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March 2009
archived edition of Ripples
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Staff and Area Profile

Liz Prendergast-Jones, Manager, cbsplus - Professional Leadership Program

Liz Prendergast-Jones
Liz Prendegast-Jones

1. What do you most enjoy about being involved with Curtin?
I thoroughly enjoy the environment and the flexibility of my job. But most of all, I love the students I work with and the cbsplus staff who have assisted me in delivering a unique program. They are fun, friendly, energetic, motivated and amazing human beings.

2. Who or what do you think has been most influential on you - either personally or professionally?
My parents, my education and my family: My parents for providing an incredible family environment and for believing that women must have a higher education; my school (Loreto), my universities (UWA & Curtin) and my life journey for providing many valuable opportunities, experiences and amazing friendships. My daughter, three sons, foster son and their families for endless love, support and encouragement.

3.What qualities do you think Australian leaders should possess?
Vision, honesty, intelligence, independence, integrity, toughness and compassion and above all: true leadership.

4.How many years have you been involved with Curtin and how did this association start?
Over 20 years. I first came as a mature age student to update my knowledge in literature. I studied the Literature, Language and Communications course which was one of the best courses I have been fortunate enough to study. I later enrolled in CBS and was offered the job with cbsplus. I had no idea what it involved but have loved the concept of developing students professionally and personally in a way that is complementary to the academic program.

5.What do you consider to be the most challenging aspect of your role at Curtin?
Apart from understanding the politics?

Probably it would be keeping ahead of the trends that will impact our students in the business world, developing and maintaining good relationships with business and constantly tailoring the cbsplus program to the needs of the latest intake of students.

6.What did you do before you worked at Curtin?
I trained and worked initially as a teacher of Literature and English. I then became a mother of four and foster mother of one. During that time, I established and ran two businesses: one for twenty five years providing private tuition for secondary and tertiary students; the other involved setting up a coffee school for a company and writing and delivering training courses for a wide range of their clients and other businesses.

7.If you could invite 6 people (living or from history) to dinner who would they be and why would you include them?
In their own ways, they are all independent thinkers and were prepared to risk criticism for their beliefs. Is the table big enough for their personalities?

Mahatma Ghandi - I have admired his teachings and his strength since I discovered his writings at university. He would contribute ideas and silences.
Richard Branson - he seems energetic, innovative and fun. He often works alongside his staff to see what the job really entails. He would add humour.
John Lennon - Just imagine! He was quirky and had a great vision for the world. The words may have faded but the music lingers on.
Anne McAffrey - US/Irish writer of speculative fiction who created alternative historical worlds. One theme of breaking with tradition encouraged readers to take a fresh view of their own world. Alternative views.
Helene Cixous - French/Algerian feminist writer well known from the 1970s. She adds flair and conflicting ideas.
Mathilde de Prendergast - 12th century ancestor- Her father's heir who was forced to marry young after his death. I would love to know more about her.

8.What task/project/role has given you most satisfaction?
The triple roles of mother, business woman and educator. It's wonderful to see someone or something you have helped grow reach the stage where they take off and fly unassisted.

9.What are your aspirations for Curtin University?
I would love to see the whole of Curtin University involved in developing the students - and staff - as rounded people - academically, professionally and personally. Expanding the cbsplus program into Curtinplus across the campus will be a wonderful start.

10.Do you have a motto or a creed that you live by?
It's a good start to try to treat others the way you would like to be treated.

I tell my students: Aim Higher. They often don't know what they are capable of until they have a go! It' s the same for all of us.

 

Jim Mitchell
Associate Director, Student Services (Admission and Scholarships)

Jim Mitchell
Jim Mitchell

1. How long have you been involved with Curtin and how did this association start?
I joined the staff in June but I have actually been involved with Curtin in some way since I came to Perth in 1984. At that stage I was in charge of admissions at UWA and we had frequent inter-university meetings. In Perth, in university admissions and closely-related areas such as the future student operations and schools liaison, what one university does impacts on all the others, so we got to know each others' staff, policies and practices pretty well. Over the years I moved more into international student marketing at UWA where I often worked together with Curtin in a WA universities group. Then I moved into a marketing position with what is now Navitas, promoting pathway programs to universities, one of which was Curtin. So a fair bit of contact and indirect involvement over the years. Some of the people now in senior positions at Curtin - Jeanette Hacket, Jane den Hollander, Walter Ong and Alan Rendell for example - I got to know quite well on the way

2. What exactly does your job entail?
My position is a new one. I'm in between the Director of Student Services, John Rowe and his section managers and can take a wider view to allow us to look at issues which we may need to improve or respond to. I hope I'm making some contribution to my specific areas of Admissions and Scholarships and I'm currently looking at issues such as minimum English requirements, the overall admissions and enrolments processes and future scholarship strategies - but I'm still getting to grips with the University as a whole. As in any university, there is a long learning curve.

3. What do you most enjoy about being involved with Curtin?
I guess its the friendliness of the staff in this area and the approachability of staff in general. There is also a sense that this is still an institution which is discovering itself; working out what sort of university it wants to be and what it and its degree should represent. That's exciting.

4. Who or what do you think has been most influential on you - either personally or professionally?
Personally: I'd love to give a profound answer but I guess it has to be my childhood. We were pretty poor and life was tough for most families in my village. So I have never assumed a right to a certain lifestyle or taken possessions for granted. Professionally: my time at the Open University in the UK. It was such a young vibrant institution with a belief in itself and a respect for all points of view. Because we felt we had to prove ourselves to the established universities before we could be taken seriously, there was an incredibly high level of professionalism combined with an awareness of the needs of students, professional bodies and employers. It was way ahead of its time and great fun.

5. Are you satisfied with your achievements or is there something else you would still like to do?
Oh there is a fair bit I'd like to achieve at Curtin but I am pretty happy with where I am in career terms. My ambitions are more basic now - getting fit, being a good dad, surviving long enough to see my kids grow up!

6. If you had the ability to change anything about Australia, what would that be?
After 26 years I can still see Australia with my new migrant's eyes. I think it is a wonderful country. I'm sure there are things I'd change if I had god-like powers but I wish people could look around the world a bit before they whinge about problems here.

7. What is your best childhood memory?
The complete freedom to do as we liked in early childhood. I was brought up in a small village in Scotland on the River Tay and, while I suppose in retrospect we were under scrutiny the whole time - certainly everyone knew more about me than I did - it seemed that we were able to play out our imaginations unfettered. We charged around on our bikes oblivious to road rules and traffic, dropped into the bakery for free handouts, climbed along trees which had fallen into the river and made rafts on it. Usually childhood memories exaggerate sizes and images but when I went back to the village after many years I was surprised just how big those trees must have been and how serious a river the Tay is. We were doing these things at pre-school age and none of us could swim. Things have changed!

8. What is your best professional memory?
Lots of good ones and they're still coming! But last year I did a student support project for UWA which involved visiting some of the top universities in North America. Everyone was incredibly friendly and helpful - from Berkeley to Harvard - but walking through the portals of 77 Massachusetts Avenue and down the ‘infinite corridor' to a 1:1 meeting with Betsy Hicks, MIT's Executive Director of Student Financial Services, was an extraordinary moment. I knew that Betsy had been Harvard's Dean of Admissions for many years and had run the entire US federal student aid program for 3 years during the Clinton administration so there was, to put it mildly, a little trepidation on my part. But the half hour meeting over-ran by 2 hours and was fascinating - both in terms of how similar and how different our educational systems are, and the budgets we work within!

9. What are your main interests outside Curtin?
I'd love to say sailing but I have a young family so that's it for now. Being a dad again.

10. What's the best advice you have ever received?
Engage - with what you are doing, with the people you meet, with life. It's good advice - being a dour Scot at heart I still have to remind myself to do it sometimes.

11. What makes you laugh? Oh that's easy.
My 4 year old when HE laughs at his own jokes. Cracks me up.

12. If you could invite a few people (living or from history) to dinner who would they be and why would you include them?
George Bush - I'd love to ask him what on earth he thought he was doing.

 

Area Profile

Future Students Centre

Curtin's Future Students Centre was recently located in the newly refurbished Hayman Hall in Building 102 on 29 September. It has been created to provide our future students with a dedicated service to answer their questions about studying at Curtin.

Future Students Centre

This initiative was a result of the Customer Management Project in 2007 which focussed on addressing the University's conversion rate of 'interest to enrolment'. The comprehensive project outcomes resulted in:

  • implementing a CRM system in February 2008 to capture critical information about future students,
  • establishing the Customer Management Unit in March 2008 to support Faculties/Areas using a Standardised Enquiry Management model for future student enquiries, and
  • merging the Customer Management Unit and Prospective Student Services to form the Future Students Centre as the main touch point for future students at Curtin.

The Centre is the first port of call for any questions future students, parents, teachers and career advisors may have about studying at Curtin. The Centre consists of Customer Management Unit and Prospective Student Services.

If the Future Students Centre staff do not have the immediate answer to any questions, the friendly Customer Service Officers can direct future students to the right area and people for help.

The Prospective Student Services team host information sessions and tours of the Bentley Campus throughout the year and parents, advisors and students are welcome to attend.

The main objective is to improve the service provided to prospects to streamline the information gathering process for them to ultimately come to study at Curtin as their University of choice. The results returned by the 2008 Mystery Shop confirmed that the future student experience at Curtin has improved markedly from 67% in 2007 to 83% in 2008. Curtin ranked ahead of other WA universities on all key indicators (eg response time, information provided, knowledge of staff, friendliness, enquiry follow up, etc) which is attributed to the contribution made by the Customer Management Unit.

The next stage is to leverage these capabilities and rollout the CRM system, expand services and support to all University areas, and formalise a Customer Management Strategy for the Curtin.

http://futurestudents.curtin.edu.au

(08) 9266 1000

1300 CU 1000

Hayman Hall
Refurbished Hayman Hall

Future Student Centre Staff:

Customer Management Unit:

Linda Deutsch, Sofia Girardi, Mandy Bennett, Christina Lau, Andrew Gibson and Chiraag Shah

Prospective Student Services:

Leisa Wheatland, Sue Whitelaw, Anne Crouch, Leigh MacPherson, Richard Jones and Lana Hoffman

Administration:

David Lee-Steere and Ezrina Fewings

START (Student Transition and Retention Team)

START, Curtin

START has relocated to Building 102, Hayman Hall (from the Hub, Building 599) and its business as per usual. Start continue to provide orientation and transition services for students plus student retention programs for staff.

A dynamic and friendly team of six welcomed the International Student Advisers to their team to enhance their student centred service.

Sharing 102 with the Future Students Centre is giving them the opportunity to provide students with a wide range of services.

START's student focussed programs and projects can be found at www.unilife.curtin.edu.au and staff looking for student retention ideas can go to www.retention.curtin.edu.au

Please drop in!

 

     Staff and Area Profiles