A day in the life: Beverley Gibbs

The chief academic officer at NMITE isn’t a massive fan of the video meeting

How long have you been in your job?

I joined NMITE full-time in July 2020, but had a few months at a day-a-week before that as I completed my teaching at the University of Sheffield (mechanical engineering) and supported our switch to online assessment as Covid-19 closed the campus.

What is it about your job that gets you out of bed in the morning?

Knowing that NMITE will offer a great learning environment for our future students and knowing how great it will be for our staff when our students arrive. It’s what they’re all here for and it’s great to be in an environment where a concern for high-quality learning is so shared and so near the surface.

What’s the first thing you do when you get into work?

Unpack my rucksack, tidy my desk, look at my calendar for the day, and open up a new page in my notebook.

Who are the two or three people you talk to on a daily basis?

The other three ‘chiefs’ – we meet at lunch three times a week but continue many conversations in-between. They are Elena Rodriguez-Falcon (chief executive officer), James Newby (chief operating officer) and David Langley (chief of external engagement), and conversations span learning spaces, governance, student recruitment, how our teams are doing, industrial and community partnerships, growth plans and stakeholder management. As a startup, all of these things are very dynamic and need a lot of active management.

“As new HE providers started to make a noise I realised I wanted to be on the inside helping make it happen.”

What’s the best thing about your job?

That everything I do matters. I couldn’t name a single part of my job that is unnecessary or ‘going through the motions’. That’s a good place to be.

And the worst?

I have a lot of meetings, and when these are happening on video it gets pretty tiring and a lot less creative than I’d like.

Your number one most vital prop/tool/piece of equipment?

Paperback notebook and electronic calendar. Completely digital doesn’t work for me, and neither does completely analogue.

How did you get into your job?

I was a production engineer in industry for the first part of my career and moved to academia bringing with me a good sense of what engineers do in industry and a conviction that it’s a great career.

I quickly fell in love with teaching and moved into teaching-specialist roles in engineering departments where I learned my craft, innovated and led change. As new HE providers started to make a noise I realised I wanted to be on the inside helping make it happen rather than on the outside looking in.

What is it about your personality that makes you suitable for the role?

NMITE has recently launched as a new provider of higher education in what is an extremely turbulent environment, with evolving regulation/policy and in the midst of a pandemic. It helps to be decisive, comfortable in ambiguity, have a well-developed sense of measured risk and a clear sense of what we are trying to do and why it is important. And a sense of humour helps.

Which five words sum up your typical day?

Scenarios. Decisions. Academic Team. Wordsmithing.

If you weren’t in this role, what would you be?

Playing bass guitar and writing lyrics in the world’s greatest rock band.


Beverley Gibbs is chief academic officer at The New Model Institute for Technology and Engineering (NMITE) in Hereford

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