1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your new role as Head of International and Money Advice?
I’ve been at Royal Holloway for just two months but prior to that I’ve worked in higher education in the UK and abroad for over a decade and more specifically within specialist immigration and financial advice roles for the last eight years.
My new role as Head of International and Money Advice is to support the delivery of services within those two specific fields of advice that leads to an excellent student experience.
2. What are your main work priorities for your first six months?
On the money advice side, the current cost of living crisis means that students will need our services more than ever. The Financial Wellbeing Team are working hard to streamline a lot of our processes which will allow us more time to engage pro-actively with students and develop the necessary financial capability skills they’ll need both now and later in life.
For our international students, the International Advice Team already deliver some great programmes to welcome our September cohort to the UK and support the college’s overall internationalisation aims, these include our free airport pick-up service and New to the UK scheme. The goal is now to expand those programmes to ensure that international students who arrive outside September as well as those studying at our London campus benefit from the same experience and receive a similar level of support in helping them to adjust to life in the UK.
3. If you could give just one piece of money advice to students, what would it be?
Budget! Have a plan of what money will be coming in and what will be going out. The Financial Wellbeing Team are happy to sit down with any student and help them to do this and at the same time if things don’t quite go according to that plan then there’s support we can offer to help students meet their essential costs of living.
4. Which part of your role do you find most rewarding?
Working with students to find solutions to their problems. Worries about money or visas shouldn’t be the defining factor of any student’s experience at Royal Holloway. Knowing that we can help in a calm, professional and friendly manner and allow the student to focus on studying and taking advantage of all the other great opportunities that university life has to offer is what I find most rewarding.
5. What or who inspires you inside and outside of work?
I feel inspired anytime I see someone take a risk to better their own life. Within the office, I get to see that everyday working with our international students and knowing the sacrifices they’ve made and chances they’ve taken to move across the world, adapt to a new country and learning environment while leaving loved ones and their support network behind.
6. How do you like to spend your free time outside of work?
I’ve got two young children so my time outside work is very much dominated by them, but I enjoy playing and watching almost any sport although my real passion is cricket. I also love to travel and experience different cultures and I’ve been lucky enough to visit most parts of the world at some time or another. More recently I’ve taken up gardening and find looking after the vegetable patch I’ve got in the back garden a nice way to unwind at the end of the day.