UCL News


Spotlight on... Harriet Lilley

22 July 2021

This week we meet Harriet Lilley, Departmental Manager and Executive Assistant at UCL Innovation & Enterprise. Here, Harriet chats to us about embedding sustainability into her work and her top tips from her travels abroad.

Harriet Lilley

What is your role and what does it involve?

There are two elements to my role, as my job title is Departmental Manager and Executive Assistant. It involves ensuring the UCL Innovation & Enterprise offices are running smoothly, safely and are fit for purpose. Working with my Office Team we also ensure the same for our HR systems, facilities, estates, IT support, directorate level support and internal comms. As part of making sure the office functions well, I lead on Green Impact. Green Impact is a UCL-wide environmental competition and accreditation scheme. The scheme brings people together as a department and encourages teamwork to focus on improving our environmental impact.

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

I’ve been at UCL since 2006, initially in UCL Academic Services, then UCL Psychology and Language Sciences (PALS), and now UCL Innovation & Enterprise. I’ve always been interested in sustainability, and I’ve been a Green Champion in all of my roles as I moved through UCL. When I started my current role in UCL Innovation & Enterprise the department hadn’t yet been involved with the Green Impact scheme. This was a great opportunity for me to share my expertise and learnings from my previous roles, in particular PALS as they have consistently scored Gold in Green Impact.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

This year at the UCL Sustainability Awards Ceremony UCL Innovation & Enterprise won the Gold Green Impact Office Award. We have won this award every year for the past four years, and I’m proud of the change in our ways of working. When we started making changes to how we run the office in more sustainable ways four years ago, we went straight from zero to gold. We’ve built on that achievement, and now sustainability is embedded in how we work.

Thinking about environmental impact is now business as usual, rather than a one-off piece of activity. It’s part and parcel of what we do, and more people are getting involved year on year. It’s built into our processes, and has a broader reach, because it’s not just about what we do in the office but how we support sustainability activities across UCL. From supporting with knowledge exchange funding, supporting student and graduate startups, partnering with externals to how we get involved with the UN Sustainability Goals. This work just happens without anyone having to push for change, which is exactly what I’d hoped for.

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

At the moment I have two strands of projects coming together. I am getting staff ready for returning to campus, and also working with UCL Business and UCL Consultants, both part of UCL Innovation & Enterprise, to move into our new joint office at 90 Tottenham Court Road. The new office opens in September and we have a unique opportunity to establish how we can work best together and in a new hybrid model. This will include bringing sustainability good practice into one shared office space.

What is your favourite album, film and novel?

Hounds of Love by Kate Bush;
Lost in Translation;
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.

What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?

What did the Tin Man say when he got run over by a steamroller?
“Curses! Foil again!”

Who would be your dream dinner guests?

Textile artist Kaffe Fassett, who creates incredible works with colour, as I’d love to get some colour inspiration. Maangchi, who is a Korean food YouTuber, to hear about Korean pickles and fermented foods. Bill Murray, because it’s Bill Murray. And finally, Michaela Strachan, as I’ve grown up watching her on TV and she would be a great person to chat with about wildlife.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I’d give some practical advice, which is however delicious it is don’t eat the unpasteurised yogurt on your visit to India.

What would it surprise people to know about you?

There’s a statue of my ancestor in central London from 1867.

What is your favourite place?

In a traditional Japanese mountain onsen.