Spotlight on Elena Bedisti
19 August 2015
This week the spotlight is on Elena Bedisti, Institute Manager, UCL Ear Institute.
What is your role and what does it involve?
I recently joined the UCL Ear Institute as the Institute Manager. As Institute Manager, my role is to ensure the smooth running of all aspects of the institute's support services.
I work closely with my colleagues in the professional services team to efficiently and effectively support a wide spectrum of activities including research, education (UG, PGT and PGR), enterprise, finance, HR, estates/space planning, governance… and the list goes on.
My role also involves ensuring that the institute operates within the set budgetary frameworks (which means saying 'no' quite a lot!), supporting the Director and the Institute Board in implementing the institute's operational strategy, and ensuring that UCL and faculty policies are implemented and operate effectively.
As you can probably tell, it is a very diverse role that covers a wide spectrum of areas, which is one of the things I love about it. Never a dull day!
How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?
I've been at UCL for nearly three years, but it feels a lot longer, which I'm sure is a good thing, right?
I joined UCL as the Operations Manager at the School of Life Sciences Academic Careers Office (ACO) and worked closely with colleagues across SLMS and the UCL Hospitals NIHR Biomedical Research Centre. It was a very interesting and enjoyable role; I learnt a lot about UCL and had the opportunity to work with some truly amazing and inspiring people.
What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?
A successful grant application for a three-year teaching and learning project at the University of Reading a few years back; it was a project that looked at the impact on student retention of different approaches to supporting students through study advice and personal development.
The project was part of the 'What works?' programme that was jointly funded by HEFCE and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, which aimed to identify and share good practice across the HEI sector through a number of collaborative projects. It was a very competitive programme with a limited number of successful applications.
While at the ACO, I organised MiniMD in breast cancer, a two-week course for non-clinical scientists to obtain a direct insight into translational research and clinical medicine. The course gave them the opportunity to experience the clinical pathway in cancer through meeting patients, seeing how the clinical pathways operate and talking to clinicians caring for cancer patients.
Overcoming operational challenges and working with the Director of the Breast Cancer Pathway and the clinical leads to develop and deliver the course was a great experience. What makes me proud of this initiative however is the impact it has had on the scientists who attended the course; how it informed their research interests and provided that very important link between the work that is done in the lab and the potential impact in people's lives.
Tell us about a project you are working on now that is top of you to-do list?
There are a few projects that will be at the top of my to-do list in the next few months. We are planning our Athena Swan application for a Silver Award. We are also introducing a new and exciting MSc programme in Sensory Systems, Technologies and Therapies. I will be working with the Programme Director and Education team to ensure everything is in place to recruit and welcome the first cohort on the course in September 2016.
In addition, we are now preparing for a very busy period in the next few months, in which the institute will be delivering its well-known and well-established portfolio of CPD short courses, therefore both I and my colleagues (support and academic) will be focusing on ensuring all courses run as planned.
What is your favourite album, film and novel?
Album: The Future - Leonard Cohen, Belonging - Keith Jarrett.
Film: A few to choose from: Kieslowski's Three Colours: Blue, Capra's Mr Smith Goes to Washington, Benigni's La Vita e bella, Visconti's Death in Venice, oh and Spielberg's ET.
Novel: Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder, We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver, Orwell's 1984, The Island by Victoria Hislop.
What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?
It's probably best not to subject anyone else to that…
Who would be your dream dinner guests?
Socrates (to get the Apology story right), Joanna Lumley, Frida Kahlo and Maya Angelou… Don't ask me why!
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don't take things too seriously, especially things that don't really matter.
What would it surprise people to know about you?
I write… mostly poetry. Very few get to read it, which is probably a good thing!
What is your favourite place?
There is this small island in Lake Prespa, Prespa National Park in Northern Greece, right on the border with FYROM and Albania.
On the island there are the ruins of the Basilica of Saint Achilleos, a byzantine church that dates back to the 10th century. Sitting at the top of the hill on the island, facing the Basilica on a moonlit summer night is absolutely magical. It must be one of the most peaceful natural settings I have ever seen.