Catherine Paxton, Divisional Registrar in the Social Sciences Division

Picture of Catherine Paxton

What inspired you to join the University?

I joined the collegiate University in 2003 as the first “full-time” Senior Tutor at Merton College. Some colleges had begun to appoint non-academics to this pivotal role in academic affairs and I was fascinated to see how and whether my experience as a general manager in the NHS would translate to a different sector and a very contrasting setting.

What was your journey to the position you now hold?

I left Merton at the end of 2013 to join the central University within the Academic Administrative Division as Director of Student Welfare and Support Services. This role allowed me to draw both on my college experience of supporting individual students and my previous NHS experience of working in complex systems to try to foster a community across the University and to build links to external partners including college doctors and local health trusts so that together we could make a difference to student welfare.

I was thoroughly enjoying this position but when a Divisional Registrar vacancy arose within the Social Sciences Division, I knew I needed to explore such a rare opportunity. It was the idea of being at the helm of a multi-functional team holding the ground between the central University and the departments which drive academic activity that appealed to me. Although I had not worked in a department or a division before, I was fortunate enough to be appointed.

What are the elements of your job that you enjoy the most?

I have been in this role for nearly 3 years and I can honestly say I learn something new every day. That stimulation is something I value greatly. I also enjoy working with such high calibre academic and professional services colleagues. I feel that I can make a practical contribution to facilitating the amazing educational and research work of our academic departments.

What advice would you give someone thinking about applying to work at the University?

Challenge any assumptions and preconceptions you might have about what working here would be like. Our size and the sheer range of our activities make for a huge variety of work settings. Use any contacts you might have to develop your own sense of roles you might be interested in - you will find people are willing to respond.

Once you join the University, seek opportunities to get involved in projects outside of your day to day role if you can. You will widen your network, knowledge, and experience and that may well benefit your career progression.