Spotlight on... David Blundred
20 June 2019
David is Education Manager at the Queen Square Institute of Neurology, and is currently seconded to the Academic Model Project (AMP), where he’s working to improve Portico.
What is your role and what does it involve?
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.
I have also been fortunate to be seconded for one day a week to the AMP team, and have been involved in projects around the online module catalogue, module registration and exam board reports on Portico. It has been really interesting to get a better insight into the work the AMP team are doing, along with working with colleagues from central services and other UCL departments. The AMP team are doing some great work, and the changes they have made and continue to make will have a really beneficial impact for everyone within the Institution, so it has been a real pleasure to be involved in the project.
How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?
I have been here since June 2008, so 11 years! I have always worked at the IoN although I started as an administrative assistant 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. Prior to UCL I have worked at Morrisons supermarket (where I was fortunate in my time there to be managed by John Gilpin and Simon Edwards, both of whom in their different ways showed what it is to be an exceptional manager) as a photographer, and various general office roles, all of which were very valuable in terms of experience.
What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?
The reinvigoration of the Alumnus Association in 2010. I have produced 13 newsletters since 2011 and arranged a two-day conference in 2013. I have also created some history pages for the Institute (still a work in progress). It involved a lot of work, often in my own time, but has been very interesting and enjoyable and has allowed me to meet many people who have been at Queen Square over the years. For this initiative, I have been lucky to have the support of Professor Simon Shorvon and Professor Andrew Lees who gave me a lot of encouragement, along with fantastic support from Sarah Lawson and the UCL Alumni team, especially from Katie Singer and Emily Prince.
Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list?
The project I am most keen on is developing some online resources for doctors and health care professionals working in resource poor countries. There is a great project run by Professor Chris O’Callaghan at ICH, and I had hoped we could work on something together but it has proved challenging getting started, despite interest from clinical colleagues at Queen Square. The over-arching aim would be to provide free Neurology resources to doctors and health professionals in developing countries, with the goal that this will make a fundamental difference to the care of people with Neurological conditions worldwide.
What is your favourite album, film and novel?
Like most people, I have an eclectic taste, but if pushed for one I would go for:
Album – The Best Of Peter, Paul And Mary: Ten Years Together
Film – Once Upon a Time in America by Sergio Leone
Novel – The Quiet American by Graham Greene
What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?
I never forget a face, but in your case I'll be glad to make an exception – Groucho Marx.
Who would be your dream dinner guests?
Robert Kennedy: it is hard to think of a more inspiring individual, and one for whom there was so much promise and hope attached. I have read much about him and documentaries on his visit to South Africa and the night that Martin Luther King was assassinated. Also, Graham Greene, who seemed to understand so much of the human condition and is an incredible writer. John Pilger, an incredibly inspiring journalist who has continually challenged the abuse of power and highlighted so much injustice in the world. Watching his documentaries is tough emotionally but I feel a much richer person for seeing them. Sam Cooke, an amazingly talented singer and songwriter and civil rights activist, and Adam Hochschild, whose writing is wonderful – I recommend that everyone read everything he has written.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I think it’s hard…many mistakes have been made, 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 guess just to say enjoy the moment. Some things come with experience, but one thing would be to have more confidence in my own abilities.
What would it surprise people to know about you?
I lived in Toronto for a few years in the 2000’s and have a deep affinity for the place and Canada in general. During the first time I was there, I worked as a photographer at the CN Tower and at Medieval Times where part of the job was to dress up in medieval costume!
What is your favourite place?
Hawick Park, Hawick is a small town in the Scottish borders. It brings back lots of childhood memories with my family and is a wonderful park. Also, Burley Moor in Yorkshire for the same reasons.