Work at UCL


Frank Sowrey

Departmental Manager, Department of Economics

What is your role and what does it involve?

As Departmental Manager I lead the professional services staff for the department. This is a broad remit and the team covers facilities management, IT provision and support, financial management and budgeting, plus support for the department's academic staff, postgraduate researchers and for the 1,100+ students on Economics taught programmes.

Although not formally part of my role I am an active member of the Association of University Administrators (AUA) and am a local AUA branch advocate at UCL and am part of the team planning and running events for members and staff. I delivered staff development workshops at the annual conference in both 2017 and 2018 on different topics and I was also asked to deliver a similar presentation at the Faculty of Population Health Sciences away day.

How long have you been at UCL?

I started at UCL in November 2016 so am coming up on my second anniversary in post.

What attracted you to UCL?

UCL has a fantastic reputation for the breadth and quality of the research undertaken and a truly global outlook. Despite the size of the organisation there is a real sense of community and commitment to the ideals on which the University was founded. I am incredibly proud to be working with committed and dedicated colleagues across the organisation.

What and where was your previous role?

Before moving to UCL I was in a similar role managing the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Actuarial Science at the University of Kent.

What working achievement or initiative at UCL (or in previous work experiences) are you most proud of? 

I am always looking to get involved with projects and initiatives across the University. Since starting at UCL have been working on a range of projects within the Department and at Faculty level aimed at improving the experience for staff and students. I was very keen to get involved with TOPS, I am an advocate for the Associate of University Administrators (AUA) and have presented twice at the AUA annual conference. 

In my previous role I was involved in the planning for a new academic building at Kent to house my department and the Kent Business School. This was very much a new departure for me having never been involved in a project of that scale before. I was able to contribute to the project ensuring that the needs of the students and staff were kept foremost in the design process. The building was completed in December 2016 just as I left Kent and was recently awarded a RIBA prize for the design. I am very proud of the contribution I made to the project particularly as it is rare for my role to produce a concrete (pun intended) outcome.

Describe UCL in three words.

Complex. Vital. Dynamic.

What is the best aspect about working at UCL?

Without a doubt, the people at UCL are the greatest thing about being here. I feel I am lucky to have good people around me both in my immediate team and the contacts I have made in the wider UCL community. There is a strong sense of purpose and all the people I have come across are clearly dedicated to delivering excellent results (albeit sometimes under challenging circumstances).

What does it feel like to be part of the UCL community?  

For such a large organisation UCL somehow manages still to be very friendly and I enjoy working in such a diverse and lively environment.

What are your future career aspirations?

I am not sure what my future aspirations are, my drive is to make a positive difference.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I have 3 children, what’s spare time? I read a lot of novels (usually one or two per week) tinker with computers. I like to hunt out bargains at car boot fairs and I keep promising myself I will get more exercise.