Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and Resources


International Women's Day 2022 - Joanna Payne

8 March 2022

For International Women's Day we asked some women from BSEER about how they got where they are today, what they’re most proud of and what advice they’d offer to other women working in a similar role, read about their experiences below.

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Around the world people are marking International Women's Day. We are joining them by celebrating the contributions and achievements of women in our department.

Joanna Payne

Teaching Programmes Administrator
The Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and Resources

How did you get into your current role?

For many years I worked as a learning and subject librarian in various sectors (Academia, NHS, corporate law, and government) where I created usable spaces (online and in person) for people to gather information and learn. This ranged from designing learning platforms to organising large educational conferences and leading on complex research projects.

Over 7 years I also ran my own creative business, which had two elements. One – designing and selling products via Not on the High Street. Two – writing and photographing for magazines and blogs, and copywriting for a retail and branding agency.

When Brexit hit, the creative industries took a huge knock as consumer confidence declined, making it a highly insecure and competitive field. I knew I had to either win the lottery or use my experience and knowledge to my advantage and move back into an education setting. I chose the latter and have not looked back.

What are you currently working on?

It’s an extremely busy time in the Teaching Team (when isn’t it?!) due to a range of central UCL deadlines hitting us sooner than previous years.

I’m currently working with programme leads to finalise 2022-23 timetables, having just finished updating the curriculum data and programme diets on Portico. I’m also organising several field trips, including one to Malta and preparing for the March Board of Examiners.

Alongside this, I’m continually liaising with external speakers, helping students with a range of queries, releasing grades, attending committee meetings, updating Moodle pages, and representing BSEER at the Library Committee meetings.

As a BSEER Green Champion, I’m currently working with a great team to ensure we’re leading the way on sustainability matters. I’m also part of the Programme Administration (Taught) Community of Practice where I’ve just volunteered to work with the Professional Development Team to help strengthen career development for professional services staff.

What work achievements are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of overseeing the introduction of two new PGT programmes and guiding a new colleague through this process. It helped me to see how much I’ve learnt since starting at BSEER and that I can lead on projects, which was a great confidence boost.

I’m also proud that I got through the pandemic working alone and tackled agonising loneliness by finally starting to write a novel, mastering bread baking, learning Spanish and understanding the importance of rest in a work/life balance.

What advice would you give to other women working at a university in a similar role?

Firstly, be pro-active. This could mean speaking up at meetings, volunteering for tasks out of your comfort zone, asking for feedback on how you approached a task, discussing your ambitions with colleagues, or joining wider UCL groups to network, learn and collaborate.

Secondly, be your own cheerleader. Remember to pat yourself on the back and not be your own worst critic, proactively use constructive feedback to learn and develop, take time to focus on your wellbeing (mentally and physically) to create a healthy work/life balance and crucially, learn when to say yes and when to say no. I find this applies to all aspects of life, not just work.

Thirdly, be sociable, understanding, and respectful. Have conversations with anyone, don’t let a seniority level put you off asking how someone’s day is going, we’re all human. And remember, you never know who you’re sat next to so be kind.