AUDE Summer School - does it work?

12 July 2021      Martin Higgs, Communications Officer

Ahead of AUDE’s 2021 Summer School, we caught up with recently promoted Jack Hunter, Deputy Director (Estates) at Newcastle University, and a Summer School graduate from 2019. Summer School aims to support the next generation of HE estates leaders in their career development. Organised as a high intensity residential course – in 2021 we’ll be staying at the University of Birmingham – we believe the combination of speakers, content, group and project work and a ready-made and ongoing network of peers makes attendance at Summer School a great proposition for colleagues with the ambition and skills to move through the ranks to senior leadership. But does Jack Hunter agree? What value did he get from the experience?

“There are huge benefits to attending Summer School,” Jack said. “But for me the two standout items were confidence development and the network.

“It was a real test for me. Sitting in those sessions with peers from across the country, and with international delegates too, could I hold my own in that environment? Did I feel comfortable, and could I engage at the right level on the detail, the technical and the strategic? Was I confident that I was in the right place, and did it feel like my career aspirations were realistic? To come away from such an intense programme and feel that the answer was ‘Yes’ was a huge confidence boost. The entire cohort were engaging and supportive and I feel I learnt just as much from each of them as from the structured speakers.

“The Summer School network has been invaluable to me. I was in a project group with colleagues from across the country and I can’t sing their praises highly enough. We were able to support each other at the time, in developing our project (which we subsequently presented at the AUDE Conference), and we’ve stuck together throughout Covid in all kinds of ways – sharing plans, JDs, or approaches on some of the massive tasks that have had to be completed urgently and from a standing start during the last 18 months.

“The way Summer School was structured really worked for my learning style. To be able to get away from the day job for a concentrated chunk of time and for that time to be packed so fully with information is spot on – it felt like an efficient way to take on a lot. It made for an intense experience but the level and quality of speakers and the content they shared was really excellent. Having access to VCs, directors of estates and international speakers, all focusing on helping delegates plot the career path forward, was of really high value to me.

“For instance, the session on influencing the Board really made an impression, helping me think about the needs of the final decision-makers when creating proposals or explaining estates decisions. And the session on working in an age of accelerating change, led by Don Guckert the Chair of AUDE’s equivalent US organisation, APPA, felt hugely pertinent – he talked about technology, skills development, sustainability and more in a time of endless disruption.

“Does Summer School work? As a way to maximise your learning, and gain access to great speakers and information, it is of really high quality and value. It’s a fantastic opportunity.”

AUDE’s Summer School 2021 runs from 15 to 18 November – hey, we’re optimistic about the weather. Check the programme and booking link – with places limited to just 30 this year, and going quickly, it’s time to act fast. We’ll be running a waiting list for 2022 so why not drop us a note?

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