About This Guest Post

Andrew Millar, Head of Web Services at the University of Dundee, will give a plenary talk at the IWMW 2017 event in the opening session which has the theme “The End Of The World?“. The title of Andrew’s talk is “Having a Good Crisis…and Not Wasting It” and in this guest post he gives the background to the talk.

Battling the Negative

I imagine that most people reading this, especially if you’re in the higher education sector, will have gone through, or are still going through, turbulent times. We’ve been going through it for what seems like an eternity with change and upheaval having become the norm. It can sometimes feel like you’re only a pay check away from being restructured out.

Lots of people I know have been affected by this process. Some have lost their jobs or left and some have been downgraded. Whilst, not all have suffered financially, indeed some have done well out of it, most have had their social circles affected and disrupted. We’re having to establish new working relationships, build new bonds, and work with people we previously wouldn’t have had any contact with. The processes and procedures that we knew previously are being thrown out, and new ways of working are being introduced on an almost daily basis.

So, in the midst of all that, there’s nothing like having a good old moan to each other. Within our teams, with friends and family and through our networks, the opportunities to complain are boundless. We’re fortunate in HE that we have well established networks like IWMW, Scottish Web Folk and even new Slack channels connecting us. We can talk to each other, we know what each other is going through and we can sympathise and console each other as we share collective misery.

However, it can’t half be a toxic environment to work in after a while. It’s easy to start to lose sight of the good things that we’re doing and the successes we’re having. You start to spend your days thinking of new and exciting ways to get back at that person or department who wronged you and you eventually lose the bigger picture as you focus on the small details. Work becomes something to dread as you wake every morning rather than what you remember it was like in the good old days when you jumped out of bed and raced into the office.

Comrades, a revolution is needed!

No, not the banding together to rise up and save the oppressed, but a wave of positivity! For many of us, we choose to work in a University because we actually believe in their mission to accumulate and disseminate information for the betterment of the human race. We’re excited to work with people who are leaders in their field. We feel a great sense of pride when we see the latest success being announced.

We need to beat the negativity and celebrate the positives. We need to celebrate our colleagues, both academics and professional services alike. We need to appreciate the pain points of our clients and work with them to find solutions that benefit both sides. We need to challenge our colleagues who are negative by finding the positive. Why should I feel guilty about enjoying my job? Sure, life is hard, but where’s the challenge if it isn’t?

It won’t be easy, and we’ll get discouraged, but we can do it! We’re working in one of the most exciting areas, with new things coming up on an almost weekly basis. We hold the keys to our institutions success, so let’s have fun and build each other up through a collective celebration of our successes in the midst of adversity!


Andrew Millar leads a team of 15 to deliver the institutional web presence. He is currently involved in restructuring teams, developing web strategy and changing the culture of how they do web. Andrew would love to speak to anyone interested in delivering sessions on cultural or strategic change or new technical innovations.

  • Email: a.j.millar@dundee.ac.uk
  • LinkedIn: millaraj