A day in the life: HE in FE leader

College-based HE director Miemie Neethling-Taylor is inspired by her “tenacious” students

How long have you been in your job?

I joined at the end of February 2020, three weeks before lockdown – a very interesting time to join any new organisation.

 

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

The students. I feel very passionate about the students and supporting them. Joining Croydon was a big decision, as I get to work with a diverse range of students from different backgrounds. The feeling I’m hopefully having a positive impact on their education and career paths, as well.

 

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

In an ideal world, when we’re in campus, every day without fail I get a coffee, walk past the staffroom and say hello to the lecturers.
If I’m not on campus, I check emails or I go back to my to-do list from the previous day and check progress on tasks – and it’s always with a coffee!

 

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

First and foremost, I speak to Fadia Clarke, vice-principal for training, skills and HE. We work very closely together on all sorts of operational aspects of higher education. She’s not just my line manager but also my mentor and is great for guidance and advice.

The second person is our higher education coordinator, Kim Meyler-Vincent. She has been with the college for 17 years and is a key part of the team. She knows the ins and outs of the university centre and supports our students on different levels, it allows me to get on with my job knowing the students are OK and in safe hands.

 

What’s the best thing about your job?

Seeing how students grow in confidence and progress. Even though I’ve not been here long, being with students, working with them, understanding their story, knowing where they’ve come from and where they’re going is really inspiring. Our students aren’t normally from traditional higher education pathways and a lot of them have their own responsibilities, their own children and jobs. They’re inspiring, tenacious and committed.

 

And the worst?

The worst thing, particularly during lockdown, has been losing that personal interaction. Everything has moved to emails and I’m now in so many virtual meetings, it makes the working day extend into long hours to ensure we get the job done.

Those water-cooler moments and ‘corridor catch ups’ where you solve an issue in two minutes, have unfortunately all disappeared.

 

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

A positive mindset, can-do attitude and having a sense of humour counts for a lot. And also remembering why we’re here – education.

 

How did you get into your job?

I’ve almost come full circle. I started at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa as a researcher and junior lecturer. I then moved several times across continents but was lucky enough to join a further education college five years ago which put me back on track to higher education; my passion. I feel really grateful to be part of higher education again and for the opportunity at Croydon University Centre.

I get to work with not only our own centre but also collaboratively with different university partners.

 

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

I think my honesty, directness, sense of humour and having a forward-thinking approach to addressing and solving long-term targets and ambitions.

 

Which five words sum up your typical day?

Meetings, emails, students, collaboration, partnerships.

 

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

I’ve always loved books, and as a child I wanted to be a journalist, so I would probably be a writer.

Miemie Neethling-Taylor is head of higher education at Croydon University Centre, Croydon College

 


 

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