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At AUDE we’ve been polishing the Summer School programme for nearly five years now. We want Summer School to be an intensive residential programme that helps future directors of estates across a wide range of issues, some technical, some managerial and behavioural. And so we have asked recent delegates Jack Hunter and Wayne Jones about their experience. Put simply, does Summer School work?
Ahead of Summer School 2022 at the University of Glasgow we spoke to Wayne Jones, Head of Estates Management at Bangor University, to guide us through his Summer School experience.
Wayne explained. “I came away from the AUDE Summer School feeling more comfortable and confident in my own capabilities. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a ‘Summer School’ but I really enjoyed the content - it looked well beyond the infrastructure side of estates and facilities. There was so much more in terms of the student experience and the holistic impact estates and facilities has across all elements of the university community. In fact, I’ve recommended two of my colleagues attend the next Summer School as I know they would also benefit massively from that aspect.
"Listening to the different speakers, a lot of them Directors of Estates, it become a lot clearer how wide ranging that role is and for my own institution in Bangor, how critical the civic role our university has within the local community. I’ve got a new appreciation for the influence directors of estates have with local authorities, government and wider stakeholders.
"The strongest network I created was with my immediate project team. We’ve been in close contact in the months following the Summer School. Now when I go to an AUDE event, for example their annual conference, I can walk into the room recognising faces and immediately strike up a conversation which in turn, expands my network even further. It’s really helped me feel more comfortable going into these situations.
“For delegates thinking of booking onto Summer School 2022 at the University of Glasgow, I would say expect a welcoming atmosphere. We were connected quickly within our project teams as well as the wider delegate group and therefore felt relaxed in each other’s company from the beginning. The whole programme was very well structured and expertly facilitated. There is lots of rich content and opportunity to engage with the programme, and if you do that, you will benefit. I was pleasantly surprised that lots of delegates were at similar stages in their career and so I didn’t feel out of place. Be prepared for a full on but equally rewarding time. I would definitely recommend it.
“After Summer School, I realised I’d perhaps underestimated myself and my knowledge which helped with my confidence. Being part of the winning project team allowed me to attend the AUDE annual conference which I absolutely would have not put myself forward for had it not been for my time at Summer School. I would now put myself forward for similar opportunities. It pushed me out of my comfort zone but I’m thoroughly enjoying it.”
Ahead of AUDE’s 2021 Summer School, we caught up with recently promoted Jack Hunter, Deputy Director (Estates) at Newcastle University, and a Summer School graduate from 2019. Summer School aims to support the next generation of HE estates leaders in their career development. Organised as a high intensity residential course – in 2021 we’ll be staying at the University of Birmingham – we believe the combination of speakers, content, group and project work and a ready-made and ongoing network of peers makes attendance at Summer School a great proposition for colleagues with the ambition and skills to move through the ranks to senior leadership. But does Jack Hunter agree? What value did he get from the experience?
“There are huge benefits to attending Summer School,” Jack said. “But for me the two standout items were confidence development and the network.
“It was a real test for me. Sitting in those sessions with peers from across the country, and with international delegates too, could I hold my own in that environment? Did I feel comfortable, and could I engage at the right level on the detail, the technical and the strategic? Was I confident that I was in the right place, and did it feel like my career aspirations were realistic? To come away from such an intense programme and feel that the answer was ‘Yes’ was a huge confidence boost. The entire cohort were engaging and supportive and I feel I learnt just as much from each of them as from the structured speakers.
“The Summer School network has been invaluable to me. I was in a project group with colleagues from across the country and I can’t sing their praises highly enough. We were able to support each other at the time, in developing our project (which we subsequently presented at the AUDE Conference), and we’ve stuck together throughout Covid in all kinds of ways – sharing plans, JDs, or approaches on some of the massive tasks that have had to be completed urgently and from a standing start during the last 18 months.
“The way Summer School was structured really worked for my learning style. To be able to get away from the day job for a concentrated chunk of time and for that time to be packed so fully with information is spot on – it felt like an efficient way to take on a lot. It made for an intense experience but the level and quality of speakers and the content they shared was really excellent. Having access to VCs, directors of estates and international speakers, all focusing on helping delegates plot the career path forward, was of really high value to me.
“For instance, the session on influencing the Board really made an impression, helping me think about the needs of the final decision-makers when creating proposals or explaining estates decisions. And the session on working in an age of accelerating change, led by Don Guckert the Chair of AUDE’s equivalent US organisation, APPA, felt hugely pertinent – he talked about technology, skills development, sustainability and more in a time of endless disruption.
“Does Summer School work? As a way to maximise your learning, and gain access to great speakers and information, it is of really high quality and value. It’s a fantastic opportunity.”
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