Spotlight on... Loleta Fahad (Astrea Co-Chair)

Loleta is Head of Career Development based in Organisational Development. She is also Co-Chair of Astrea alongside Pip Jackson.

What is your role and what does it involve?

Loleta Fahad

I’m Head of Career Development based in Organisational Development. I lead a team of 7 people who each have responsibility for supporting an initiative or resource which supports the development and progression of staff at UCL. I provide leadership and strategic direction, but I’m largely involved in developing the resources which support the UCL Annual Appraisal process; designing the appraisal forms, providing the supporting training resources, liaising with the HR Policy team to make sure the policy and process are aligned.  Other areas of support within my team focus on Career Pathways, UCL Apprenticeships, Early-Career Development Schemes, Ways of Working and Mentoring.

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

It depends on how you look at it.  I joined the Institute of Education in January 2004, but the institute merged with UCL in December 2014, and is now called IOE – Faculty of Education and Society.  I was Head of Research Operations at the IOE and joined OD in September 2019 on secondment as Head of Career Pathways.  My role evolved significantly during the pandemic, as I took on additional projects and responsibility for new areas of work.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

Oh, that’s an easy one to answer!  The pandemic was a really strange and uncertain time for most people, I think, but it also meant a shift in the focus of many roles within OD, mine included.  Working with a range of amazing colleagues in OD, UCL EDI, Workplace Health, and beyond, we developed the ‘Remote, not Distant’ webpages, as a direct response to the changing needs of staff and managers who were adapting to a new way of working. Members of the team took on specific workstreams and curated a lot of existing UCL information to support staff in key areas such as Environment, Community, Leading our people, Self-care, and Difficult situations.  We delivered a lot of presentations, created additional online content, held webinars, and generally had a great time collaborating and supporting staff across the UCL community.

Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list

I’m currently working on a very exciting project which will provide a platform that will support annual appraisals, talent management, and learning management for all staff at UCL.  In addition to providing staff with an improved appraisal experience, managers will be able to better support their teams/staff based on their current performance and potential. The project will also see the implementation of a new improved learning management system, bringing the functionality of existing systems into one place, making the process of setting up course, registering participants, and reporting, much more efficient.

What is your favourite album, film or novel?

My favourite film would have to be The Shawshank Redemption.  Admittedly it is a bit brutal, but I originally read the short story which the film is based on, and I really like the way that the story has been developed into a film.  It’s funny, sad, tragic and brutal, but the acting is amazing, and it does have a happy ending.

Who would be your dream dinner guests?

Celebrities don’t really impress me so I would have a capable chef in the kitchen, cooking something nice and comforting, while I relax with a group of my closest friends enjoying a really nice meal and an evening filled with lots of laughter and the odd glass of wine.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Probably two things.  One would be, in times of stress – take a deep breath and count to ten!  The other would be, don’t be afraid to speak up and share your views.

What would it surprise people to know about you?

Mathematics was my least favourite subject at school, and I couldn’t imagine taking a job that involved finance in any way shape or form.  And yet I ended up working in research administration/management for 12 years and I really enjoy working with numbers and Excel spreadsheets…

What is your favourite place?  

I like getting out of London on short breaks, but then I also appreciate the convenience of living in London, even though it does get very busy.  One of the things I really like to do is walk along the South Bank, simply because I can keep walking until I feel like retracing my steps, and it’s literally a short distance from my home.  The South Bank is my go-to area for meeting friends when we’re short on ideas of where to go; we can meet for a chat and a wander, and maybe stop off at a one of the many watering holes along the way.