After over 18 years as CEO of London Higher I now reach the point of writing my final CEO blog. In it should like for the most part to say thank you to those I have worked with, and learned from, over the years. Including of course to the current and former members of the London Higher team.
I will start however by a short reflection on the last few years. These have certainly been fluid ones for the UK, London and for HE – and therefore for London Higher. Organisations like London Higher can only thrive, indeed can only survive, by being fleet and flexible in response to change and also to developing member needs and expectations. Many of the London Higher networks and groups have come to maturity in recent times – but some have come and gone, and others are new.
One of the longest standing of the groups and networks, the London Healthcare Education Group, has this year been – unsurprisingly given the havoc wreaked by the covid-19 pandemic – more active than it has ever been. A collaboration that draws together leading London educators in varied healthcare professions, this group has certainly proved its value to those inside and outside of its membership these past months.
The London Mental Health and Wellbeing Network, is a much more recent London Higher development. I have blogged, and spoken about, my own mental health journey a few times. Like many I foresee that one of the ramifications of the pandemic is that there will be many more people, from all cultures and walks of like, whose mental health will suffer – and therefore who need more help and support. It has been some time now since I realised that by not being open about the challenges I have faced, and also over time and with advice learned to navigate, I was not serving either myself, my own organisation or the wider community as I could. I was very keen for London Higher to develop a role in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of both colleagues and students. I firmly believe that the London mental health and wellbeing network, championed by Dr Peter Bonfield, Vice Chancellor of the University of Westminster and current London Higher Vice Chair, will play a major role in in the months and years ahead.
Across the past 18+ years, I have been lucky enough to work alongside some fantastic people in London’s HE cluster. There are far too many to mention individually. I should like to mention one London Higher stalwart who, so very sadly, did not get to retire as he had planned and who by being both Chair of Podium, and then of London Higher itself, contributed greatly to the organisation. This of course was Professor Geoff Petts – please do read my blog on ‘The Geoff Years’ if you have not already.
Finally, no organisation big or small would thrive without a great team. It has been my pleasure and my privilege to have been a part of the London Higher journey and in doing so, I hope, help the careers of others along the way. All have played a great part in making London Higher what it is, and helping me to be what I am. Again the list is too long for me name all the names. However again to pick one it would have to be my ‘partner in crime’ for about years of the 18+, Dr Michael Reynier, now at UCL. The current London Higher team will, I know, be a fantastic asset to my successor as CEO, Diana Beech. London Higher, and London’s brilliant HE cluster, will always be close to my heart. These are testing times but I look forward to being able to celebrate many more achievements and successes in the future.