UCL Career Frameworks


Faculty Operations Manager

Katy Hamilton, Social and Historical Sciences

Katy Hamilton
I’m the Faculty Operations Manager in Social and Historical Sciences. I started this role in March 2020 but have been in various roles across UCL since 2016. 

Prior to UCL, I worked for a private education provider in the area of teaching and Learning/ Student Support roles. After a short career break  in 2016, I started at UCL as a temporary Teaching and Learning staff member in the Faculty of Laws. Moving from a relatively small private education provider to a large and renowned institute such as UCL was daunting at first but I was made to feel very welcome by everyone I met.

I was lucky enough to be offered a fixed term contract in the same team at Laws as the T&L Manager (for a year), which was a great experience as I was able to be involved in several working groups across UCL, and I was able to work closely with some of the central teams and learn how the cogs all fit together. Towards the end of that contract I was starting to think about my next role. Whilst I had enjoyed my time on the T&L side of university administration, I was getting itchy feet to try another avenue. Again, I was fortunate enough that the Operations Manager role in Laws was coming up.

This came just at the point of return to Bentham House after its extensive renovations and was certainly a baptism of fire into the operations world. I thoroughly enjoyed getting stuck into a new set of streams at UCL; HR, Finance, Estates etc. and was able to forge further connections across UCL. The Operations role also appealed to my problem- solving nature and practical application of skills.

Whilst it was a challenging few months, I had great support from colleagues both in Laws and across the university. I was then sold on the Operations side of administration and after a secondment to engineering I eventually moved to the Global Engagement office as the Head of Planning and Operations before moving to my current role as Operations manager for SHS, and what a time to move roles – a week before Covid-19 lockdown. Another slight baptism of fire but once more UCL has proven itself a wonderful place to work; the camaraderie and sense of togetherness has made the transition as smooth as possible and I look forward to continuing my career here. As cliché as it sounds, I genuinely just want to do a good job. Being trusted to do my job well and seeing the benefit of the work that I put in on other people’s roles or studies, is important to me. I try to reflect on processes and procedures to make sure they’re still fit for purpose and suit not just me or my team, but the wider network. I came to UCL after a serious health scare and wanted to be somewhere that I could make an impact but that was going to allow a work life balance and a supportive network of people around me. I certainly found that and have met not only great colleagues but wonderful friends too.

I have been very fortunate to experience a range of roles and areas within UCL, having been involved  in a single department Faculty, a department, a central professional service team and now in a multi-department Faculty. I have been able to make strong connections across the university and it has meant that I have had opportunities to be on several working groups and I truly understand how all of the pieces of the puzzle fit together, and which parts are interesting and relevant to my skills and interests. I have made the most of the wide ranging CPD courses at UCL and can recommend these. I was offered a place on the Women in Leadership course, which was a great experience to see so many  women pulling together and working to further their own skills and careers, whilst supporting others to   do the same. I have been very lucky to have been supported by most of my line managers and their trust and support has proved invaluable. Having the belief of my peers and line manager, particularly when moving into the Operations role, gave me the boost to really make a success of the transition.

Without someone taking a chance on me, I wouldn’t be in a role that I really enjoy and can transfer to future career paths. For me, throwing myself into  the deep end is the best way to learn; its hands on and there is always someone to go to with a query  or concern if they arise. I also think realising when a role isn’t right for you or has become something that isn’t challenging has been a learning curve, it’s made me realise that you have to do something that  is engaging and enjoyable and if that means a slightly scary change of direction or a sideways move, and that’s ok.

The advice that I would you give to others in your area is Get stuck in! Operations is so varied, and every day is different. As much as the word ‘networking’ strikes fear into me, it really is the best way to find your feet as well as some supportive people, and it isn’t as scary as I first thought. There are such talented people at UCL and they’re so willing to help and offer advice. Make the most of the CPD opportunities and if you get the chance, join working groups, Communities of Practice etc. and you’ll be amazed at how much you can pick up from these sorts of groups. One thing I wish I’d been able to do in previous roles is to speak up more. Your opinion is valued and can make a difference. The operations roles are involved in so many connected aspects that you can often be the person in the room that has pertinent points to make that others may not be aware of within their own roles/areas.

Finally, people think you must start again from  the bottom if you move between areas and resist moving roles as they don’t want to pause their career progression. My advice would be to speak to your  line manager to see how they can support you to expand your skill set, or if you’re interested in a role, go and have an informal chat with the recruiting manager/team. You’ll be surprised how many criteria you could match based on your transferable skills.

In terms of what’s next? I’m not one for big plans   and very much go with the flow. At some point in the future I think I would like to see how another sector feels. I’ve been in HE since I graduated university and one of the reasons, I moved into operations was the transferable aspects of the role. But, for now, I’m happy at UCL and with the likely changes coming out of Covid-19 times. I think it will be an interesting time to be involved in planning for the future.