November 27, 2009

Moving on from Warwick

At the end of this week I move on from Warwick after 7 years in the comms team. Whilst I am sad to move on, I am looking forward to the new challenges and opportunities ahead.

It is nice, however, to reflect on that time at Warwick and it’s a good opportunity just to say a few things about this and that.

Whatever has happened over my time here has been based on a set of strong collaborations of extremely talented people who have (largely) been a joy to work with. Warwick is blessed with a great community of people who are passionate about their discipline (and I include administrators in this, not just academics and students) and the institution. There are many great minds around here that are capable of great things.

It’s been a considerable pleasure to work with many people and teams at Warwick and I would like to just thank a few of them here.

eLab are a fabulous asset to the University and a provide pool of skills and knowledge that is the envy of many. Despite the odd hiccup, usually thanks to me, the development team have proven themselves to be an outstanding group – creative, insightful and able to navigate paths through challenges in a way that is always accessible. John, Chris, Karen, Sara and Julie have always been great to work with and serve the interests of both parties in an exemplary fashion – which is not always easy! If I have one frustration with the team it is that they don’t tell their own story half as well as they should do.

I have to also give due credit to Steve Carpenter, Rob O’Toole, Stephen Brydges and Chris Coe for being great to work with and helping me navigate through the elearning world so effectively. And yes, I do mean that to apply to Mr O’Toole, tortured genius that he may be.

Steve Carpenter has also been a massive help (along with the King of Wales, Mr Mat Mannion and the patient Nick Howes) in getting many of the video and related projects going. I hope I have given good value in return. Keep the flash faith my friend. Keep the faith.

I have to admit that the podcasting and video work has probably been the most fun I have ever had in a job (to date, future employer….). It has been an absolute pleasure to have worked with academics and students across the University. All the innovation in the world counts for nothing without the ideas and insight to grab the imagination of audiences. I feel lucky to have been able to have had access to some brilliant academics and discuss their passions and interests in such an intimate and privileged way.

I can’t think of many academics I have had problems with in these projects (though 2 spring to mind, no names – this is a positive reflection). In particular I would like to comment on a few close friends and colleagues.

David Morley is a creative whirlwind and you can judge just how much people value his ideas by the responses to the Writing Challenges series. It has been a great experience to work with David and I count it amongst some of the most rewarding things I have ever done.

The team at CAPITAL – Carol, Susan, Johnny, Nick and the others put up with me for 3 whole months. It is rare to get that sort of time to breath and think but I found it really valuable and insightful. They are a great team of people who are passionate about their work and gave me a great deal of confidence to deal with academic subjects in a more considered way.

Nick Barker, Jeremy Ireland and the wonderful Stefan Bon – how we generated so many great plans and delivered so little ;-) but always with a smile and a laugh.

David Davies and friends at the med school; Peter Pormann in Classics, the brilliant Ian Stewart in Maths. All those in engineering and WMG who were happy to get their faces on film.

Too many to mention really – sorry i can’t name you all.

The thing that this has left me with is a deep respect for the academic community at Warwick in terms of their knowledge and expertise but also in the way that with few exceptions they have been willing to embrace new (stupid!) ideas and grab opportunities to try new things and push creativity and ideas. Please don’t lose that enthusiasm and continue to be brilliant at this stuff.

I also have to talk about the students I have worked with over the years. Warwick should be (and is) rightly proud of its student community. They are capable of great innovation and can deliver fantastic results. I have infinite respect for them and what they can and will achieve. Special mention to Alex Dzeigel who I hope goes on to all the success that her talent deserves.

There are many within the University administration that I could mention, so I won’t bore you with a long list of beaming comments.

As for the Communications Office. It’s a great team of people to work with and I have learned much from one of the best in the business. They have accommodated many of my wilder moments and put up with a large dose of grumpiness with good humour. I only ever once came close to lamping a colleague and that’s not a bad record for 7 years (they would have deserved it too…).

In particular I have to say thanks to Emily and Lesley for their commitment to the icast and digital press projects over the last few years. They have both been invaluable in supporting me in developing these programmes and making them successful. That we were able to make the case to retain their services is testament to just how good they are at what they do.

Ian Rowley and Peter Dunn – between them they have probably stopped more lunacy and supported more craziness on my part than anyone else in this place. If we have clashed it is only because we all care so damn much.

As for the rest – Trevor, Alison, Jackie, Jo T, Kelly, Natalie, Julia, Sam, Suzanne, Jess, Roberta, Jo E, Helen, Peter W, Casey, Tracy, Varsha and the rest – a great time and thanks!

Have I left anyone out?

Oh yes.

About 4 years ago Trevor Seeley and I recruited Ellie Lovell as a communications assistant to help us do a load of things. She has proven herself to be a fantastic addition to the team and has saved my arse on numerous occasions! Never afraid to tell me to shut up when needed and with the patience to cope with regular requests from Peter Dunn she has lived up to the potential Trevor and I saw in the interview. I wish her every future success and hope that she goes forward with the confidence that her abilities deserve.

So, what would I say to my replacement (other than duck… run…. :-). I think working at Warwick has been a privilege and a great experience. Despite difficult times Warwick remains an institution blessed with great talent and commitment that should see it to great success in the future. Any replacement will find talent, capability, confidence and a willingness to embrace change and new ideas. That is a precious thing and should be celebrated. I hope that there remains a culture of trust and creativity for this to thrive.

Oh – and try and avoid committees – an approach that has served me well for 7 years!

- 12 comments by 8 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. Mathew Mannion

    The whole time I was reading this, The Last Post was playing in my head.

    Good luck :)

    27 Nov 2009, 09:42

  2. Emily Little

    I was thinking more Simon Bates’ Radio One Our Tune – or maybe lutes!!!! ;oD

    Keep in Touch!

    27 Nov 2009, 09:56

  3. Catherine Fenn ;-)

    So it’s * glass raised * to toast “looking forward to the new challenges and opportunities ahead”

    Good luck :o)

    27 Nov 2009, 10:02

  4. Eleanor Lovell

    Well, I wasn’t expecting to shed a tear this early in the day! Miss you loads already! Thanks Tom x

    27 Nov 2009, 10:20

  5. Sara Lever

    Gee thanks! Please keep in touch will be great to hear about “What Tom Did Next”...

    27 Nov 2009, 13:54

  6. Julie Moreton

    You have certainly been a definitive influence young man! Go forth and multiply …

    (Sorry didn’t manage to make it over to your leaving do but we have just enjoyed the spoils of cake – mmm many thanks!)

    Have a nice life n all that. Come back and see us when you’re a movie mogul or whatever!

    Take care. Have fun.

    27 Nov 2009, 14:43

  7. Jess

    Nice Tom, real nice. For the record I really miss our chats putting the world to rights. Nobody will listen to me when I try to bring academia into anything nowadays. Good luck with the suits. You will do amazing things.

    Ellie, can’t believe you cried! ;)

    27 Nov 2009, 16:19

  8. No, please – don’t play the music!

    27 Nov 2009, 16:31

  9. David Davies

    So long Tom …

    27 Nov 2009, 23:30

  10. Sad to see you go Tom, I’ve lwys enjoyed reding bout your communictions exploits on here!
    Good luclk for the future.

    28 Nov 2009, 09:57

  11. Sara Kalvala

    Sorry to hear you are leaving – but best wishes for your next projects!

    01 Dec 2009, 10:33

  12. David Morley

    A Romany saying:

    Sori simensar si men

    ‘We are all one: all who are with us are ourselves’

    Thank you, Tom, and don’t lose touch or look back.

    10 Dec 2009, 08:53

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