Getting to know the people behind the University of London: Peter O'Hara

In our second behind-the-scenes interview, Peter discusses his role as a Student Relationship Manager and how he plans to cycle from London to Bilbao, Spain
Peter O'Hara
"I enjoy speaking to people and my job allows me to do this on a daily basis, with people all over the world." : Peter O'Hara
Applying my in-depth knowledge of the student lifecycle and strong relationships with colleagues across the International Programmes, I assist in the provision of our excellent student services

Tell us about your role with the International Programmes
I have worked with the International Programmes for almost six years. After numerous roles within different departments I found my experiences and knowledge suitable for my current position as a Student Relationship Manager.

Applying my in-depth knowledge of the student lifecycle and strong relationships with colleagues across the International Programmes, I assist in the provision of our excellent student services, particularly focusing on the MSc in Professional Accountancy. I provide student support on the Virtual Learning Environment, online enquiry system (ESD) and by telephone. I work closely with lead college and institution staff to facilitate a smooth learning platform for students.

What do you like about your job?
The role of a Student Relationship Manager is interesting and varied. The sense of fulfilment I feel at the end of each working day, knowing that I have, if only in some small way, provided benefit to a person’s study experience makes the work enjoyable.

The diverse range of people and their backgrounds that I support is unparalleled to any other work I’ve undertaken outside of the University of London. I enjoy speaking to people and my job allows me to do this on a daily basis, with people all over the world.

Is there a ‘typical’ MSc Professional Accountancy student or is there a wide range of backgrounds and experience?
Working for an organisation and programme that has a global reach to thousands of individuals means there is no ‘typical’ MSc in Professional Accountancy student. Some students study to improve their career prospects while others study to widen their knowledge of a subject for their personal interest.

One particular quality shared by students on the MSc in Professional Accountancy programme is their inspiring determination to study alongside their often busy work and private lives.

Your role as a Student Relationship Manager was a new position in a new programme when you took it on in 2015. What are the challenges and advantages of developing a new role?
The biggest challenge of developing a new role is judging the time each task requires and planning how to prioritise those tasks. Luckily, I had the support of the Associate Director of Student Experience, Jo Harris, to guide me through my work and assist with any issues I had along the way. I was also fortunate to start the role with my colleague Ania Chrapowicka; we were able to share the workload and plan together. With the hard work and dedication of both these people supporting me, the challenges were always easily managed.

The main advantage of a new role is that you have the ability to approach everything afresh. Using knowledge from previous roles, you can apply your experience to create new and effective protocols and processes.

You have a central role with the University of London Staff Association.  What does that involve?
I jointly head the Staff Association with my colleague, Tim Hall. Along with the support of other members within the Staff Association we organise staff events and support clubs that are run and attended by staff within the University of London.

"The diverse range of people and their backgrounds that I support is unparalleled to any other work I’ve undertaken outside of the University of London."

Are you originally from London?
I’m from Middlesbrough originally and lived there until I went to Northumbria University, in Newcastle, to study law. I moved to London to start working at the University of London and now feel London is my home.

What is your favourite thing about working in the Bloomsbury area?
On a lunch time I like to spend time socialising with my colleague friends. My favourite thing is to sit in Russell Square, during the summer months, and catch up with friends over lunch. All around you there are people taking part in their club activities, walking their dog or simply passing through as a tourist.

What insider tip would you give to someone visiting London?
London is full of unique places. When visiting, avoid mainstream shops and chain restaurants. The best places are always just a short walk away from the busy popular areas. I enjoy walking along the South Bank from London Bridge to Parliament. During the day it’s always busy but at night I find the walk relaxing and the sights incredible.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I tend to exercise a lot. I regularly go to the gym and will soon start training to cycle from London to Bilbao, Spain. I’m a bit apprehensive as I haven’t ridden a bike since I was 10, wish me luck!

In these rainy winter months I tend to watch a lot of films and TV series. I found myself watching the TV series ‘House’ which I would recommend. I’d say my favourite TV series are ‘Sopranos’ and ‘Breaking Bad’.

What is the last piece of music you listened to?Roseberry Topping Hill in North Yorkshire
The Cure, Pictures Of You.

What is the prettiest place you have ever been to?
There’s no place like home, I love the English countryside. The prettiest place for me is Roseberry Topping hill (pictured right) in North Yorkshire. Once you have hiked to the top you have stunning views and further along the path you can walk to Captain Cook’s Monument and into woodland and hidden streams. I have fond memories of these walks with friends and family.

 

More information

Find out more about studying MSc Professional Accountancy.