UCL News


Spotlight on Alice Chilver

5 November 2015

This week the spotlight is Alice Chilver, Business Development Manager, UCL Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment.

Alice Chilver

What is your role and what does it involve?

The best way I can describe my role, is leading on cross-faculty projects of strategic importance. This means that I get to work with a great range of people and functions from across the entire faculty.

I also connect regularly with central parts of UCL, especially in enterprise areas.

One of my current projects is the Bartlett Commissions. This initiative takes topics that relate to all schools and centres across the faculty, for example, ethics, education and health. We look internally at what has or is happening in this area, then consider the world outside of UCL to find out what its related needs are in this area.

Commissions end with a clear set of recommendations about how the faculty should proceed for greatest impact and this might mean that new taught programmes, research centres, enterprise and/or outreach activities are established.

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

I joined UCL in March 2013. I was previously Director of Development for an international leadership consulting firm, the Oxford Leadership Academy.

We specialised in aligning people and culture with strategy. We achieved this through intensive work with board level management teams, supporting them to build alignment, engagement and accountability.

Once this had been achieved at the most senior level, a cascade plan was implemented to translate and embed this way of thinking and behaving down through the management levels of the organisation. For example, this involved leadership development programmes, strategy workshops and management away days for 10-300 staff.

My clients were as varied as Girl Scouts of America, Unilever, Barclays and McDonalds. In 2010, I spent six months in San Francisco where I set up the US arm of the company.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Oxford Leadership Academy and was continually proud of the impact that the organisation was having at an individual, team and organisation-wide level.

However, my experiences were telling me that I wanted to change the focus of my work to support equality and social mobility for young people. So, after seven years, I made the leap and changed my outlook entirely by coming to work in higher education.

A few months after joining UCL, outside of my role I co-founded unboxd, a social enterprise supporting young people to understand their own values and use these to support them in making key choices and decisions about their future.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

Setting up Astrea, a network for professional services women at UCL. The idea came from the intention to meet with and learn from senior female colleagues. Having recognised that many of the most senior professional services staff at UCL were men, despite the majority of professional services staff being women.

Emma (Astrea co-founder) and I realised we could count the very senior women we knew on one hand. We assumed there must be more women but we did not know of any opportunities to meet them, so we decided to set up a network. Soon after we established a steering committee and the network is now being run by its second committee, headed up by Sarah Winmill, Director of IT for Professional Services.

In December 2014, we hosted our first conference at the British Library. 250 women attended and 89% told us that they 'felt more confident about their current role and career development' as a result of the conference.

While recognising the achievements that universities are making in the field of gender equality we also recognise the need to accelerate the pace of this change. That's why we are launching WHEN, a national network for women working in universities.

Equality is not a matter of if, but WHEN. Our focus will continue to be professional services women, and continue to be about grassroots initiatives. To that end, as well as hosting a national network, we will be providing women like us with training and a framework to support them to establish grassroots networks suited to their own university culture, or reinvigorate existing networks.

Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of you to-do list?

Easy - the staff survey! As staff survey champion I am leading on the roll out, collection of data and analysis across the faculty. The results of the staff survey will be truly interesting to dig into. They'll tell us what's working well and which areas need urgent attention.

I'm especially looking forward to understanding how the experiences of colleagues differ according to faculty, sex, race and role (professional services and academics).

Once we've got a good understanding of the results, we will identify areas for change and/improvements - that's the part which I'm most excited about as it offers opportunities to drive change.

What is your favourite album, film and novel?

Album: (right now) The Wave Pictures, City Forgiveness

Film: Inglourious Basterds

Novel: (still) Memoirs of a Geisha

What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?

There were two cats, one English, the other French trying to race across the channel. The English cat was called 'One Two Three', the French Cat was called Un Deux Trois. Which one do you think once the race?

One Two Three of course, because Un Deux Trois cat sank!

Who would be your dream dinner guests?

Barack Obama, Tracey Emin, Lena Dunham, Stella Creasy and a border collie dog.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don't rely on handwritten address books, you will lose them.

What would it surprise people to know about you?

In January, I took three months off work to go exploring. I went to Vietnam, Philippines and Japan, each for one month. It was an absolutely incredible start to the year.

What is your favourite place?

Well now I'm reminiscing about the three months away, a highlight was definitely in Tokyo. I was with great friends, in a tiny bar - which was also a florist - the smell was brilliant, the wine was flowing and then an accordion player turned up. Take me back!