UCL Career Frameworks


Department Manager, Department of Political Science

Ben Webb, Department Manager, Department of Political Science, Faculty of Social Historical Sciences

Ben Webb
My current role at UCL is the Manager in the Department of Political Science in the Faculty of Social Historical Sciences; I started my current role in August 2018. The focus of my role is to manage the Department Professional Services team and to oversee the operations and resourcing of the Department; this includes HR, Finance, Education and Estates management. I started my career at UCL in 2009, where I joined as a HR administrative assistant in SLMS as a one year maternity leave cover. I never set out to have a career at UCL, but the diversity, culture and size of UCL captured my interest and my passion. 

Since 2009, I have had six roles at UCL, these have been across the Institution, both permanent and fixed terms, which has enabled me to have a diverse career at UCL, for example, I have been on two secondments and my roles have been in different Faculties and within UCL central HR. These opportunities have provided me to move into exciting and different roles, moving from my first post into a HR and Finance administrator post to a Unit administrator, Senior HR Policy Advisor and a Deputy Institute Manager/ HR Lead. Very early on in my career at UCL, my mentor told me that if I wanted to progress effectively at UCL, that I should not expect to stay in one place, but to move around UCL. This would make me an asset to any department as I would build my experience, broaden my skill set and get a wide understanding of the Institution. This guidance has been the foundation to my career progression at UCL, and a piece of advice I would give any staff member. Through my career, I have demonstrated my adaptability and a willingness to change my responsibilities and take career risks in the roles.

All the roles I have held, have had a focus or elements of HR, which has been my main passion and interest, but what has been important to me is learning how and why we do things. Moving into different roles has given me a broad prospective and understanding of this and how the Institution operates, exposure to new areas of work, networks and how the different aspects of the business and come together. One huge advantage of working at UCL is the resource and exposure to training and development opportunities, both in the classroom and on the job, I have experienced. I was lucky enough to win a scholarship from my Faculty to contribute to my CIPD, this was an excellent foundation to build my HR career on, it provided me with not only the theory, but also the practical skills to enable me to improve day to day at work. These skills, along with the leadership and managing training programmes and other courses (received at UCL) has enabled me to build on my management and leadership skills, as leading and developing a team has provided me with the most satisfaction in my career. 

Another crucial element to helping in progressing with my career is acting ups, secondments and taking a leadership role in a Community of Practice. These opportunities have enabled me to test and develop my skills at the next grade or new areas in UCL outside of my current role. I would highly recommend secondments, these have been a great opportunity to find out how another part of the organisation operates, build networks and provide me with a new experience. My secondment in HR provided me with key insight into a strategic HR role and insight into how the centre operates at an Institutional level that I did not have exposure to at a department. Lastly, utilising inspirational, supportive and encouraging managers and mentors in all my roles has guided me through my career at UCL. My mentors have provided me with direction, enabled me to learn from their experiences and help build my confidence in my abilities and my skills. If I was to provide advice to anyone is that if you want to progress, firstly, look within UCL, there is a wealth of opportunities in; new roles, secondments, communities of practices, attending conferences, and training and in other UCL citizenships roles. It is so important to network with other colleagues in the wider UCL community. The network I have built throughout my ten years has enabled me to do my job better every day and learn best practices from others. Lastly, we are at our best when we are proactive rather than reactive working, so be restlessly curious, take risks, learn new things, have new experiences, apply them to your role and use them to make it, as well as the team and department even better.