UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


David Blundred

What colleagues said about David: Works endlessly to ensure students get the best experience.  

Overview of current position and main responsibilities   

I am employed as the Education Manager at the UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology. The role of the Education Team is to support and lead on all educational activities within the Institute. This includes supporting all PGR (approx. 300 students), PGT (approx. 200 students) and final year Elective students (approx. 70 a year) along with some short course and CPD activities. It is a very busy department, and there is a team of 7 administrators and 7 teaching fellows, and we work closely with academics and clinicians across Queen Square. 

What was your career path to this position and subject area?   

I am an example of someone who made some early mistakes and did not have a career plan, but have still managed to embark on what I think is a pretty good career. I studied Social and Cultural studies with Religious Studies at Hull University, Scarborough Campus (an amazing experience) and after university lived in Toronto, Canada for a year, working as a photographer at some tourist sites. I did some travelling (mainly in Thailand) after that, went back to Toronto for 7 months. I moved to London in 2006 in search of more employment opportunities as there were not many in Scarborough and I have been at Queen Square since June 2008, so 12 years! I have always worked at QSIoN although I started as an administrative assistant (Grade 5) and have been promoted twice, becoming the Education Manager in September 2014. The Education Team is the first point of call for students at the Institute and that is one of the best parts of the job. 

Do you feel you have a good work / life balance? Why?   

Sometimes! There are peaks and troughs, and during the pandemic it has been very difficult for all of us to get the balance right. Ultimately I am very fortunate to have a supportive family and two young boys who are a lot of fun. I am also incredibly lucky to be part of a great team, and all members of the Education Team help each other when needed. By way of examples, in 2016 my wife had a very serious illness and the support I received was incredible, and helped to relieve the pressures of work during a very stressful period. In particular Matteo Fumagalli (now in the department of Anthropology) stepped up into my role (along with doing his own job) and did so much, and offered me a lot of personal support as well. In 2019, the Education Team lost two experienced and valued members and Alex Addo (Deputy Education Manager) agreed to end his secondment post early to support myself and the whole team.   

Who has inspired your career?   

There have been a lot of people! I have been very fortunate to have very supportive and loving parents, and that has helped to create a sense of security that if things don’t go to plan that I will still be ok. Prior to UCL I have worked at Morrisons supermarket on and off from 1998 until 2007 and was very fortunate to be managed by John Gilpin and Simon Edwards, both of whom in their different ways showed what needs to be done if you want to be an exceptional manager. John was someone who could motivate everyone and feel part of a group, and Simon led by example and supported the team from outside pressures. At Queen Square, I have been very lucky to have 3 brilliant managers who have given great support and guidance, Daniela Warr-Schori, Caroline Selai and Helene Crutzen. I try to follow the example set by all of these people and in my own way to support those I line manage and all my colleagues. 

I have also been fortunate to work with so many great colleagues and students at Queen Square. In the early years I made many long lasting friendships with students, but if I think who inspired me to seek to improve I would have to single out Dr Philip Glass Andrade who was truly exceptional. Through his constant organising of events and enthusiasm for both personal and academic matters he enriched the lives of all those who were fortunate to be around him during his year in London. From surprise birthday parties, to arranging a weekend away in Canterbury for Clinical Neurology students, to producing a year book and designing Queen Square football shirts, his contribution to everyone’s social life is without equal. He was also an exceptional student, and found time to contribute to the course, along with Dr Martin Grecco, Dr Tom Pollak and Dr Laura Moriyama by producing an instructional video, available to view on Youtube. We were also very fortunate to have Dr Zeid Yasiry and Dr Suraj Rajan (who among many other things produced the poster on the MSc Clinical Neurology Course in 2011/12 and a handbook for future clinical neurology students. Finally I have benefitted from the support, guidance and encouragement of many senior academics. There are too many to mention, and I am very grateful to all, but in particular Prof Simon Shorvon (along with Dr Caroline Selai) who was instrumental in supporting my transition to the role of Education Manager. 

What advice would you give to your younger self?   

Being stubborn, I doubt I would have listened! I have made many mistakes, but ultimately this has led me to where I am now, along with all the experiences I have had and the people I have met. I would tell myself to enjoy the moment and to have more confidence in my own abilities.  

What is the best thing about working at IoN? 

It is the people you meet and the sense of excitement that comes with working in a higher education setting, that you don’t feel in other office environments. Queen Square is truly international and if you take the time, there are so many things to experience and things to learn.