UCL Career Frameworks


Staffing & HR Manager

Angelina Blackwood-Hernandez, UCL School of Pharmacy.

Angelina Blackwood-Hernandez
My name is Angelina Blackwood-Hernandez and I am the Staffing & HR Manager at the UCL School of Pharmacy. I started my career in HR at the University of Manchester where I worked as a full time Data Entry Administrator whilst I studied part time for my Masters in Latin American Cultural studies. At that time, I was not really sure what I wanted to do with my life and just knew that I enjoyed Latin American Studies enough to do more of it at a higher level. During my studies I fell pregnant with my first child which prompted me to move to London so I could be closer to family.

I transferred my MA degree credits to UCL and started working part time in the HR Office in the School of Pharmacy. My time working with the School of Pharmacy has always been positive, supportive and fulfilling and I have grown to a level that I never really believed I actually would during my time here. I worked closely with the HR Manager at the time and learnt a lot whilst working on the job and just observing from afar. Then one of my colleagues went on maternity leave twice, giving me the opportunity to act up to the role of HR Officer, full time. I enjoyed the work that I was doing so much, I remember saying to myself “I want to be a HR Manager myself one day”. I was privileged enough to be supported in obtaining my MSc in HR Management and my CIPD accreditation. Soon after handing in my dissertation on Reward and Motivation, I gave birth to my third child and went on maternity leave. When I came back from maternity leave, the School of Pharmacy HR team was going through a restructure and there was an opportunity for me to interview for the position of HR Manager. 

I successfully interviewed for the post of Staffing & HR Manager. When I started in HR I had originally set out to become an academic or a researcher in Latin American Studies. I always wanted to do a PhD but life and a growing family was telling me I needed to get out and earn some money. Once I started working in Human Resources I set out to: a) do my very best to help people come to work and be happy in the work that they do b) go as high as possible in my field. Each time I secured a new role I would aim for the next level up. I would definitely like to secure the position of HR Director within the next five years.
At the moment I am particularly interested in Staff Engagement and Organisational Development. I am a UCL mentor and have mentored at least ten people during my time as manager here through U-Mentor. I also coach and mentor my own team. I love to see staff happy and growing in their roles. I enjoy looking into situations where things are not working quite right in the workplace and engaging in meaningful dialogues with staff to find out what is stopping them from feeling fulfilled in their roles and putting solutions in place to make an improvement and put a smile on people’s faces. I love it when the staff survey comes around as it is a great opportunity to make UCL an even greater place to work. One piece of work that I am particularly proud of, that came out of the staff survey, is the well-being initiative that I launched at the School of Pharmacy, which did a lot to bring about wide reaching culture change within the UCL. The thing that supported me most in my career was working in an office where I got to experience the complete employee life cycle and had the opportunity to get involved in every possible aspect of that cycle. Working very closely with someone who is very good at what they do and has the experience that you are hoping to gain yourself is also invaluable. Placing yourself in the proximity of the person who you consider to be your next or future step is a very powerful technique that has worked well in my career.

I also was able to attend leadership development and was provided with several mentors along the way whilst being given the freedom to set and achieve my own inspiring objectives. For me, it was really important to keep learning and finding out new things. This led me to go out and meet different people and be inspired by ideas on new ways of doing things. So, after 16 years of experience in HR, what next? I would like to organise a conference for BME staff who work within the university sector with a view to setting more BME staff up for success when obtaining senior positions (grade 8 and above) in Higher Education administration. Now that I have had the wide exposure as a generalist in HR, I feel that it is time for me to delve into some of those areas that I have enjoyed most. Ideally my next career move would be in a more senior role that involves leading on staff engagement or organisational development. A career planning or talent management role with a bit of executive coaching and motivational speaking would be great for me. I would also be open to working in another sector outside of Higher Education just because I’m curious to see what it’s like.