A week in the life of an Operations Manager, Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham

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By Ian Hamley


Like most working days the alarm clock goes off at 0600 hrs so that I can get my son to the bus stop and daughter to breakfast club. I’m usually starting the commute across Birmingham at 0730 hrs.

Armed with a large latte, the first appointment of the day is the School’s ‘Professional Services Leadership Group’ which is my monthly opportunity to meet all of my direct reports. Recently, we’ve been doing a lot of work around setting out our own service level standards so that internally we know what excellent service looks like to our students and staff. The feedback is that we’re on the right tracks with 92% of respondents telling us that we provide a service that at least exceeds expectations – 20% of respondents told us we provided an excellent service. This is an excellent start for us and we talk through how we will make this a ‘business as usual’ activity so that we can always aim to give our stakeholders a high-quality service across all of our key services.

A mixture of e-mails and meetings for the rest of the day take me through to 1730 when I head back across the city to get home.


This morning is the first meeting of the 2015/16 academic year for the School’s Senior Management Team where we welcome a number of new Faculty to key School leadership roles. As always, it is a busy and varied agenda including a series of updates on key University and College activity. It soon becomes clear that the summer has not been the ‘quiet time’ that many outside of the higher education sector often think it is!

Our discussions included how we will strengthen the links between SMT and a diverse suite of sub-Committees, developing a series of Tableau management information reports and dashboards across core areas of the School’s activities and receiving updates on our student recruitment position. We also finalise the launch plans for a new and high profile research institute which will be housed by the School – City Redi.


In the morning the School hosts a half day welcome event for new academic and professional services staff and I provide a summary of the School’s Committee structure and an oversight of the School’s Professional Services Team. This is the second time that we’ve run an annual event such as this and the overall feedback is that colleagues find it extremely useful and helpful.

Thursday As co-Branch Advocate for the Association of University Administrators I get the unexpected news that the University had one of the fastest growing memberships nationally in 2014/15 and we have been given a modest sum of money from the Midlands Region to spend on an event for members. Great news! Clearly I now need to figure out how to spend it wisely…


I attend the Chartered Association of Business School’s Professional Manager’s Committee in London, where we make the final plans and arrangements for this year’s Conference for professional services managers. The Committee meets every 3 months at the Association’s Head Office but this time we meet at Regents College – the venue for this year’s conference. Our plans have really come together over the summer and we have managed to secure a very interesting mix of high profile academics, professional services leaders and commentators to talk at the Conference. Having worked in a business school for just over 2 years, this Committee also provides me with the opportunity to meet and learn from other business school managers and it’s clear that no matter what kind of business school we work in, we are all facing similar ‘pressures’, ‘challenges’ and ‘opportunities’!

The trip back home is thankfully uneventful with no delays to the train and I have a few hours to catch up on the day’s e-mail in readiness for the weekend ahead. I try not to do any work over the weekend (been there…done that) and instead focus on far less glamourous activities like the weekly food shop, trying to tame the back garden and ironing multiple mountains of clothes for the week ahead.

Ian Hamley
Operations Manager, Birmingham Business School