Autumn term fully underway…

As we are now fully embedded in the Autumn term and Christmas is not feeling that long away, I just wanted to provide another short update on what’s been happening over the last month and what’s coming up.

We received a fabulous number of nominations for the Professional Services Recognition Awards and as a member of the Super Panel I was proud to read about so many of your accomplishments. It’s truly humbling to read how individuals and teams are consistently striving to provide the best service to our customers, be it staff or students and I look forward to celebrating with many of you at the gala dinner later this month.

Now we have announced Mike Shore-Nye as our new Registrar, I am busy getting ready for his arrival. He is moving down with his family from Cheshire so they are busy looking at schools and houses. I am looking forward to not having to run two desks at the same time! But I have really enjoyed my stint in the COO chair and have learnt lots more about our work here and campus life. I have spent a lot of time in this last month looking at how we best utilise our space at Streatham Campus and have we got the right retail and food outlets. We may be having a new and exciting option in the New Year but I don’t want to spoil the surprise…!

I did promise to keep you updated on the progress of the Transformation Programme and I hope the timeline on the website helps to show you the key activity happening within each of the projects and also what has been achieved so far As previously mentioned, I will focus on the Transformation Programme in my COO talks in December so please don’t be afraid to ask a question. These forums are to give you a voice and to let me know what’s worrying you.

Also tonight I’m off to an Alumni Event in the House of Lords, very exciting but given todays’ date should I be worried?!

Farewell to the summer and hello to the start of a new academic year…

The new Autumn term is upon us, the students are returning and the campuses are once again a hive of activity. I know for many of us, a tremendous amount of work takes place throughout the summer months in preparation for the students’ return. I came in on the Sunday of Welcome Weekend to meet some of our new Freshers and the many staff, who came in from 0830-1800 on both days, to support Welcome Weekend. They were doing a great job from dealing with international students’ paperwork to administering new student ID cards. There were campus tours, walks around the city and a few tearful, anxious parents on the sidelines. This new student buzz is when the campus is at its’ best and I feel such a sense of pride working here.

You will have all by now received the call to nominate your colleagues for a Professional Service Recognition Award – please can I encourage you to take this opportunity to acknowledge colleagues who you really feel deserve to be rewarded. It’s great to see there are already comments on the PSRA social wall – and those of you who tweet, don’t forget the PSRA hashtag #UoEPSRA.

Another cause for celebration is the Diamond Jubilee. Our Staff Celebration for this will take place on Tuesday 29 September. It’s quite remarkable to reflect on how the University has grown over the last 60 years and we should all take pride in the part we play towards its’ achievements.

As many of us return after a summer break, we still have a lot more to do to embed the Professional Services Transformation and I know some of you will still feel anxious. This term we are going to be concentrating on embedding people into their Professional homes, agreeing our services and deliverables with our College and other Service customers and developing more training and development to allow people to develop, upskill and progress. We will keep you posted through the Transformation website so please do check it out. I also will be hosting COO talks during the week commencing 7th December at all four campuses so please make every effort to attend and ask questions! Look out for the details at 

On holiday, I’ve been reading this article about psychological responsibility by Professor Derek Mowbray – he has some great tips like ‘put an end to each day and enjoy your evening’, ‘keep a journal and record the good moments’ and ‘practice your calming breathing’. So if you see me taking a moment, it is not that I have just run up the hill from the Business School, no, I am practicing calm breathing! Whilst I do my dual role for the next few months, I suspect life will be a bit of a whirlwind so I am hoping these tips will help.

Graduation Week

Last week our Exeter campuses were filled with happy graduates and their fGetting ready for the procession with Michele Shoebridgeamilies as they celebrated their graduation. This was my first time taking part in the procession and it was a great experience to walk into the Great Hall and see all of our graduates and their proud parents as we passed by.

The Forum looked amazing with the balloons, decorations and the 15,000 cupcakes that were served throughout the week. Well done to all the teams that worked so hard to make it a special event for our Class of 2015!

On Saturday I spent the evening celebrating with our graduates at the Grad Ball. Everyone looked amazing and the Piazza had been transformed into a fun fair, which even had a Ferris wheel.  Here’s a photo of me with Professor Tim Quine on the Ferris wheel – who knew how good the HR office windows looked from this angle!


Saying thank you makes all the difference

Over the next week we will say goodbye to our colleagues and friends who are leaving the University under VSS. For many of us it is a time of sadness as we say goodbye to people we may have worked with for a long time. I’d just like to thank everyone who will be leaving the University for their contribution during their time here and to wish them the best of luck for the future.

Geoff Pringle, our COO, will also be retiring at the end of this month and I have been asked to take on the role of Interim COO whilst we appoint our next Registrar. I don’t need to tell anyone that Geoff’s will be some big boots to fill but I’ll try my best and I’m looking forward to working with everyone across the University.

The next few months will be a challenging but exciting time for Exeter. We have a new set of values and a new strategy which will set a clear path ahead for the University. I look forward to sharing more details with you in my upcoming blogposts.

Saying thank you makes all the difference

It was fantastic to see a video made by one of our international students to thank their housekeeper, Angela, for helping to make their time in Exeter extra special. We showed the video in the recent COO talk but if you haven’t seen it, I’ve included a link to it below as it really is worth a watch!

Watch the Thank you Angela video

We all know someone at the University who goes above and beyond the call of duty for their colleagues or for our students. Angela is a prime example of this and I think we could all do with being a little bit more ‘Angela’.

I’d love to hear about more ‘Angelas’ that you know of across the University so if you know of any please share their stories in the comments section below.

Life outside of the office

In my Christmas blogpost you may have seen that my daughter Charlotte was away travelling; she has now returned from her travels and I’m really excited to have her home!

I don’t know about you, but my life outside of the office seems to be all about weddings and hats at the moment. Wedding season is certainly upon us! First up (and most important) was the wedding of my ‘work daughter’ Sophie. To finish this month’s post here’s a photo of me with the beautiful bride at the wedding reception. Congratulations Sophie!



Email Workload

During the follow-up workshops to the Employee Engagement Survey last year, the subject of workload was widely discussed and in particular the impact of the volume of emails.

There’s no doubt email is a massive part of most of our working lives and individuals, teams and other organisations are trying to find the best way to get the most out of email without it impacting on workload and wellbeing.

I sponsor the Positive Working Environment programme and coming out of the survey, we were asked to consider defining a University-wide email policy. Our thoughts were that rather than imposing a policy that might not suit everyone, we should ask people for their own local guidelines or approaches to managing emails.  So I’d be interested to hear your thoughts and ideas.

I have already heard of a couple of examples:

“I’ve trained myself not to use email as a first resort and instead I phone people or drop by in person if I can.  It’s often quicker and is a nicer thing to do”

“In our team, the expectation is that when anyone is on holiday, you don’t send them emails”

Also I really do try hard to limit cc on emails and finally my most important rule NO SHOUTY CAPITALS!

Do you have any other local rules or guidelines on how to manage your email workload in your team? Please use this blog to comment and share.

Reflecting on 2014

January is always a time for reflecting on the year that has just past and looking forward to the year ahead. Often in the workplace (and in life) you can move from project to project without taking time to appreciate what has been achieved. January is an ideal time to look back on all the fantastic things we are working on; such amazing things are achieved at the University, it is important we don’t take them for granted.

Just within the HR Services team we have had many great achievements over the last 12 months: the first ever Staff Festival, the Time to Change pledge signing, International Women’s Day 2014 to name but a few.

2014 also brought us the highest level of response rate we’ve ever had from the Employee Engagement Survey and I’m really thankful to everyone who works at Exeter for helping us achieve that. The feedback was extremely helpful and this is something we will be working on over the coming months.

I hope everyone enjoyed their break over Christmas and had a Happy New Year. My Christmas was filled with family time as I went over to Hong Kong to visit my daughter who is away travelling. It was a fantastic city to visit and I would highly recommend it to anyone. But now back to work and my new personal goal – Boxing training with Tai up at the Sports Park.


The Hong Kong skyline

The Hong Kong skyline

Fire Safety training

The glorious sunshine we’ve had over the last couple of months has made it a pleasure to get out and about across campus. One of my favourite mornings recently was spent up at Hope Hall taking our Fire Safety course. Who knew there were so many different types of fire extinguishers and different ways of handling fires?

Not only did I learn a lot, I ticked off all my mandatory training and found out that letting off fire extinguishers (when you’re training, of course) is also a fantastic way of relieving stress. I can recommend the fire training to everyone, it was fantastic fun!

My top tip is to make sure you’re wearing flat shoes and a non-flammable coat!



Firing up the extinguisher on my Fire Safety course


September celebrations at the Staff Festival

Wellbeing is the word on everyone’s lips at the moment and up in HR we are no exception. In September we will be holding our first ever Staff Festival, a day to celebrate the people, places and things that make the University of Exeter a fantastic place to work.

My wellbeing and comms teams have been hard at work developing a schedule which I’m sure will provide a brilliant day. We will be joined by former athlete Sally Gunnell OBE who will take the floor of the Alumni Auditorium to talk about the importance of wellbeing in her career and for us all in the workplace. Art of Brilliance will be running a workshop on The Art of Being Brilliant to help us all be a little bit (more) brilliant. There will be music from the Strawdogs*, who will be playing a cover of my favourite summer song, Happy by Pharell Williams. I’m also keen to have my photo taken in the very large deckchair I’m told will be making an appearance on campus!

As this is our first ever festival we’ll be on the lookout for any tips or ideas on how we can improve it for future years. If the festival is a success we may even look to hold more regular all staff events throughout the year!


*Strawdogs will be playing at the Streatham Campus only. For more details on the Penryn Campus events please see:


Summer is a fantastic time to get out and about, take up a challenge or raise some money for charity. For my summer holiday this year I will be achieving all of these things…as I am off to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro!

As part of my preparation for the climb I signed up for fitness training up at the Sports Park. Thanks to Tai, I’m coming on a treat. He’s been putting me through my paces and getting me ready for my epic journey.

I am taking on the Mt. Kilimanjaro challenge to raise money for a charity very close to my heart, Young Bristol. Young Bristol is a charity that seeks to provide young people with opportunities to develop and discover their potential in safe environments across the city.

Think of me when I’m climbing that mountain – it will be interesting to see how I cope under such mental and physical pressure! For those that know me well, you know this will be taking me far out of my comfort zone. I will be tweeting my progress so please follow me @jamd2jones.

I would love to hear about your own exciting challenges over the summer or coming months!


Spring Shadows

Spring has finally arrived in Exeter and I’m enjoying seeing the campus blossom into such beautiful colours.

Over the coming weeks I will be joined by several colleagues who have taken up my offer of shadowing me for the day. I’m a real fan of shadowing; it is a really valuable activity in the workplace and I try to invite people to come shadow me wherever I go.

Last week, I had the pleasure of spending the day with James Eva, one of our Executive Officers in the Business School. James is an alumnus of the University and has joined us from DEFRA, bringing plenty of skills that we need to use more widely. As part of my schedule for the day, James and I attended a University level strategic planning meeting. Having James alongside me reminded me how critically important it is when we are doing things as Professional Services to always make sure we’re also thinking of it from an academic lens. I hope James learnt as much from the experience as I did from him. It was great to be offered a different perspective on the work we are doing by having James by my side.

My shadowing experiences always remind me how many talented people we have working for the University. I am keen to make sure that we are managing our talent really well and are able to develop and reward them appropriately. My team and I will be looking at this over the coming months.

With the arrival of Spring and its longer brighter evenings I have now been able to start getting out for my evening run again. I must admit that over the Winter I did let my jogging slip a bit, but now I’ve started again, I’m reminded what a fantastic antidote exercise is to any stress. I’m looking forward to some summer evening runs and, hopefully, I will finally get to that spinning class up at the Sports Park!

If there’s anyone who would like to come and shadow me then please get in contact with Sophie Hewitt (

Hope everyone enjoys a great Easter break!


Quote from James

“I thoroughly enjoyed my day shadowing Jacqui Marshall. It was interesting to see how a member of the senior team operates, and to get a glimpse of how central professional services fit into the University context. Jacqui and her team were very welcoming, and I would more than recommend spending a day with another team to gain a different perspective on the work that goes on.”

James Eva – Executive Officer