Today’s “60 Seconds With …” interview is with Ayala Gordon, Head of Digital at the University of Southampton.
1. How do you describe to your friends/parents/next door neighbour what you do for a living?
I persuade, I challenge, I negotiate, I build teams and I enable communities.
2. Tell us something really cool about your job at the moment
I influence the direction the whole organisation is taking.
3. What’s the most exciting thing about web and digital in the HE sector right now?
The sector is mega turbulent so we have to think about outcomes rather than ‘solution-ize’ (I know it’s not a word! J) – it means asking people / colleagues to do things differently.
4. What’s your proudest moment in your career so far?
Getting OneWeb approved as a multi-year funding programme; asking our Executive Board to trust me and my team and getting the mandate to do it. Not easy, but got it!
5. If you weren’t doing this career what would your dream job be?
An explorer of new places – always travel, hike and being outside!
6. What will delegates take away from your session at IWMW this year?
How to get people behind you, and that this work never ends. If leadership is going to stay consistent then there is hope that transformation will occur! It’s also about teams. A good metaphor from one of my team members (Andy Lamb) – Canadian geese fly in formation crazy long distances. To encourage the lead geese the geese behind honk their support to encourage and affirm the lead goose. When that goose tires, another takes the lead and they honk that one. And so it continues. Honk, honk, honk!!! – it’s really hard work and it is not down to one individual. There is also no room for egos! …I can keep going.
7. Any fond/embarrassing memories of previous IWMW events (if attended previously)?
Fond moments – getting to talk to Paul Boag 2 years ago in Kent (my first conference) and he gave me his (then) new books and cards, which I will cherish forever, because it informed me that I’m on the right path then.
Embarrassing – I left my luggage flying to Leeds last year as was too busy talking to my colleague, and also almost forgot my laptop on the tube getting back from Kent, with one of the delegates running behind me. Ooops. You can see a theme…
8. What do you like to do in your spare time?
I read – a lot. Go for (really long) walks. Also meet up with friends for (very) early gym sessions and then a nice, healthy breakfasts. I also have my own agile programme at home (3 clever children, my brain doesn’t rest too much!) J Recently, one of my children challenged me at home about ‘mummy, what is OneWeb’? – I used her questions for an internal talk at one of our faculties (I attached the slides in case it makes you smile).
9. What’s your guilty pleasure?
Used to be EastEnders (but I am now off it). It will have to be chocolate.
10. Sum up IWMW in one sentence
A great conference for anyone in digital and web space in Higher Education. Really friendly, informative and great value for money.
Ayala Gordon is Head of Digital at the University of Southampton, a research-intensive University and a founding member of the Russell Group, United Kingdom.
Ayala will give a plenary talk on “Your Big Digital Transformation Project Has Been Approved, Now What?” at IWMW 2019. Ayala also spoke at the IWMW 2018 event on “User Needs, Content Design and Culture Change: Digital Transformation at the University of Southampton“.