those which widen my network and support the NTU community.
What attracted you to this field of work?
I felt I had the necessary attributes to be a good administrator – I am methodical, have good attention to detail, can work on my own initiative and am also a great team player, so administration was a really good fit for me. In terms of research administration, which I have now worked in for 10 years, we have such a wealth of research expertise available at NTU and I find the research undertaken at NTU fascinating. It’s such a privilege and a pleasure to be able to support its development and this has encouraged me to continue working in this area.
What challenges have you faced?
Having enjoyed studying at NTU I felt a pull back to the University but was unsuccessful in 3 interviews before being appointed to my first role at the University. I’m a very determined person and I think the knock backs helped drive me forward and inspired me to not give up. I took on board feedback received from my unsuccessful interviews and made more time to think of stronger answers to scenario type questions. I’d say the most important things to do when faced with a setback are to think positively, consider what is within your control to change and keep trying. Following these principles have served me well to help me through challenging times in both my professional and personal life.
What have been the highlights and biggest challenges of your career so far?
In March 2021 I started studying for a Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education Administration, Management and Leadership and in October 2021 I was appointed to my present role. Learning a new role, having to organise a much-awaited conference, and studying at the same time, whilst still trying to manage a home and social life was extremely challenging. As a self-confessed perfectionist, I sometimes don’t know when to stop, so sometimes I think I pushed myself too hard. However, I was so proud of delivering a successful conference and achieving a distinction in my studies, so out of my greatest challenge came some of my greatest highlights.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m still fairly new to my role so I’m planning on using the next year to really concentrate on furthering my knowledge and developing some new skills. My current role is much more strategic than my previous role so one of the first things I’m going to do is to shadow colleagues who have experience of strategic planning. I’m also planning on enrolling in the Postgraduate Diploma in Higher Education Administration, Management and Leadership in the next two years, with the aim to then complete my masters.
If you had a time machine, what would you go back and tell yourself at uni?
To have more confidence in my abilities. This applies to both my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees!
I think it’s important to stress that everyone’s journey is different, and some people have a clear idea of what they want to do after university, whilst others don’t. I certainly didn’t know what I wanted to do after my undergraduate degree and it took me quite some time to find the career for me and move into a job which I absolutely loved, however I tried not to compare myself to others and put too much pressure on myself knowing that doing that would make me unhappy. Do what feels right for you at the time.