What it’s like to be… Head of the media school

Lee Hall shares his typical day leading a diverse school at the University of Sunderland

Lee Hall leads the School of Media and Communications in the Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries at the University of Sunderland, overseeing subjects including media, journalism, performance and social media management. He has been at the university since 2010, where his successes include developing an innovative mediaHub learning space – complete with BBC news team that works alongside students.

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

I make decisions or I’m involved in decision-making processes every single day. There is a real sense of momentum in my role. I have an opportunity to move things forward, meet the many challenges head-on and innovate. Frankly, I love it.

Q. What is the first thing you do when you get into work?

Admire the views! I’m very fortunate to work at St Peter’s, our riverside campus. Some days I have a walking meeting down to Roker beach – it’s 10 minutes away and there’s a fantastic coffee shop on
the seafront. Some great ideas are hatched on that little walk.

Q. Who are the two to three people that you talk to every day?

It varies, but at the moment I’m talking to colleagues at the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) as we’re hosting their annual conference in November. I speak to my HR business partner very frequently – I’m investing a lot of time and energy into developing staff and she is a crucial partner in that.

Q. What is the best thing about your job?

Well, it’s not pondering a post-Augar future… Really, it’s all about the students and that’s the mantra I adopt whenever I am making decisions. Some of the work they produce knocks my socks off. And they often go on to have amazing careers.

Q. What is your biggest challenge?

This week? Clearly there are some hefty contexts which I can’t influence. I try to concentrate on the things I can change – such as future-proofing the offer, improving student experience and having a positive impact on the institution. I keep a close eye on the media and communications sector so I’m able to prepare for what’s next.

Q. How did you get into your job?

I was a journalist and started doing some part-time teaching, then I signed up for an MA here at the University of Sunderland. I became a senior lecturer in magazine journalism, then was promoted to principal lecturer and again in January 2018 to head of school.

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

I’m driven. When you have such a range of staff, subjects and students it does take a bit of energy to keep things moving forward. I’m pretty personable, which helps bring people with me. 

And I have integrity, which I hope helps people accept the decisions I make that don’t go their way.

Q. What five words sum up your typical day?

No need to reply all.

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

Sadly my football career ended before it began. So, I’d be a freelance journalist. I still do a little bit for the Professional Footballers’ Association magazine – it’s great fun. 

You might also like: Jon Timmis appointed VC (commercial) for University of Sunderland

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