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Public Engagement

Being an engaged professional – 'One Team'


Written by Charlotte Thorley,
Executive Officer for Public Engagement

On Thursday this week I was fortunate enough to attend our half-yearly Professional Services conference. The theme was ‘One Team’, looking at how we ensure our staff are engaged with each other, with the values and work of the institution, and how this makes us perform better for the good of the institution. As soon as the term engagement came up it got me thinking.

Much of the discussion around public engagement focusses, quite naturally, on the academic staff of the institution. I would like to propose, however, that one of the things that has made the QMUL Centre for Public Engagement so effective so far has been the support we’ve had from our professional services teams, and all the other staff roles across the institution.

I consider myself to be an engaged professional; open to collaboration and working across teams, but also aware of the needs of our institution and the drivers behind our activities. This makes sense for someone who heads up a Centre for Public Engagement. But I’m not the only one.

In 2013 we held a round of staff consultations to help shape the new QMUL strategy for 2014 and beyond, and the responses were overwhelmingly in favour of QMUL maintaining our value of our place in the community, be that locally or globally. Staff were motivated by themes of contribution, diversity, inclusivity, and benefit to society. This is a great baseline to be starting from.

You can see this in the actions of individuals. Recently, in a Queen Mary collaboration with the BFI, running a youth club focussed on making films in the French style, a colleague from the Residences team came in on a Saturday to allow them to use one of our flats for visiting academics. One of our Faculty Operating Officers has enabled the Centre to get involved with the team redeveloping some of their buildings, so we might consider engagement and enterprise activities in the new plans. Someone in HR pushed for public engagement to be explicitly mentioned in our promotions criteria for academics.

Actions like these may take several hours, or a moment, but they are all immensely valuable in building an engagement-friendly culture within our institution.

So to everyone who has forwarded an email, passed on a contact, told their friends, remembered to include engagement in developing a new policy, to you all we say thank you! And we hope you carry on the good work. In the meantime the CPE will continue to push for engagement to be recognised in the professional services structures as well as the academic ones.

By Charlotte Thorley 
Executive Officer for Public Engagement 
Queen Mary University of London



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