Pamela – Pam to anyone who knows her (and trust us, she knows a lot of people) – is Senior Alumni Relations Officer in the Development and Alumni Relations Office (DARO) within External Relations, usually based in the Tower Building. She lives in Perthshire where, like most staff, she’s currently working from home.
ABOUT YOUR WORK
What’s your role at the University? My job is to lead on the University’s alumni relations activity to engage and build relationships with our alumni so they want to remain connected to the University and be part of our global community. We are a team of four and have an alumni relations programme which consists of providing communications, hosting events, volunteering opportunities and engagement with current students.
Our alumni are our greatest ambassadors so it’s so important to keep them updated with news and updates from the University and give them the opportunity to remain part of the community, no matter how long it has been since they graduated. We work with colleagues all across the University – we are always working with the marketing and student recruitment teams, providing volunteering opportunities for alumni to support our student recruitment activity, and we have recently launched an Alumni Ambassador Programme. I regularly say if you can go on holiday you go on Trip Advisor for a review and it’s exactly the same principle with alumni. We have recently worked with the Careers Service to host a series of careers chats with alumni for current students and prospective students, and we also work with colleagues across the Schools by getting alumni involved in guest lectures and other activities to enhance the student experience.
So, what do you do while your at work? It’s fair to say no two days are the same. Today has involved work on how we record and report on our alumni relations activity and liaising with colleagues across the University to provide messaging for the Graduation Task to encourage new graduates to remain connected to the University. Tomorrow I’m meeting with our Marketing Manager from China to plan our next alumni article on WeChat and have a planning meeting on our next career panel event for students and alumni. There’s lots of variety and it’s great to work with different colleagues across the University.
What gives you satisfaction in your work? I’m very much a people person and love to meet with our alumni and to hear their experiences of Dundee. I’ve met alumni all across the world and they all have their own unique story – and it’s not just about the education and career that Dundee has given them but their own personal journey – the life experience, meeting their partners and making best friends for life.
What challenges do you face and how do you deal with them? This past year has been particularly tricky as we haven’t been able to travel and meet with our alumni across the world. Our jobs are based on building relationships and keeping our alumni connected with the University and you can never replace the face to face meetings and events – they’re invaluable in this kind of work. We have been able to take events online including meeting the Principal and quizzes which has allowed us to reach more alumni across the world, so that has definitely been a positive.
What’s the best thing about your work? Definitely the people. Both the people I work with and the alumni I have met all across the world. All of our alumni talk about the people and the sense of community at Dundee and I couldn’t agree more. I’ve worked at the University for eleven years and have worked with some fabulous people. When you see how many staff are recognised at the Long Service Awards you know it’s a great community to be part of. And the same can be said of the alumni community – I’ve always been made welcome wherever I have travelled in the world and it’s always a pleasure to hear each unique Dundee story.
WORKING FROM HOME
How has the current lockdown/work from home situation affected what you do? I would usually travel to meet alumni all across the world so we have had to be creative with ways to engage with alumni virtually. For the first time we produced our alumni magazine (The Bridge) online and we also hosted a number of virtual alumni events including updates from the Principal, quizzes and get togethers. The face-to-face events are irreplaceable, but the amount of alumni we’ve managed to reach all across the world has been incredible, alumni we might otherwise not have engaged with.
Have you found working from home to be more or less effective in terms of work delivery and the job that you do? I think I’ve been more productive as you can switch off from everything and get your head down, but I miss the creativity of working with others and just finding out about opportunities to work together on projects by being on campus and just bumping into people.
Has there been a particular support during this time? Within DARO we have coffee chats four times a week so it’s really nice to see the team and catch up. I also think it’s important to keep in touch with other colleagues across the Directorate and University, so I sometimes pop a video call in to see a familiar face I haven’t seen in a while.
Is there anything new within the current situation that you hope will continue after we return to campus? I think it would be good to be able to have a mixture of working from home and working on campus – home for focus time and on campus for meetings and creativity.
Do you miss the campus you work on? I really miss the social aspect of campus – you would always bump into someone going from meeting to meeting. I miss the chance opportunity to catch up with colleagues and the creativity that can often bring. I also miss the wider University community spirit – from saying hello to Muriel in the morning to chatting with the mail room team while getting my cup of tea, the people really make campus.
What do you most look forward to doing once you are back on campus? Seeing people and going to Tonic for a cuppa!
Campus hotspot? The Geddes Quadrangle is my hotspot. Over the years I have welcomed alumni back to campus for reunions and one of the hits has always been the campus tour with the legendary Eddie Small, who so sadly passed away last year. Our tours would normally finish in the quadrangle, for Eddie and I it was always the jewel in the crown being at the heart of campus. Eddie brought such entertainment to the tours and every time without doubt I learned something new about the University.
Is there someone at the University who inspires you? It has to be Muriel Duncan, our Tower Building receptionist. She epitomises the Dundee spirit and having worked for the University for almost 50 years she is the University of Dundee – friendly and welcoming.
How would you describe the University to someone who doesn’t know it? A friendly and welcoming place with a real sense of community.
What do you do outside of work? Those who know me will already know that I’m a bit of a social butterfly with any excuse to spend time with friends and family – so that has taken quite a hit this year! There have been plenty of video calls, quizzes and virtual gatherings. I’m also a St Johnstone fan, it’s been a great time to be a Saintee!
Tell us something we don’t know about you? I usually travel quite regularly for work – but I only went abroad for the first time when I was 25.
Who would you invite to a dinner party? Harry and Jamie Redknapp – after watching them on Saturday Night Takeaway earlier this year I think they would be great entertainment!
Why Dundee? Coming from Perth there is a bit of rivalry with Dundee… but I love Dundee, it’s a city with a great buzz. And with the addition of the V&A, Dundee has certainly been put on the map.