My Melbourne with Mary-Louise Huppatz

July 14 / 140

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Welcome to My Melbourne; I'm Stuart Winthrope. Today I'll be talking to Mary-Louise Huppatz. Mary-Louise, thank you for joining us. 

Morning Stuart.

Now tell me, what is your role at the University?

I've got a couple of roles at the moment. I'm based at the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, I'm their Manager (Planning and Operations), but I'm also on secondment to BIP (Business improvement Program) at the moment, so I'm based in Raymond Priestley. And I have another third, unofficial role, and that is as the Chair of the organising committee for the University of Melbourne Professional Staff Conference.

Great, and how long have you been working with the University?

I’ve been here eight years. I moved here from the University of Sydney, I made the move south and have enjoyed every moment of it.

Can you tell me a bit more about your role with the Professional Staff Conference?

Absolutely, I’d love to talk about the staff conference. The Professional Staff Conference emerged a couple of years ago. It came from a meeting at a conference actually. I met Margaret Ruwoldt and Sally Newton from the Library, and we were talking about a session that we’d been to where a person from another university spoke about a day where the university brought professional staff together. 

It got us thinking about the opportunities here at Melbourne. What I found from talking with them was that although Architecture and the Library are very distinctive units but there were some things that they were doing which were very interesting and we had this conversation about the shared knowledge that we had. And then we started to talk about well whether we could have a conference at Melbourne. Could we bring professional staff together and hear what other people are doing? This went on for a while and then we stepped back and thought, ‘Perhaps we should have a go at doing this.’

It was a really interesting process. We had to think about how to get something like this up within the University – it doesn’t belong to one unit, it doesn’t belong to a faculty or to an essential division, but it’s a University project. 

We were very lucky. We approached Ian Marshman with a project plan and he was very supportive. We were given some seed funding by the University to get us up and going, and Ian’s acted as our sponsor and we have an advisory board in place as well. Late last year we formed an organising committee; we have nine staff across the University – an amazing group of professional staff who are all very excited about delivering a conference that staff will remember, and we hope that it will become part of the University calendar. 

Great, and when will the conference be held?

It’s September the 11th this year at the State Library of Victoria. It’s going to be a really exciting day. The theme is Good Practice, Great Outcomes, Delivering Excellence at the University of Melbourne.  We’re bringing in two key speakers to talk about that theme and we will have staff presentations, we’ve currently got 34 abstracts of people who want to be involved in the day, and we’re just looking at them at the moment to build our final program.

How can staff be involved in the conference? 

We’ve had a lot of interest already, but we’re going to start a process where staff can register their interest in attending, which will go out in Staff News at the end of next week.

What’s the best thing about working at the University?  

I think for me it’s about the range of people who work here and the scope of activities. I’ve worked for a number of organisations in my time and they all focus on doing one thing, whereas at the University we have so many things happening at the same time, and that diversity is just amazing.

Do you have a favourite place for food and coffee on campus? 

I have a lot of favourite places, and as I said before, I think I might get into trouble if I specify one favourite over the others, so at the moment I probably spend time between Castro’s, Lot 6, Standing Room, Carte Crepes, and quite a few others.

What’s a good piece of advice you’ve received? 

One of the great things about the University is I’ve had some wonderful managers who I’ve worked with, and I’ve learnt a lot from them, but a recent piece of advice I’ve received has really stayed with me, and that’s to understand your value to an organisation, and what you bring to your roll, because that helps you focus on what you do, and what you do well. 

I’m Stuart Winthrope, this has been My Melbourne, thank you for joining us. 

For more information on the Professional Staff Conference, visit: www.staffconference.unimelb.edu.au.

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